Category: Books

Nile Valley Contributions to Civilisation, Anthony Browder

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An outstanding introduction to Egyptology, or as I can now say with profound understanding, ‘Kemet’. There was no ‘Egypt’ prior to the Greek use of the word ‘Egypt’, Africans referred to their land as Kemet, that is, the Black Land.
Browder presents a text that is concise, easy to access and simply marvellous. Africans, intellects and those of you with unbiased minds, consider the truth that Egypt, before it was named so, was the first important contribution to civilisation as we know it. Yes, black African kings, queens, scientists and mathematicians whose influences exist today. Share this text with pride.

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Native Son, Richard Wright

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Incredibly frustrating, yet impossible to put down. Yes, I was torn, torn between the unpleasant tale of the scurrilous brute Bigger Thomas, who murders the daughter from a rich white family, followed by an elaborate fast-paced plot to conceal his crime. The narrative worsens as Bigger goes on to murder his girlfriend, a young black girl, who he fears will reveal his doing. With exception to the first 30 pages, Wright creates an unbelievably encapsulating 1930s drama. Not a book I’d recommend for the faint hearted, and certainly not one suitable to the younger reader, however; credit where credit is due, Wright (as usual) writes with stunning effect.

A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess

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This book is simply genius. Burgess creates a unique piece of work that’s completely in a class of it’s own. The language is unique and richly entertaining. It’s a collection of odd, futuristic dystopian dialect. You’ll find yourself whilst reading this text (and after) making reference to ‘droogs’, ‘glazzies’ or ‘to tolchock a chelloveck in the kishkas’! My favourite of all though, is reserved for reference to the young ‘devotchkas.’
You’ve probably heard about this text through the famously banned film depicted by Stanley Kubrick. Luckily I wasn’t in the position of seeing the film before reading the book which allowed my encounter to be unbiased, without fear or favour. I will certainly read this again before I die! Recommended by the girlfriend…Well done, I say.

The Beach, Alex Garland

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Alex Garland delivers what is undoubtedly a superb piece of writing. Rich in narrative, description and imagery, the story centres on the discovery of a select community, hidden away on a secret Thai lagoon. Richard, the main protagonist, is caught in an exotic spiriting adventure, where the inhabitants of the beach fight to keep their precious secret location from the outside world, ending in an ultimate fight for survival. This novel is fast paced, written with conviction and an unquestionable intelligence. A lifetime must read.

Lord of the Flies, William Golding

This book is proclaimed as a twentieth century classic and is used ardently in schools across these British Isles. Golding tells the tale of a group of schoolboys who crash land on a tropical island and grapple amongst themselves to form an orderly society. The boys fail to keep order and quickly descend into juvenile savagery. Fixated on the hunt, and the need to acquire meat, the schoolboys divide – one side lead by Jack, who eventually orchestrates cult like murders. I can see why this book is popular, and undoubtedly has an appeal to a male audience (but not exclusively). Golding is descriptive, thorough and has an obsessive like for the word ‘ululation’. I was hotly surprised at some of the racist undertones, in particular a reference to savagery being akin to a group of black people! You are the judge, I leave you with the following quote from the book: ‘Which is better – to be a pack of painted niggers like you are, or to be sensible like Ralph is?’

The Children of Sisyphus, Orlando Patterson

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Hmmmmm…I’m torn. First published in 1964, this book is written well, very well. The patois is accessible, true and accurate. The narrative however is unquestionably grim, so you’ll have to be in the right frame of mind. Set in the slums of Kingston some time ago, the story circles on three characters who desperately seek a way of escaping their sad and grubby existence. They never make it! The author – Patterson, starts you off on a low and takes you even lower. If you’re into Rastafarianism or Revivalism then this may appeal to you. I found a copy of this book in my mother’s loft in a state of decay – needless to say, I shall be placing it back!

The Lonely Londoners, Sam Selvon

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A wonderfully written account from the perspective of new arrivals from the Caribbean in 1950’s London. Selvon provides an unforgettable narrative detailing a perspective of what our parents and grandparents were likely to have endured in London having made the long trip from the islands. Selvon is able to capture the dialogue and accents so accurately, leaving you smiling and grinning at the expense of Moses and Sir Galahad. Fantastically entertaining and easy to follow if you’re from the Caribbean. Grab a second hand copy and pass it on.

American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis

This has to be one of the sickest books I’ve read ever. My girlfriend thinks I secretly identify with the main character Patrick Bateman. A self obsessed, attention to detail, megalomaniac serial killer, who tortures women! How could she think we’re similar? Ellis delivers a book which is unbelievably descriptive through the eyes of Bateman whose psychopathic obsession with status, money, fine dining and murder – leaves you turning the pages without drawing breath. I picked up  a copy cheap in good old Liverpool. A must read for the not so faint hearted. I’ve read it twice, so maybe she’s right?

Malcolm X: A Life Of Reinvention, Manning Marable

This book is awesome. I read the original autobiography by Alex Haley last year, and was quickly drawn into the character that is Malcolm Little. Such a layered character, who’s memory and influence still live on to this day. My sweet girlfriend, bless her, alerted me to this up and coming release, and somehow before I knew it, I had pre-ordered my first book ever! Manning Marable delivers a forensic, no nonsense biographical account of Malcolm X. Marable’s work is without controversy, in it’s attempt to dispel certain myths about X, and goes some way in introducing some jaw dropping revelations. I won’t spoil it for you – it’s a must read for all you die hard Malcolm X fans!

The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin

My girlfriend recommended James Baldwin to me. I picked this book up free in a little store in Kentish Town, North London. What a find! Man, James can write. James Baldwin delivers an account in the form of two essays – one, an address to his nephew on how to survive living in a racist society in the USA. The second, an essay on the black movement the Nation of Islam – where Baldwin grapples with the Nation’s affirmative stance on non integration between blacks and whites. If you’re into eassays or simply looking for beautifully written prose, then Baldwin’s the man!

Baldwin’s first novel ‘Go Tell it on the Mountain’ is on my radar.