Thanks to my book group, my reading has picked up again. Social media also helps because it gives me the opportunity to see people’s book stacks, photos, and reviews. That said, I’ve just started Imbolo Mbue’s Behold the Dreamers. If you haven’t picked up this 2016 release, here’s a little excerpt to spark your interest:
“Of course I was going to know it was you,” Leah said. “You look very African, and I mean that in the nicest way, honey. Most Americans can’t tell Africans from Islanders, but I can pick out an African from a Jamaican any day. I just know these things.”
Jende chuckled nervously and said nothing, waiting for Leah to say goodbye and leave, which she didn’t. What was she going to say next? he thought. She seemed nice, but she was most likely one of those American women whose knowledge of Africa was based largely on movies and National Geographic and thirdhand information from someone who knew someone who had been to somewhere on the continent, usually Kenya or South Africa. Whenever Jende met such women (at Liomi’s school; at Marcus Garvey Park; in the livery cab he used to drive), they often said something like, oh my God, I saw this really crazy show about such-and-such in Africa. Or, my cousin/friend/neighbor used to date an African man, and he was a really nice guy. Or, even worse, if they asked him where in Africa he was from and he said Cameroon, they proceeded to tell him that a friend’s daughter once went to Tanzania or Uganda. This comment used to irk him until Winston gave him the perfect response: Tell them your friend’s uncle lives in Toronto. Which was what he now did every time someone mentioned some other African country in response to him saying he was from Cameroon. Oh yeah, he would say in response to something said about Senegal, I watched a show the other day about San Antonio. Or, one day I hope to visit Montreal. Or, I hear Miami is a nice city. And every time he did this, he cracked up inside as the Americans’ faces scrunched up in confusion because they couldn’t understand what Toronto/San Antonio/Montreal/Miami had to do with New York.
What another excerpt? Here. In the meantime, let me see what happens next.
Back to reading, y’all.
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