Susan’s Staff Pick – “Darktown”

Darktown by Thomas Mullen

Thomas Mullen has written a historical fiction crime story that is relevant to today’s headlines.

The story is set in Atlanta in 1948; the Atlanta police department has just hired the first black police officers and the problems began.

I was dismayed, though not shocked, to read some of the details – the new police officers were not welcome in the city’s police station. They had their own mini-station in the basement of the local YMCA. They were actively threatened, belittled and almost killed at various times by their fellow officers – the white ones.

However, there are glimpses of cooperation between some officers as they try to solve the crimes against black residents of the city.

Currently, many of the issues between black and white officers still seem to be problematic as do the relationships between people and police officers in general.

This is a thought-provoking, interesting book. Worth reading!

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New in November

Swing Time by Zadie Smith; available November 15

Two brown girls dream of being dancers but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either.
Tracey makes it to the chorus line but struggles with adult life, while her friend leaves the old neighborhood behind, traveling the world as an assistant to a famous singer, Aimee, observing close up how the one percent live.

But when Aimee develops grand philanthropic ambitions, the story moves from London to West Africa, where diaspora tourists travel back in time to find their roots, young men risk their lives to escape into a different future, the women dance just like Tracey the same twists, the same shakes and the origins of a profound inequality are not a matter of distant history, but a present dance to the music of time.

Moonglow by Michael Chabon; available November 22

In 1989, fresh from the publication of his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, Michael Chabon traveled to his mother s home in Oakland, California, to visit his terminally ill grandfather. Tongue loosened by powerful painkillers, memory stirred by the imminence of death, Chabon’s grandfather shared recollections and told stories the younger man had never heard before, uncovering bits and pieces of a history long buried and forgotten. That dreamlike week of revelations forms the basis for the novel Moonglow, the latest feat of legerdemain from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon.

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Julie’s Staff Pick – “The Last Days of Night”

The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore

A historical novel about the first days of electric light. Doesn’t sound all that riveting? You’ll be surprised. The story of the rivalry between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse – told from the perspective of Westinghouse’s young, ambitious lawyer – is truly fascinating. Other characters include the strange inventor Nikola Tesla and the mysterious actress Agnes Huntington. Graham Moore kept me turning pages with multi-layered characters, lively dialogue, and unexpected twists and turns.