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In 2006 Alice Walker, working with Women for Women International, visited Rwanda and the eastern Congo to witness the aftermath of the genocide in Kigali. Invited by the antiwar group CODEPINK, Walker traveled to Palestine/Israel three years later to view the devastation on the Gaza Strip.

While those of us who sit comfortably in front of our televisions to learn of the devastation occurring in the areas of focus in Overcoming Speechlessness, Walker was on the front lines sharing in the pain and the healing of those affected. She believes "whatever is currently happening to humanity, it is happening o all of us." This is the essence of this very brief work. But its brevity reveals the real meaning of humanity. Walker allows her voice to be that of the survivors of these tragedies. Overcoming Speechlessness also gives us glimpses of humanity in persons like the woman she meets in Kigali who was a sex slave and claims that Women for Women International "saved" her or the sacrifice of life made by a young woman attempting to save the home of her Palestinian friends from demolish. It's a moving piece that should force any reader to re-think remaining silent about atrocities committed against our global mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and children.

 
 
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So, the people have spoken and the catch up read-a-thon for the African Diaspora reading challenge will be 12 hours on Saturday, July 10th. That's three weeks from tomorrow. Get your reading lists together and come join me beginning at 7 am CST (8 am EST/ 5 am PST). Let's take that half day and relax with some great diasporic literature in hand.

There will be a designated post for the event so participants can check in and share what their reading as well as the progress on individual goals. Even though 12 hours does not allow time for challenges, I'm still giving away a prize. The deets on the prize and how winners will be chosen will be revealed the day of the read-a-thon.

Participants should also feel free to give this a twofold purpose and make a charitable donation to the organization of their choice. I'm still deciding on who I'll support.

Any questions or comments, you know where to leave 'em.

 
 
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McFadden's sixth novel, Glorious, opens with the historical win of boxing legend Jack Johnson against James Jeffries on July 4, 1910. Though seen as a victory for blacks as a whole, this event set off a series of unfortunate events in the life Easter Bartlett. Family tragedy sends her literally walking away from her hometown of Waycross, Georgia. Her journey from the rural Georgia to Harlem includes a stint living with her aunt and her being eyewitness to one of the most horrific acts of violence of the time. A very bright and well read young woman, Easter finds solace in writing. A chance encounter with a childhood friend brings her to Harlem just as its black arts scene is blossoming. Easter falls right into place with the literary notables of the time and their patronage by white benefactors. An ill-fated writing contest brings Easter more misfortune but an unlikely discovery decades later brings her redemption and peace.

This novel spanning four decades was so captivating from the onset. I could not put it down. I found myself tearing through the pages and fearing I was reading it too fast. Glorious is a master's course in writing narrative. Every character is fully realized and relevant. The story moved gracefully and without trepidation as McFadden unabashedly explores the realities of the Jim Crow era South and the status of women. Bernice McFadden broke and healed my heart in 235 pages and when I closed the book, I felt changed.

 
 
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Bernardo and the Virgin
Silvio Sirias
(Northwestern University Press)ISBN-10: 0810122405ISBN-13: 978-0810122406


Review

Bernardo Martinez is a devout Catholic and sacristan in his church in Cuapa, Nicaraugua. Based on actual events, Bernardo and the Virgin is a sweeping tale that juxtaposes the spirituality of Catholicism against the revolution occurring as the socialist Sandinistas overthrow the Somoza regime.  In 1980, Bernardo is visited by an apparition of the Virgin Mary and she instructs him to encourage everyone to pray the rosary daily and to "work for peace." He's well aware that he's not in a position where anyone would take him seriously, but his strong faith gives him the courage to be obedient. Not only do we learn how the title character is affected by the presence of the Virgin, but also that of others who all share some sort of connection with Bernardo. While interspersing Spanish throughout the novel, Sirias paints a vivid picture of village life in Cuapa. The overall tone is more spiritual than religious and exposes such humanity through Bernardo's complete surrender to his beliefs.  This in spite of his being denied the priesthood in his youth because he was deemed to poor. Just as in Meet Me Under the Ceiba, Sirias has given us another beautifully written novel revealing the intricacies of Central America. Bernardo and the Virgin was a great reminder of why I love historical fiction.

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Support the author and an indie bookstore. Purchase your copy of Bernardo and the Virgin at Dulce Bread & Bookshop.





