Monthly Archives: April 2016

The Turner House, by Angela Flournoy

Turner House

The Turner House

Angela Flournoy

Houghton Mifflin, 2015

352 pages

This is a delightful read that I didn’t want to end! There are 13 adult children in the Turner family and in 2008 a decision needs to be made about the fate of the family home in Detroit. The family has lived in East Detroit for over 50 years and Viola, the matriarch is not well, and is living with the eldest child, Cha Cha. Cha Cha thinks it is time to sell the house, but the value of the house is now less than what is left on the mortgage, and not all of the siblings agree with his idea. The family needs to come together to make a decision and support their aging mother.

There are so many aspects that I loved about this book: the crisp writing; the distinct and alive characters; and the artful balance between plot and character development, but I also loved the central theme—how grown adults siblings, ranging from their 40s to their 60s, interact with each other and cope with their family legacy. Most of the story revolves around the lives of Cha Cha, and the youngest Turner, Lelah, who also lives in Detroit. But the other siblings are part of the story, and their parents’ back-story, and journey to Detroit from the south, is also recounted. This is a powerful look at a 21st century African-American family dealing with each other and the current economic situation in Detroit.

Flournoy has been nominated for and won awards for this book – for good reason! The book is now out in paperback and perfect for an early summer read.

 

 

 

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Debuts in the News

I came across some articles and a podcast about debuts this week that I would like to share. The first one, from Bustle, talks about three debut novelists who have made it to the shortlist of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, which celebrates women writers around the world. It is always nice to see debuts get attention in contests, as it gives them more visibility than they would get otherwise.

In the US, The Nest, a debut novel by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, about a wealthy dysfunctional New York family, made it on to the NY Times hardcover bestseller list this week. This is extremely unusual, as only a few debuts ever make it to this list. But Sweeney has gotten a lot of press, both for the book and her advance, which was in the seven figures. She is also an older author, making her debut in her 50s. The book is described as a dark comedy

And the Minorities in Publishing podcast features a conversation with three debut novelists and their experiences getting their books out in the world. The conversation includes, Sophia Chester, Leland Cheuk and Mira Jacobs. It’s a frank look at what it means to get a book published when you are a minority.

Happy spring reading, all!

 

 

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