“The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man” by James Weldon Johnson is the fictional account of a biracial man looking back over his life. The story is told in the first-person though the narrator remains unnamed and is never described physically. He tells of being born in the South and growing up in Connecticut where he learns that he is a very light-skinned biracial boy who some assume is White. As a young man he sets out on his own and travels to different parts of America and later Europe, recounting his experiences in Black and White society along the way.
Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s debut novel “We Cast a Shadow” is set in an unnamed Southern city in the not too distant future. American society has become more racially restrictive. To avoid the various prejudices suffered by Black people, some resort to “demelanization”, a painful procedure that removes physical traits associated with Black people. The book is a slightly off-beat dark comedy about a nameless narrator who goes to desperate lengths to shield his son from this race-based dystopian society.
If you like detective novels and police procedurals with twists and turns as well as a bit of depth that makes the story and characters feel both familiar and refreshing then my book review of “Bluebird, Bluebird” by Attica Locke is for you.
A review of “Transcendent Kingdom”, Yaa Gyasi’s sophomore novel about a neuroscience PhD candidate who reflects on her life, religion, and science.
“Stay With Me” is a novel by Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ about a married Nigerian couple, Yejide and Akin, who experience ups and downs while trying to conceive and raise children. The couple previously agreed to pass on some of their culture’s traditions in favor of having a more modern marriage. But after four years of marriage and no children, their families assume that they are infertile and pressure Akin to take a second wife. Feeling obligated to their families’ expectations, they sacrifice their desires and put their marriage at risk to please their elders.