Giveaway

We're also hosting a unique giveaway on this book tour. Leave a question to be answered in Friday's live chat with author Silvio Sirias and you may be selected to win one of each: a change-purse and a decoration made by the Kuna artisans in Panama, called Molas.

Tour Hosts

Mon June 7 Latino Book Examiner
Tues June 8 Regular Rumination and La Bloga
Wed June 9  When I Was in 'nam
Thurs June 10 Sandra's Book Club
Fri June 11 Sententia Vera

Mon June 14 The Tranquilo Traveler
Tues June 15 BrownGirl BookSpeak
Wed June 16 The Book Nook
Thur June 17 Pisti Totol-Black Bird
Fri June 18 Musings

Live chat is Friday, June 18 at 7 pm EST at Condor Book Tours.

 
 
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This quietly engaging tale set in Morocco sheds light on the many levels of corruption in government and that even the most honest of men can fall privy to its pull. Mourad is an engineer whose job at the Ministry of Development is to grant his signed approval to contracts for new construction projects. While his co-workers accept bribes for Mourad's golden signature, he vehemently remains honest. His loveless marriage to a woman who does nothing but spew verbal venom at him on a regular basis and the desire to do more for his two children leave him feeling he has no other option. Mourad uncomfortably navigates this world involving thick, money filled envelopes that open doors to luxuries that he's still timid about indulging in and we see troubling psychological repercussions descend upon him.  This short novel is a well written fictional exploration of morality, social class, and bureaucracy.

Challenges:
Reading Africa
POC Reading


 
 
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And the winner of a copy of Moonshine by Alaya Johnson is.....

Ari from Reading In Color! Yay Ari! I'll be emailing you shortly for your mailing info. If the winner doesn't respond within 48 hours, I'll have to select an alternate.

Now, in other news...

Anyone who's followed this book blog for the almost year it's been in existence knows that I champion authors of color. One of the first things I became aware of as a new book blogger was virtual tours and immediately thought it was a brilliant idea. I knew that I had to make such a service available focused on authors of color. Then I met Yolonda Spinks and we became fast friends over our mutual frugal lifestyles and even better friends because of books. Spinks, as we love to call her, is an amazing activist, journalism major, and staunch supporter of literature by people of color. When I approached her about working together on a virtual book tour company, she revealed that she already had a book related venture in mind. Well, we thought that our two ideas combined would be a good match and Books And... was born.

Initially I was apprehensive about cross promoting too much on my personal blog. I know, I'm weird like that and I know that a hardcore business person would call me a fool. But, I didn't want any of my readers to feel like BrownGirl Speaks was becoming a constant pitch zone for my business. This is one of the reasons I don't have ads on my site. I want this to be a blog not be a billboard. So, Books And... is here to provide virtual tours for authors of color and plans for expansion into local events. I hope that those of you who follow my blog and Notorious Spinks Talks will support Books And... and know that we are working hard to bring much needed attention to authors of all shades of brown, black, and olive.

Books And...
www.booksand.net
www.twitter.com/booksanddotnet
 
 
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Synopsis
A race of women have lived in relative peace for centuries. But strange forces have come through the ages to finish what was started.

Review
"She was a memory. She was a warning. She was everything they never wanted to remember, everything they worked hard to forget. Yet, she was their sister, and a part of their world."

The synopsis of this short but thoughtful piece of speculative fiction is simple but doesn't quite do it justice. I came across When We Were One after RAWSISTAZ tweeted that they were having a live chat with the author, Zaji.

I thought the book had a unique premise. I just had to know how such a place could exist that only women inhabited. It's through a scientific phenomenon known as parthenogenesis (a type of asexual reproduction found in females) and a derivative of the term, Parthos, is the name of the land they inhabit. The most fascinating part of this story was the dynamics of how these women related to each other and their environment. They had managed to harness a beautiful balance between themselves and nature through characteristics like "mind-talk" and being almost completely uninhibited by time. They maintain a Hall of Words which houses remaining books mostly of laws that the "sisters" find ridiculous and exemplify how humans of centuries past were intellectually bereft. An inevitable change ushered in by the late gestation of an elder is one that will put the sisters to an unimaginable test. A test that reveals the essence of their existence.

Zaji's writing is very poetic and accessible. When We Were One has definitely kept my interest piqued in speculative fiction as this genre often offers up some interesting social and political commentary. While I found its social criticism lacking in a certain cleverness, it still makes for an insightful read.

When We Were One is available as a download or paperback from LuLu.