Part way through my journey under the sun

IMG_20150412_125034_1I’ve completed 41% of Nicole Dennis-Benn’s Here Comes The Sun. She takes the reader over treacherous terrain, exploring, discerning, lovingly dissecting Delores, Margot, Thandie, and Verdene, as they traverse Montego Bay, burning under the sun.

It’s a story about women in whom Langston Hughes’ “Harlem” manifests. So far. Cyaan see how it can go otherwise…at this point. Delores has no dreams for herself, has helped to kill Margot’s, and only has a stringent hope for Thandie. Margot’s dreams have mutated into the darkness she constantly fears will envelop Thandie. And she just made her best effort to kill Thandie’s. It’s a wretched cycle with no happy end in sight.

Mi still want the happy ending tho, God know. Nicole, do sup’m fi dem and mi nuh 😅😌?

Parts of this book evoke claustrophobic feelings. It’s like they’re living in the middle of an active volcano with the lava bubbling beneath and the sky visible but too far away. Maybe they are the lava. Maybe they’re the volcano.

I love Thandie most of all, partly because she is the one I can relate to the most. (Hi, ego.) Your heart can’t help but ache for this sweet, artistic, high school student, still so young, who has to reckon with a mother and sister whose love is hard, scaly, oppressive, barely likkle juice left in the heart. Not because dem wicked but because of what humans have done to humans in paradise, whether it’s emotional abuse at home or sexual abuse everywhere else.

I don’t want to do a review now but I already plan to gift this book when she visits in a few months. There are so many things Dennis-Benn gets right about Mobay, making connections to different occurrences that never occurred to me–Mobay, born and raised–that I wanna place this book in every politician hand.

Yuh nuh tink dem know already tho? 🤔

Next section is entitled “Chicken Merry Hawk Deh Near”. I hope di chicken is Alphonso, one of those tired white Jamaicans, because hawk reach di rest already! Nicole, think of my heart.

Rebel Woman Lit Challenge

This is the reading plan that should shock me back into…some kind renewal, reemergence, reconnection, re re re.

I selected the Light Reader’s Plan with a couple prompts substituted from the Avid Reader’s. RWL seems a little too US-centric sometimes (more in the social media presence than actual book selections). It was easy to drop the gentrification prompt for “a speculative fiction written by a Caribbean author”. I may still get The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang for my “chick-lit featuring persons of colour” but may swap it for ” a book that takes place in North-East Asia”. I have a lot of Japanese lit yet to be absorbed. I appreciate that the prompts have more global focus.

About half of my selections are books I started last year but never finished, or I intended to start but never turned a page. One of them I tried more than once. Only manga managed to retain my attention, besides one or two romance books. There’s nothing wrong with manga but it gets old.

RWL revealed its official selections up until May. Besides the Akwaeke Emezi title, I don’t imagine our lists will intersect at all. A few of mine were 2017 group selections.

Kiki’s Light Reader’s Plan

  1. A novel with an LGBTQIA+ main character – Here Comes the Sun by Nicole Dennis Benn
  2. A book by an Indigenous, Native American or First Nation writer – Prudence by David Treuer
  3. Speculative fiction by a Caribbean author – Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson
  4. A book with a neurodiverse main character of colour – Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
  5. A chick-lit featuring persons of colour – The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
  6. A memoir by a woman of colour – Hunger by Roxane Gay
  7. A debut novel by a person of colour – The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
  8. A book with an elderly main character – Memento Mori by Muriel Spark
  9. A book inspired by traditional African beliefs – The Akata series by Nnedi Okorafor (or Zoo City by Lauren Beukes)
  10. A recent poetry collection by a woman of colour – A Merchant of Feathers by Tanya Shirley
  11. A book set in a Caribbean country – How to Escape from a Leper Colony and Other Stories by Tiphanie Yanique
  12. A book under 200 pages by a person of colour – The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz

 

First blog post

My love for literature was a defining feature of my life. Yet for the past few years, it became more of a surface affectation. Why?

I felt myself regress. I imagine withered brain cells; stunted vocabulary; wholly regurgitated aphorisms; copycat insight.  Others take on life’s complexities as I retreat into a trite, hackneyed, comforting, utterly unsatisfying imagined life.

Halfway through 2017, I subscribed to the Rebel Women Literature newsletter. For half of last year, I lurked over all their doings, got some books, didn’t read a damn thing (except one or two Safiya Sinclair poems).

It’s the new year. The grandest pronouncement I can imagine for myself in this stasis is the RWL 2018 reading challenge. I used to read 50+ books a year. I’ll start with 12.

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