Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Small Island, Small World

I am making my way through Andrea Levy’s wonderful Small Island so I read Moorish Girl’s recentish post on the novel with great interest. She quotes a nice but provincial write up from AP and then writes:
Just once I wish the reporter assigned to Levy wouldn't make the comparison with Zadie Smith and Monica Ali. (One wonders why those comparisons were not made on the publication of Levy's previous novel, or, for that matter, why Smith and Ali weren't compared to Levy, who's been writing and publishing for far longer.) And while I'm at it, I do wish reporters would just stop making stories by writers of color seem like the flavor of the moment. Newsflash: writers of color are here to stay.

Touché. Comparisons are helpful when they actually help us understand more fully what a book is, what it’s about, but the same old tired comparisons over and over become wearing and show laziness, not helpful insight. If every writer about black Britain now has to be compared to Zadie Smith, then comparisons are no better than a parody of a Hollywood pitch: “It’s like White Teeth but without the Islamic fundamentalism and forty years earlier and not so funny…”

But really, what got me excited what the link Moorish Girl had a few days later to Book Coolie’s comments on Levy. Oh Book Coolie! What a great site to have found. Here’s someone who has read a lot, it seems, and really knows the older Caribbean literature (Selvon, C.L.R. James, Lamming, Naipaul) upon which Levy builds and draws. A great site. Check it out.

Plus, more than Moorish Girl (who is great but has a different kind of blog), Book Coolie has those meaty little essays I love AND not about the same books that everyone else is talking about. Go there.

And, while you’re wandering the globe, check out Chippla’s blog for an African man’s take on carrying babes vs. strollers. He’s all about “attachment parenting,” but coming at it not from the oppressive American granola context. I’m not about to give up the stroller, but I found his post fascinating. (Via Black Looks)

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