Wednesday, 29 April 2015

TALKING BOOKS: Easton Lee's Kiss Mi Granny + New Michelle O bio + Becoming Harry Belafonte

MAMA MADE THE DIFFERENCE: Show of hands those who've read or own a copy of Easton Lee's 2000 anthology From Behind the Counter? This seminal book of poems introduced many Jamaicans to the wit, lyrical prowess and vivid recollections of one of the most esteemed chroniclers of our island heritage. More than a decade later comes Kiss Mi Granny (Bala Press), Lee's recently published collection of stories and verse, in which he gives voice to the wisdom and priceless good humour of the island's matriarchs, paying homage to their strength, perseverance and their legacy of grace, quiet dignity and courage. 

HOW DOES SHE DO IT: For many she's the quintessential high-achieving Black woman, the First Lady the world had been waiting for. But author and journalist Peter Slevin has a new dimension to reveal. The Washington Post veteran details his account of the Commander-in-Chic in Michelle Obama: A Life, which publishers Knopf have dubbed the first comprehensive account of the evolution of this formidable achiever and woman of purpose. As the bio unfolds, the author traces Mrs. Obama's roots from the working-class childhood she enjoyed in Chicago's South Side all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. "The many new details," USA Today reports, "combined with a keen sense of the political and social dynamics at work during Mrs. Obama's formative years, makes this book a standout." 

LIFE BEYOND MEASURE: Harry Belafonte's journey is already the stuff of legend. How this son of immigrant Jamaican parents parlayed his humble Harlem roots into global-icon status is the focus of Judith E. Smith's new 368-page biography Becoming Belafonte: Black Artist, Public Radical (University of Texas Press). By and large, it's an interpretive study that explores Belafonte the actor-musician, civil rights activist, humanitarian and family man  spun in the context of class relations, human rights and Black pride. "[Becoming Belafonte] is so engaging," Kirkus Reviews raves, "readers will crave a sequel.

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