“Every Day Is For The Thief” by Teju Cole – Random House – 160 pages. Author Cole was born in Nigeria and spent his adult life in New York. “Every Day” is his first novel and was first published in 2007 by Cassava Republic Press in Nigeria. His second novel, “Open City” brought him recognition as he earned a National Book Critics Award nomination, which persuaded his publishers to revisit “Every Day”. Critics have wondered if the story of an unnamed narrator’s journey from New York back to Lagos is more autobiographical than fiction. Cole, also a photographer, has included several of his photos in the book. “Every Day is for the Thief” has wetted the appetites of the critics who await Cole’s next novel with much anticipation.
“The Orchid of Lost Souls” by Nadifa Mohamed – Simon & Schuster– 344 pages – Available through Amazon.ca. The author was born in Somalia and raised in London. She returned to the city of Hargeisa, where her novel is set, in 1987 – at a time when Somalia is on the brink of war. Her first novel, “Black Mamba Boy” was based on her father’s early life as a street child searching for his father. “The Orchid of Lost Souls” focuses on women – Deqo, a 9 year old from a refugee camp who takes to the streets, Kowsar, a wealthy widow in her 50’s who sees Deqo being abused and tries to stop it. She is arrested and eventually beaten by Filsan, a female soldier trying to impress her superiors. The novel follows the three female characters and reveals a part of Somalia’s difficult history. The three meet up again in the midst of chaos and the author offers insight into the conflicted relationships common to everyone.
“The Art of Cooking: Soul Of The Caribbean”: by Toronto chef Selwyn Richards – available through Amazon.ca. Richards was born in Jamaica and came to Canada to study engineering. Realizing his real love was cooking, he studied culinary management at George Brown College. He worked at several Toronto establishments including the CN Tower and the Sky Dome. In 1994 he opened the Pepper Pot Café with his brothers in North York. The restaurant closed in 2000 and Richards thought of leaving the food industry. One of his brothers convinced him to stay in the industry and The Art of Catering was established with Richards as its executive chef. His book features recipes from a variety of Caribbean countries and includes Barbeque and curry dishes as well as salads, soups and desserts.
“Things I Should Have Told My Daughter” by Pearl Cleage – Atria Books – 308 pages – $27.99. Author Cleage was born in Detroit and moved to Atlanta with her husband Michael Lomax. In her book she chronicles many of her “coming of age” episodes growing up in the era of Civil Rights and Black Nationalism including her work in helping elect Maynard Jackson, the first Black mayor of Atlanta. Her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement and the Student Non-Violent Co-ordinating Committee are prominent stops on her journey. She writes of her personal growth, taking charge of her own finances, her role as a mother and her decision to leave her marriage and strike out on her own. Her ability to support herself and her writing exhilarates her. Her experiences will resonate with women of all ages and ethnicities. Cleage is known for her previous book, “Deals with the Devil: And Other Reasons to Riot” in which she painted a somewhat damning portrayal of jazz trumpeter Miles Davis (not his music but of his own self-confessed violence against women).
“Stokely: A Life” by Peniel E. Joseph. The author is a Tufts University historian. “Stokely: A Life” documents the emergence of the Civil Rights Movement through the life of Stokely Carmichael the charismatic and controversial activist for “Black Power”.