Reading List: January 2017
I was born with an endless reading list and every new year with new book releases, I find myself adding to that list as I discover new writing and new authors.
I am introducing something new to the blog this year: every month in 2017, I will share a list of new book releases for the month (in the fiction and non-fiction space) which I plan to add to my extremely long reading list. While I do not aspire to read all of these before the end of the year (or month), the monthly reading list will comprise of books that have captured my interest, which I may be reading, or plan to read (at some point in the future), and of course wholeheartedly recommend.
The list for the month of January 2017 includes two books from Nigeria, including one from an author I just discovered (color me excited!), two pieces of non-fiction which speak to the interesting times we live in, two short story collections, one book written by the winner of Great British Bake-Off, a book about cricket set in India, and a searing tale about immigration and the love of a mother.
Welcome to Lagos by Chibundu Onuzo. Topping the list is a book that I already have in my hands and which I plan to start reading this weekend and hopefully will be able to review. Our friends at goodreads say: Full of shimmering detail, Welcome to Lagos is a stunning portrayal of an extraordinary city, of seven lives that intersect in a breathless story of courage and betrayal. The book cover art by Bill Bragg is brilliantly done.
The Enduring Life of Travyon Martin by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin. This is the first piece of non-fiction that I will be adding to my reading list in 2017. I was mortified by the set of events that led to the killing of this young man and applaud his parents writing this in spite of what must be indescribable heartbreak and grief at the loss of their son and the injustice that accompanied it. In this deeply personal account, they take us away from the headlines which grabbed global attention and give us an insight into their son’s tragically short life and how his death led to the birth of a movement.
Letters to a Young Muslim by Omar Saif Ghobash. The second piece of non-fiction for the year. The folks at Picador provide this synopsis: In a series of personal letters to his sons, Omar Saif Ghobash offers a short and highly readable manifesto that tackles our current global crisis with the training of an experienced diplomat and the personal responsibility of a father. The author, who is the Emirati ambassador to Russian, experienced tragedy very early in life: his father was killed when he was six-years old.
Radio Sunrise by Anietie Isong. It is always a joy to discover a new author from my native Nigeria and one that writes a story set (even if only partially) in my hometown of Lagos is guaranteed to capture my interest, especially if it has a creatively designed book cover like this one. From Jacaranda Books: Ifiok, a young journalist working for the government radio station in Lagos, Nigeria, aspires to always do the right thing but the odds seem stacked against him. Radio Sunrise paints a satirical portrait of post-colonial Nigeria that builds on the legacy of the great African satirist tradition of Ngugi Wa Thiong’o and Ayi Kwei Armah.
Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke. I always love to read (and write) short fiction and I am so pleased to discover a new author and one with an interesting background. Ms. Beneba Clarke is a West-Indian Australian author and slam poet. Foreign Soil is the first short story collection that I will be adding to my list in 2017. Although, it was originally published in 2014, it is being released in the U.S. this month. From Amazon: Her award winning collection of short stories give voice to the disenfranchised, the lost, and the mistreated. Her stories will challenge you, move you, and change the way you view the complex world we inhabit.
Difficult Women by Roxane Gay. The second short story collection that I will add to my reading list this year. Publisher’s Weekly says: Gay pens a powerful collection of short stories about difficult, troubled, headstrong and unconventional women. Whether focusing on assault survivors, single mothers, or women who drown their guilt in wine and bad boyfriends, Gay’s fantastic collection is challenging, quirky, and memorable.
Selection Day by Aravind Adiga. From Simon & Schuster: a dazzling new novel about two brothers in a Mumbai slum who are raised by their obsessive father to become cricket stars, and whose coming of age threatens their relationship, future, and sense of themselves. Filled with unforgettable characters from across India’s social strata, this book combines the best of The Art of Fielding and Slumdog Millionaire for a compulsive, moving story of adolescence and ambition, fathers, sons and brothers.
The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters by Nadiya Hussain. In this heart-warming tale (reminiscent of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women), written by the 2015 winner of the Great British Bake-Off, we meet the four Amir sisters – who are the only young Muslims living in the quaint English village of Wyvernage. On the outside, despite not quite fitting in with their neighbors, the Amirs are happy. But on the inside, each sister is secretly struggling. When family tragedy strikes, it brings the sisters closer together and forces them to learn more about life, love, faith and each other than they ever thought possible. (goodreads)
Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran. From Penguin Random House: 18 year old Solimar Castro-Valdez embarks on a perilous journey across the Mexican border and arrives in Berkeley, California weeks later, lost and pregnant. Her son Ignacio becomes her touchstone and motherhood her identity in a world where she is otherwise invisible. Kavya Reddy has created a beautiful life in Berkeley, but is struggling with infertility and her inability to get pregnant. When Solimar is placed in immigration detention and Ignacio comes under Kavya’s care, she finally gets to be the singing, story-telling kind of mother she always dreamed of being. But her love is built on a fault-line, with her heart wrapped around someone else’s child. The boy is steeped in love, but his destiny and that of his two mothers teeters between two worlds as Solimar fights to get him back. Lucky Boy delivers a moving and revelatory ode to the ever-changing borders of love.