Books Of June – Travellers and Immigrants Speak

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This year has been an African literary feast so far. Seriously, it’s been back to back goodness so far and I am yet to read a book that makes me want to slam my head into a wall yet. Okay, maybe that’s a bit extreme but you know what I mean.

We are officially halfway through 2019, and these are the newborns coming our way this month:

The Travelers by Regina Porter

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Release Date: June 18, 2019

Meet James Samuel Vincent, an affluent Manhattan attorney who shirks his modest Irish American background. But hews to his father’s meandering ways. James muddles through a topsy-turvy relationship with his son, Rufus. Which is further complicated when Rufus marries Claudia Christie.

Claudia’s mother—Agnes Miller Christie—is a beautiful African American woman who survives a chance encounter on a Georgia road that propels her into a new life in the Bronx. Soon after, her husband, Eddie Christie, is called to duty on an air craft carrier in Vietnam. Where Tom Stoppard’s play “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” becomes Eddie’s life anchor. As he grapples with mounting racial tensions on the ship and counts the days until he will see Agnes again.

These unforgettable characters’ lives intersect with a cast of lovers and friends—the unapologetic black lesbian who finds her groove in 1970s Berlin; a moving man stranded in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, during a Thanksgiving storm; two half-brothers who meet as adults in a crayon factory; and a Coney Island waitress whose Prince Charming is too good to be true.

With piercing humor, exacting dialogue, and a beautiful sense of place, Regina Porter’s debut is both an intimate family portrait and a sweeping exploration of what it means to be American today.

Travellers by Helon Habila

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Release Date: June 20, 2019

Modern Europe is a melting pot of migrating souls, Among them a Nigerian American couple on a prestigious arts fellowship. A transgender film student seeking the freedom of authenticity. A Libyan doctor who lost his wife and child in the waters of the Mediterranean. And a Somalian shopkeeper trying to save his young daughter from forced marriage.

And, though the divide between the self-chosen exiles and those who are forced to leave home may feel solid, in reality such boundaries are endlessly shifting and frighteningly soluble.

Moving from a Berlin nightclub to a Sicilian refugee camp to the London apartment of a Malawian poet. Helon Habila evokes a rich mosaic of migrant experiences. And through his characters’ interconnecting fates, he traces the extraordinary pilgrimages we all might make in pursuit of home.

Read my review here

Taking Up Space by Chelsea Kwakye and Ore Ogunbiyi

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Release Date: June 27, 2019

A groundbreaking exploration of the problems of diversity in education, by two extremely talented young graduates.

As a minority in a predominantly white institution, taking up space is an act of resistance. And in higher education, feeling like you constantly have to justify your existence within institutions that weren’t made for you is an ongoing struggle for many people.

Chelsea Kwakye and Ore Ogunbiyi, two recent Cambridge graduates, wrote Taking Up Space as a guide and a manifesto for change. Tackling issues of access, unrepresentative curricula, discrimination in the classroom, the problems of activism, and life before and after university.

Featuring honest conversations with students past and present, Taking Up Space goes beyond the buzzwords of diversity and inclusion and explores what those words truly mean for young black girls today.

Which books are you looking forward to in June?

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