skyscape fog

Octavia Butler and Margaret Atwood Were Ready for a Trump World

"After everything that happened, I’m not reading 1984, I’m not reading Fahrenheit 451, I’m not reading A Handmaid’s Tale. I’m reading Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. I feel like if we’re looking for any answers or where we’re going, it’s definitely in Octavia’s work." That's what speculative fiction writer Nnedi Okorafor had to say about what book to reach for in the age of Trump. Having read Parable of the Sower, I recognized some reasons why Okorafor would point readers to Butler ...

Angela Davis

Living Alternate Histories with Underground Airlines

My grandmother once told me a story that stretched the limits of my understandings of racial fear. Years ago she was relocating with her family for my grandfather's job. They planned to drive to their new home and considered taking a detour through the South as an add-on to their trip. At this time however, Angela Davis had just been added to the FBI's Most Wanted list, and the entire country was focused on the story. My grandmother, who is a light-skinned black woman that used to wear he ...

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Faith, Fat Chances, and Gentrification

Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I'm always talking about gentrification, displacement, and diversity. That's one of the reasons why I was commenting earlier this month in a #DiverseBookBloggers thread about how we need books by authors of color about neighborhood change. Then I happened to pick up Carla Trujillo’s Faith and Fat Chances and found exactly that conversation on the page. Faith and Fat Chances takes place in a (as far as I can tell) fictional community right outsid ...

downtown los angeles

Ghettoside in Los Angeles

I just finished working my way through Jill Leovy's Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America, which is a deep dive into the LA Police Department's homicide detective unit for South LA. I picked this one up at the library thinking it would be a perfect intersection of my interests: black people, urban challenges, and criminal justice, but I have to admit I came away conflicted. Ghettoside follows LAPD Detective Skaggs as he tries to solve the murder of a colleague's son. Leovy spends ...

Ocho_Ríos-Jamaica

Caribbean Tourism and A Brief History of Seven Killings

When the 2015 Man Booker Prize was announced, and I saw that it was a Jamaican author for the first time, and an LGBT author to boot, I knew I'd need to investigate. It was partially the desire to be a cheerleader for diversity at the highest levels of the literary mountain, but also an interest in deepening some of my past experiences. I've never been to the Jamaica that James talks about with A Brief History of Seven Killings. But I have been to Jamaica. When I was younger my family too ...