Four authors pick their must-reads for Black History Month
|Toronto Star 21 Feb 2020 at 13:11|
We asked four authors to pick their recommended reading for Black History Month. The result? A little something for everybody. Here’s what they chose.
Téa Mutonji, author of “Shut Up, You’re Pretty”
“Daughters of Silence” by Rebecca Fisseha (Goose Lane Editions): A Canadian flight attendant gets stranded in her home country of Ethiopia. It is raw, funny and compulsive. All you really can do is hold on.
“Frying Plantain” by Zalika Reid-Benta (House of Anansi): The opening story reads: “On my first visit to Jamaica, I saw a pig’s severed head.” “Frying Plantain” is a journey through cities, through bodies, through language and through relationships. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry.
Nadia L. Hohn, author of “ A Likkle Miss Lou ”
“I selected two books based on ‘history’ and ‘identity,’” Hohn says.
“Black Writers Matter” an anthology edited by Whitney French (University of Regina Press), features contemporary new and established Canadian writers’ essays and reflections. Whitney is of Jamaican-Canadian descent and lives in Toronto. It is the next physical book I plan to read.
“Elijah of Buxton” by Christopher Paul Curtis (Scholastic) is a middle-grade novel about Elijah, the first child born free in an early Ontario community of escaped slaves. Curtis has a knack for writing historical middle grade with a modern voice that connects with readers. He is African-American but has lived in Windsor, Ont., for several years.
Rebecca Fisseha, author of “ Daughters of Silence ”
“Fire Walkers” by Bethlehem Terrefe Gebreyohannes (Mawenzi House), who lives in Toronto. A book : “Gebreyohannes’s vivid memoir describes their yearlong trek across the inhospitable Danakil Desert on foot, a dangerous journey where they met both cruelty and kindness before reaching safety in Djibouti.”
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“Abyssinian Nomad: An African Woman’s Journey of Love, Loss, and Adventure From Cape to Cairo” by Maskarm Haile (self-published), who is from Montreal. A memoir of “a Black female soul-searcher, faced my greatest trial in confronting my fear of losing my mother to cancer, trying to keep old love alive and make my childhood dream come true.”
Richardo Keens-Douglas, author of “The Nutmeg Princess”
“Oscar Peterson: The Man and His Jazz” by Jack Batten (PRH): A wonderful story about Oscar Peterson’s strength and survival, coming from the ghetto to become one of the best piano players in the world. I like that it’s a very positive story for young men and boys today.
One book that all schools — and homes — should have is “The Kids Book of Black Canadian History” by Rosemary Sadlier, illustrated by Wang Qijun (Kids Can Press). It provides a comprehensive picture of the history of Black people in this country.