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Now on to Father's Day! If you're shopping for Dad or for yourself, here are some books for fathers or about fathers.
Like Trees Walking by Ravi Howard. Howard's first novel is based on a true story of a lynching in the south during the 1980s. Yes, folks, the 1980s. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called it "a breathtaking debut."
Gods and Soldiers: The Penguin Anthology of Contemporary African Writing. Edited by Rob Spillman, editor of Tin House. For those without time to read a whole novel or for those who would appreciate an introduction to African literature. Spillman says, "My hope is that people read this book and see past the headlines of war, AIDS, and corruption to see that the majority of Africans are concerned with love, music, literature, and that many are global citizens who surf the web and are engaging in a dialogue with the rest of the world."
Before I Forget by Leonard Pitts Jr. From a starred review in Publisher's Weekly: In a seamless transition to fiction, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Pitts Jr. delivers an unsettling, compelling first novel about secrets, illness and the role of African-American men in society and family life."
Dad an academic? Try the riveting novel The Fall of Rome by Martha Southgate, the satire Erasure by Percival Everett or On Beauty by Zadie Smith, a lovely story about an academic and a father.
That Devil's No Friend of Mine by J.D. Mason. A man's death reshapes his daughter's life and the lives of others around him, including a creepy business partner, a female vocalist who may breakout if she can control her addiction, and a famous young boxer with a pretty f-upped fashion model wife. (He's the one I ended up feeling the most for.)
Shifting Through Neutral by Bridgett M. Davis. Also a story of a daughter-father relationship--which seems fairly rare in fiction. Booklist called it, "A riveting family drama filled with sharply drawn individuals who love and fail each other with stunning intensity."
The Making of Isaac Hunt by Linda Leigh Hargrove. A novel about a young man in search of his birth mother and the truth about his identity. (Linda hosts a great blog on racial reconciliation and progressive religious issues.)
A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School by Carlotta Walls Lanier. To be released in August, but you can pre-order for Dad (or yourself).
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. Mosaic Literary Magazine has a fascinating interview with Diaz in the current issue. One quote on writing about being a Dominican smarty pants: "Who am I? What really is my home? Why does nobody in my 'culture' understand me? It sounds pretty normal, but because we're immigrants, we're taught that it's more than that."
Step by Step by Bertie Bowman. I gave this one to my grandmother last year, but it's a good true story for men or women. Bowman worked for 60 years on Capitol Hill and saw it all. Truly a remarkable story, now in paperback.
America I AM Legends: Rare Moments and Inspiring Words. A collection with a forward by Tavis Smiley. From the book: "This lavish photography book captures the dynamism of 75 legendary African Americans through powerful images and penetrating words, showcasing the indelible imprint they have made on the United States and the world. A comment on each iconic figure—made by someone who knew the legend well or is carrying on their legacy today—captures the vision and contribution of each subject."
God Says No by James Hannaham. "Imagine Candide…—okay, imagine Candide as a black man, a southerner, a Christian fundamentalist, middle-class, obese, married, a father, and utterly, even profoundly gay. If a comedy, in the classical sense, is a story then ends in a marriage, and a tragedy is a story that ends with a death, then what do you call a book that ends with a split and a resurrection?" - Jim Lewis author of Why the Tree Loves the Ax
If your dad has already read Dreams From My Father, consider The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama by Gwen Ifill. And check out Literary Obama for news, reviews & commentary about other Obama books.
Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. A memoir by Cornel West that's not out till the fall, but you can pre-order it for Dad now.
The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons and an Unlikely Journey to Manhood by Ta-Nehisi Coates. "a small and beautiful epic about boys trying to become men" written by a son about his Vietnam vet father.
Anything by Walter Mosley, but I'm especially fond of his Easy Rawlins mysteries and the brilliant character Mouse (Don Cheadle played him in the movie with Denzel as Easy. Why isn't this a "franchise"?)
Dad looking for some (Mom-approved) thrills? Check out Gar Anthony Haywood's crime novels. (And see his clever rebuff to "proud non-reader" Kanye West's new so-called book.)
Dad like to cook...or need a little help in the kitchen? Try Make It Super Simple by Chef G. Garvin. From the book: "Written in an approachable and friendly tone, this collection of super simple recipes is perfect for everyday cooks who want something punchy, flavorful, and healthy—without a lot of fuss—to serve their families and friends."
Handle Time by Lincoln Park According to a reviewer on Amazon.com is "pee-in-your-pants funny." A story about American call centers recommended by a reader of this blog.
A must-read classic if you or your father haven't read it: Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man.
And, finally, if your father likes comics and graphic novels, go here for all kinds of cool books.