NOTE: I started writing this post the week of Memorial Day weekend, before the senseless and unjustified lynching of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. But for whatever reason and maybe the right reasons could not finish this blog post as intended. Since taking time to reflect and as I continue to reflect, I have found new meaning in this novel.
The Marvellous Equations of the Dreads, A Novel in Bass Riddim is a magical realism novel that weaves together the history of the Rastafarian religion. This novel will leave an impact on you.
The novel recounts many aspects of the life of Bob Marley who returns to Jamaica after his death in the body of Riva Man, a fall down angel who once guarded kings during lovemaking. Bob Marley upon his entrance to Zion realizes that he no longer has his ring; the ring he believes was once King Solomon’s, gifted to Marley by Haile Salaisse, the emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974, but is instead a replica of the real ring. Haile Salaisse (otherwise known as His Imperial Majesty (HIM)) believed to the Messiah returned in human form in the Rastafarian religion is, in fact, a god-like figure in Zion once Marley arrives there. And so HIM grants Marley 7 days to return to Jamaica in search of his ring.
Home. Is the one word the I would use to decribe Roxane Gay’s Ayiti. This collection of short stories centers on Haiti, the Haitian experience in Haiti, and those of immigrants who travel to the United States in search of a better life made me nostaligic to be home in Miami, in my parent’s house surrounded by my culture. The daughter of Haitian immigrants who immigrated to New York and Miami during the late 1970s , early 1980s, I identified with many of the stories as it relates to the lived experiences of my parents in a foreign country that has always looked at them as other in spite of their contributions to society.
Motherfuckers reminds me of my mother’s stories of her struggles navigating the latter part of her high schools years in America and the struggle of being Haitian at a time when it was not cool to be Haitian. About My Father’s Accent reminds me of my father’s still very Haitian accent despite living in the US for 40 plus years and how it connects to him to what will always be home and where he hopes to lay his bones when he has completed his dash on this side of heaven.
Alice Walker is never an author to fail or disappoint her fans and readers. Walker in Can’t Keep A Good Woman Down thoroughly engages the mind of the womanist/black feminist. Although written in the 1980s, many of the short stories within the book are very much relevant today and I would venture to say may even awaken the womanist/black feminist thoughts of women who have yet to identify with either of the two labels. Can’t Keep A Good Woman Down explores the factors that shape the lives of black women, such as cultural appropriation, rape, abortion, pornography, misogyny, and the sexual objectification of the bodies of women to name a few. Of the thirteen short stories within the book I provide you with a brief summary of the two on the short stories that I’d have to say were my favorite.
How Did I Get Away with Killing One of the Biggest Lawyers in the State? It Was Easy
In How Did I Get Away with Killing One of the Biggest Lawyers in the State? It Was Easy, Walker explores the physical and mental rape of a 14 year old black girl. The protagonist was first raped when she was 12. As the protagonist recounts her story, the raping of little black girls is viewed as something normal and not rare during the times and society that she grew up in.
“It was nothing for a girl or woman to be raped. I was raped myself, when I was twelve, and my Mama never knew and I never told anybody. For, what could they do? It was just a boy, passing through. Somebody’s cousin from the North.”