Today, I had to go to this research session at the library. The librarian went around the table and each one of my class members announced the boring people that they’re researching. When my turn came I announced Donald Goines’ name. Of course nobody knows who that is. “Never heard of him.” I’m sure. Probably haven’t heard of Terry McMillan or Lorraine Hansberry either. I won’t identify why the woman hasn’t heard of these people, but you get the hint. I’m not bothered. I haven’t heard of any of the other authors people are researching. So of course Mrs. Librarian goes up to the computer and types in Goines first, revealing whatever appears on her computer on an even bigger screen before us. The first criticism that came up was “I’m Goin Pimp Whores.” And I quote. Not I’m gonna or gone…”goin.” I was so embarrassed. But it wasn’t until I saw these two chicks give each other a look that the embarrassment shifted. I’ve been analyzing that look in my head all day. Whatever though.

I realize I’ve written about Donald Goines for the past few posts. Finished his biography. Really good. Don’t wanna do a review. Maybe another time. I’m supposed to be
writing postmodernist poetry right now. I will in just a second.

My other graduate duty happens to be research assistant. I like the professor I’m assisting. Every time she requests something, I learn something new. This time around I’m compiling a listing of alternative history texts–specifically dealing with race. Call me ignorant, but I didn’t even know such a genre existed. Come to find out, a couple of novels by Steven Barnes fall into this category. Now I’m all interested in reading his work. Even searched for him in the bookstore today…of course they didn’t have anything…you know why. I guess everything isn’t a race issue though. Maybe he has a cult following in this city or something. Un-huh. That’s exactly what it is…I’m sure!

Anyway, I’m sure the 20 of you all who view this site know who Steven Barnes is already so I’ll spare you the bio. Unfortunately, I wasn’t interested in reading his books before, but they have officially been added to the list. As a matter of fact, I should add a list of books that I want to read to the site. (Especially since what I will read next is now decided for me.) Maybe another time. My studies are calling. Plus, I read somewhere that they frown upon people in graduate school who have blogs. Don’t strike me down for this ‘oh ye higher ed Gods.’ I have to talk about books somewhere without being grammatically/critically judged.

Lion’s Blood deals with an alternate history universe in which Africa colonized the Americas, bringing European slaves here. The history of this world stretches back to 400 B.C., when Socrates refused to drink the hemlock that killed him, escaping Athens to Egypt, where he opened a school of philosophy. The novel takes place in approximately 1850 AD, and involves two main families: one of Islamic African aristocrats, the other of Druidic Irish slaves. It is a combination of Gone with the Wind and Roots, seen through a dark glass. Two young men, one of each genetic line, must deal with their world and each other.(Read an excerpt)

 Imagine a 19th-century America colonized by Islamic Africans instead of Christian Europeans. Imagine an Old South dominated by African culture and tradition where European slaves work the fields and dream of freedom. Welcome to Steven Barnes’s alternate history of the New World. Zulu Heart, the sequel to Barnes’s critically acclaimed Lion’s Blood, continues the story of two unlikely friends — African nobleman Kai ibn Rashid and Aidan O’Dere, a former Irish slave — who are traveling very different life paths. While Kai is trying to keep his southern estate, Dar Kush, out of a war between the world powers Egypt and Abyssinia as well as a civil war between New World colonies, Aidan is simply trying to stay alive — and escape from bondage. As tensions increase between world powers, it becomes evident that war is going to erupt in the New World. Egyptian ships are quietly massing in the harbors of New Djibouti, and after an attempt is made on Kai’s life, he cannot trust anyone — not even lifelong friends and his new Zulu wife. Aidan, struggling to make a life as a free man in the north, is called once again by his ex-master and best friend to help in a desperate scheme to stop the imminent bloodshed. But in order to achieve this, Aidan must again become a slave…(Read an excerpt)

Happy reading ya’ll.