New Book Review: Little Fires Everywhere

download (5)The award winning Little Fires Everywhere was written by American novelist Celeste Ng and published in 2017 by Perigee Books. This New York Times bestseller has received a wealth of praise and is set to become a TV series adaptation later this year.

This deeply thought-provoking read is sure to render you emotionally invested in its skilfully fleshed out characters and engaging story. The book’s strengths for me are its characters and use of symbolism. Even characters of partial significance as with those whose actions you may not agree with are developed flawlessly. For the most part, the characters are truly 3-dimensional and the use of mainly flashbacks but also non-exhaustive exposition, keeps you vested in their growth as a character.

Little Fires Everywhere discusses its central theme of motherhood in light of the two main characters; Mia Warren and Elena Richardson, both of which are mothers under very different circumstances and with opposing ideals…To continue reading please click here.

 

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Graphic Novels Update

Here are my manga recommendations for the month of July;

Wotakoi and I Became The Secretary Of A Hero

To Find out more and read a short summary about my picks, please visit the Graphic Novels page.

 

New Book Review: Heartburn by Nora Ephron

Heartburn is the autobiographical yet fictitious story about a famous cookbook author whose husband has an affair with a mutual family friend. It reflects the real life story of the author who also wrote the screenplay for the 1986 movie adaptation. Heartburn was originally published in 1983 by Little Brown Book Group….I thought the addition of the recipes that cropped up at various occasions of the book added a very imaginative break in prose, it changed the dynamic by providing comic relief and presented the use of food as an allegory, that cleverly explored the pain of being cheated on by one’s husband through its cultural significance. Above all, it certainly made me want to try the recipe for peach pie…..Read more here.

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What Type Of Reader Are You?

It’s another sultry day of slick moistness in London and I’m currently reclining next to the fan with a bottle of San Miguel almost forlorn for having put down the fantastic Silent Companions by Laura Purcell. A book so bewitchingly eerie and sinister, it fills me with perverse felicity. I can’t wait to write a review of this book so please look out for it in the coming weeks. In the meantime, why not take a gander through my current book reviews and see if anything takes your fancy. Please visit the Books Reviews page to find out more.

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We’re all fervent page turners here but we’re not without our peculiar reading habits. Do you have an idiosyncratic reading style? Here are six types of readers you may identify with. If I’ve left any out, please comment below and share your singular reading style. 

The Marathoner  − I suppose we all fall into this category if we are given the right book to read. The Marathoner can read dense novel in a matter of days. They can read tirelessly without stopping to stretch their limbs, even if the book doesn’t particularly strike their fancy.

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Belcastro Agency

The Daydreamers − Do you ever start reading something and start to trail off somewhere in your mind mid sentence, before having to read that whole section again? It’s worth noting that this type of reader isn’t necessarily bored of what there’re reading. It’s more likely that there’re fantasizing about the book or altering the destiny of a certain character in their minds.

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The Romantics − These readers get heavily invested in fictional characters to the point where their deaths or misfortunes in the books somehow traverse into real life. I can somewhat sympathize with the romantics; I remember outwardly mourning the deaths of Callum from Noughts and Crosses and Jon Snow, who knows nothing… (I had to put that in there).

The Escapists − These readers are most at risk from suffering from a severe form of existentialism. They particularly enjoy anything affiliated with the other-worldly genre and generally feel an aching lack of purpose when they complete a certain book or series.

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@ermiliablog

The Procrastinators − The procrastinators will read the first two or three chapters of a book repeatedly over the course of several years before actually reading the book in its entirety.

The Commuter − This type of reader can’t survive the commute to and from work without their book in hand. Their eyes are fixated on the page completely absorbed and unaffected though being jostled about by the violently jerky stops and starts of whatever public transport they are using.

Honourable mention: The Multi-Purpose Reader − This type of reader can read upwards of three books at the same time.

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started reading in Sixth Form (2012) finished only a couple of months ago… (2018)

 


 

The Black Problem

DISCLAIMER: This post alludes to the black community in Britain, particularly in London and yes I know this doesn’t apply to all black people but it reflects my opinion in light of my personal experiences.

I’m pleased to say that I finally have my review up of the book; “Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race” by Reni Eddo-Lodge. Please click here to read it. I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

In my review I briefly mentioned that I felt like the author failed to acknowledge the complexities of the black community. I thought elaborating on that point in my review would take away from its neutrality so I decided to write a separate article.

I was basically raised by my parents to never use my race as an excuse for anything. Not when a teacher appeared to be meanest to me, not when a group of kids bullied me, not when I didn’t get that job or promotion and not when that one colleague seems to constantly make snide comments about me or my work; so basically ‘Never play the race card.’ Despite this upbringing it came as no surprise to me when a recently former colleague recounted to me an incident of a young black woman whom he tried to assist but was unable to due to company policy and such; she angrily concluded that he was refusing to help her because she was black.*

This account reminded me of the propensity for particularly black people to play the so-called race card at every opportunity (and usually angrily at that). This seemingly widespread attitude on the part of my community left me largely disillusioned to the racial issues that black people still face today. Those who embody the stereotypes of constantly playing the race card, essentially endow the accused with a get-out-of-jail card in turn. The onus is no longer on the accused to confront their own complicity. By concluding that the reason you’re being antagonised is because you’re black, it dulls whatever guilt they may possess because they now have the power to dismissively write you off as playing the victim, which is another stereotype we’ve come to associate with black people. Constantly playing the victim, unable to let go of the past.

