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I bought The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao on [livejournal.com profile] ethereal_lad's recommendation but was afraid it would be too literary for me, too New Yorker-ish and twee.

No! Not at all!

It's GREAT! I was drawn in immediately. By page 3 I was laughing hysterically and yelping to everyone in the house about the fantastic characters, the jokes, and the footnotes which are half about Dominican history and half quotes from the Silmarillion. Oscar's story, his sister's, his mom's, U.S. pop culture, geek culture, the history of Trujillo and the politics of the D.R. for the rest of the century, everything mixes up together to build an amazing, intense, and deeply nerdy view of the world. If you're a science fiction or comic book or role playing game geek, bump this book up to the top of your reading list.

Don't worry about not getting the Spanish bits, that is what the Internet is for. Look it up if you must. But you can enjoy the book without knowing what "carajo" or "coñazo" means. It's just more fun if you do know.

Note that you can buy it in Spanish if you like.

ALSO

I just noticed Junot Díaz is really, really cute.

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A while ago I was looking something up on blackpast.com and started browsing their encyclopedia of biographies. Came across Octavia Victoria Rogers Albert and ended up ordering her book, The House of Bondage, or, Charlotte Brooks and Other Slaves, first published in 1890.



Rogers tells the stories of her neighbors and friends who came out from under slavery in the Southern U.S. She adds in commentary and some interviewing. The prefaces and introductions alone are enough reason to buy this awesome book as they list out books by black women in the 1800s and explain the thought behind this book series - The Schomburg Library of Nineteenth Century Black Women Writers. Here is a great place to start with some narratives of life on Louisiana plantations, of preaching Protestant sermons and hymns against orders from Catholic masters, of later reuniting & proud parents crying as their sons and daughters graduate from college... Very intense.

The entire Schomburg Library series looks good. They're small pocket books and nicely bound & printed.

I recommend you add to this: "A Voice from the South" by Anna Julia Cooper, which explains intersectionality of gender, and race so well and, fuck, she quotes Madame de Stael and just generally rocks. And "The Value of Race Literature" by Victoria Earle Matthews.

They go well together!
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I'm going to give this a shot: joining [livejournal.com profile] 50books_poc and reading at least 50 books by people of color this year. I'll cross post here, on 50books_poc and if it's SF or fantasy, on http://blogs.feministsf.net . Even if it's just a mention and a link, having the "50 books" goal will mean that I at least do that (for books that otherwise sit around with me thinking "I really should write that a great review".)

Thanks for the link & post, [livejournal.com profile] rachelmanija! (http://rachelmanija.livejournal.com/693817.html)

I'll title and tag 50books_poc.

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