Reading Update 06.06.21

First things first, how’re you reading? Some of y’all are reading The Jungle Outside and thank you; thank you especially to whoever left these online reader reviews:

“It was a cute and heartwarming read. Can’t wait to pass it on to my young nephew and niece.”

“The illustrations by Trinidadian Danielle Boodoo-Fortune are glorious. My daughter had a wow moment when she saw the picture of Tanti. The illustrations really bring the story to life. Would recommend to parents who are wanting to support children to discover nature. “

Tanti and Dante from The Jungle Outside.

Now my (non-work-related) reading.

I’m up to page 386 of global anthology New Daughters of Africa (only 400 or so more pages to go). My most recent read in this anthology is an excerpt from Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: an American Lyric.

“The space next to the man is a pause in a conversation you are suddenly rushing to fill.”

Citizen is already on my TBR and ever more so with each excerpt I read or reading I come across on YouTube. Also I can’t believe I’m in a collection with the Claudia Rankine and, on the next page, the Leone Ross. I wish I could zip through the remaining pages but at the same time I love that life is forcing me to read it slow, bit by bite-sized bit. So far, this collection has been nothing but greatness; a formidable accomplishment by editor, the Margaret Busby.

I finished The Art of White Roses, my 15th book finished for the year, though technically my fifth novel-length book, more technically third if counting books in print (as opposed to audio books), a short novel at that, but who’s counting. I liked this book. It’s a historical novel set in the early days of the Cuban revolution, from the point of view of an early teens girl, written by Puerto Rican author (whose grandmother, per the author notes, was Cuban) Viviana Prado-Núñez.

Review excerpt: “The descriptions alone, and the way the changes taking place in the country are happening but are a bit out of focus as they would be as you focus on your day to day. There are for me some improbabilities and conveniences in the third act, where everything happens very suddenly but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t engaged by it. And mostly it’s the interest in the period and the beauty of the language -richly descriptive and symbolic and atmospheric with, at times, a real sense of menace.” (Read the full review in Blogger on Books IX)

The Art of White Roses won the 2017 Burt Award (and if you’re looking for teen/young adult books to read during Caribbean Heritage Month – i.e. June, the month of the #Caribathon and #readCaribbean campaigns on social media – you can’t do better than any of the winning Burt Award books for teen/young adult Caribbean fiction). It was longlisted in 2020 for the Dublin Literary Award.

Also finished in June, the second in the Old Guard anthology series – graphic novel, quick read, even quicker review.

ICYMI check out reviews of reads from earlier in the year, including children’s picture book The Wonder of the World Leaf, journals – The Caribbean Writer Volume 32 and Skin Deep: Race + Culture: Is This the End?, and graphic novel The Old Guard: Tales through Time #1. They’re in Quick Takes II.

I received two collections including work by me this week. Windrush, part of an anthology series by Heady Mix, a book box subscription service, essentially curated reading, in the UK, arrived in the mail; it includes my short story ‘The Other Daughter’, originally published on the Commonwealth Writers platform Adda (see My Books here on the blog). The other is online, BIM: Arts for the 21st Century, perhaps the oldest and longest running Caribbean literary journal still in print; it includes my poem ‘Antigua, at night’. You can read the poem in my tab of published poetry here on the blog and you can read the current issue of BIM here. #readCaribbean

I started 37 Poems by St. Martin poet Lasana M. Sekou (I’m at page 20) and continued reading Volume 5 number 2 of Interviewing the Caribbean (I’m up to page 25), the one with my book With Grace by Cherise Harris as the cover image.

That’s what’s been up since my last reading journal update in terms of leisure (i.e. non-client/non-editing/non-work reading). I predicted in that last update that The Art of White Roses would be the next book I finished; this time I predict Maeve Binchy’s Chestnut Street – it was my companion on the bus and on the road this week and I’m now up to page 298.

Let me end with this:

“Some people take the carved
path, the paved road, use the well endorsed map. I have been the wild woman
with the machete in the bush, often in the dark, with little but the next step to
lean into.” – Maria E Govan, the Bahamas, Post 1, Blog 1, Catapult Stay at Home residency

Catapult, you may remember, is the initiative that supported a number of artists around the Caribbean in 2020 (I wrote about it in my first CREATIVE SPACE column of 2021). My own grant award supported the production of this video:

I like to linkup with a meme whenever I do one of these and this week, I randomly picked, for the first time, Six for Sunday, focussing this week on LGBTQIA fic, and this isn’t exactly a neat fit BUT I’m going to pull from this post

The Old Guard: Tales through Time #1. (graphic novel series by Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernandez which has become a Netflix film and this anthology series, and which features timeless lovers Joe and Nicky)

and from my #readCaribbean post

The Swinging Bridge by Ramabai Espinet
My Brother by Jamaica Kincaid
A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
Fear of Stones and Other Stories by Kei Miller
Considering Venus by D. Gisele Isaac
+ Greyborn Rising by Derry Sandy
+ Home Home by Lisa Allen-Agostini

for my six.

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