Growing up I was constantly labelled a bounty or a coconut and that has carried through to my adult life. People are amazed, and some people find it quite funny, that I talk devoid of colloquialisms and slang (I have my moments) and my somewhat acquired or rather varied taste in music. It annoys me that people expect me to act and talk a certain way as dictated to me by my race. This too left me feeling disillusioned and displaced from my community as I seem to fall outside the generic norms on almost every occasion, save for the hair woes.

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Can’t decide if I should wash my hair finally after four weeks or just put some more coconut oil in it…..

All around me, I keep seeing black people playing into certain stereotypes as with mixed race people with a greater affinity to their black side perpetuating these behaviours and thus claiming that they are blacker than me. These predominantly negative behaviours made manifest in the form of aggressiveness, criminality, over-assertiveness and anger coupled with my upbringing to ‘not see race,’ made me unsympathetic to black complaints of racial discrimination and the like.

It seems like there is always some angry black person doing one thing or another to give us a bad name and I constantly get judged off the back of these negative portrayals. For instance, even though I’m known as a bounty or a coconut, when I try to assert myself or respectfully disagree, suddenly all people can see is the surface and I start to take on the label of being negative. It was such that at times I resolved to just remain silent. The reality is people still compare me to the expectations they have of the black community.

Incidentally, Eddo Lodge in her book discusses this latter point perfectly in light of the Stephen Lawrence tragedy. Those four criminals were not judged relative to their race, but rather they were judged as individuals, evil people in themselves who committed a heinous crime. White people are generally viewed as individuals, the actions of one does not tend to permeate across the entire race.

Reading Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race was a revelation because it not only explained why training our children to not see race is a problem −in that it “does not accept the legitimacy of structural racism”− but it also dissected and analysed the British constitution, giving highly credible evidence of “structural racism.” This wasn’t just a good book in my eyes; it dispelled many of my previous reservations about my own community and gave me a better understanding of their plight in trying to thrive in structures that have been “rigged” against them.

Though some of my reservations were dispelled, this matter which I have come to understand as; The Black Problem still continues to be a grey area. Is structural racism to blame for the anger and resulting anti-social behaviours in the black community? National statistics confirm that those of ethnic minorities are more likely to be exponents as well as victims of crime with black people making up the overwhelming majority. Is the covertly unjust system designed to favour those of a particular race and class the catalyst to the negative stereotypes in the black community giving rise to more crime, aggression and victim hood? Or do black attitudes justify structural oppression?

Martin Luther King was famously quoted as saying that “… a way oppressed people sometimes deal with oppression is to resort to physical violence and corroding hate.” This seems to underscore violence as an outlet in predominantly the black community as an expression of feeling oppressed by a system that adversely impacts their life’s chances. Aristotle said that “poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.” It should therefore come as no surprise that there is a positive correlation between those from impoverished homes or lower income working class households (who are, more times than not, black people) and criminality.

I have come away from this book and the subsequent research that ensued with a greater affinity to my culture and community and understanding of their complexities even though I disagree with them. In the end, I think Eddo-Lodge has the right idea. The best thing black people can do is to stop talking to white people about race (or anyone in general as I see it). Most other races and ethnic groups view the black community as a victim hood cult and by proving them right by putting everything down to; It’s because I’m black isn’t it? we ourselves actually legitimise structural and systemic racism.


*A dark skinned man of Asian parentage had a similar outburst claiming my white colleague was racist, although his outburst was markedly more heated.
Not too long after that a black man with a horrid temper was kicking off at me for making a “mistake,” another lady who was nearby heard the kerfuffle (this lady was white by the way) and asked the gentleman to be nice to me instead of shouting. Unfortunately for the kindly white woman, the man started shouting at her assuming her interference was a “racial issue.”

Book Club Meeting

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I attended my first ever book club meeting yesterday which needless to say was novel and as you would imagine, I didn’t know what to expect, save for the laborious sojourn from my residence in essentially the furthermost western part of London to the furthermost eastern part and beyond, namely Essex.

Not that this is significant in the least but I loved the fact that we gathered in a book shop to discuss our views on This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay. I love the idea of gathering for these sorts of things in libraries or bookshops or rooms with antiquated furniture like phonographs or those phones you need two hands to hold. Any place with the rustic near burnt smell of new books and antiquity.

I felt quite out of place at first, quite like an anomaly in an otherwise homogeneous demographic but I was very much welcomed and resolved to listen to the conversation as it flowed only interjecting on rare occasions to see how my contributions would be received. There were received well on that note and the responses were kind and reassuring when I chimed in; “It just seems so much can go wrong. I’m almost afraid to give birth.” One participant shared with the rest of the group that she’d been informed by her doctor that her baby had died inside of her and so she as heartbreaking as it sounds was expecting to go into hospital when the time came to give birth to a stillborn baby. Thankfully, it was a horrible mistake and she had a healthy baby girl.

The general consensus regarding the book we discussed was that it was hilarious yet solemn and one which we would all easily recommend. To read my review of this book please click here and to learn more about upcoming reviews visit the Books page.

Books Galore

Is anyone else’s reading list growing faster than they can keep up with? Or is that just me? It’s a bit like being in a workplace environment where the tasks you have to complete keep building up mounting more pressure on your already stressful day only it’s not work, it’s not anything like sitting in an office processing invoices. It’s the type of pressure you enjoy or rather it’s the excitement in anticipation of losing yourself in the pages in another world, or discussion.

Please visit my Books page to see what I’m currently reading and to see any upcoming reviews.

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Looks like I’m booked this weekend!