by Imani Perry, narrated by the author
Ecco, January 2022
source: library ebook, audible audiobook
This is a hard book to categorize, rate, and review. It reads like a combination memoir/travelogue with plenty of history for background and context. Perry, a black woman raised in Alabama, travels around the south to re-experience its culture, food, and arts. Along the way, she meets with people from a wide variety of backgrounds. Perry examines each area's history in an attempt to help the reader better understand the region as a whole and how it has shaped the American identity.
Perry's writing is beautiful, the histories are informative, and and several of the deep dives were fascinating. However, it just didn't come together as I'd hoped and I had a hard time following through to the big picture.
by Emily Henry
Berkley, May 2022
source: ebook borrowed from the library
I loved this book! I rarely read romance, but was immediately engaged and even laughing out loud by the end of the first chapter.
The plot follows an enemies-to-lovers trope and involves a cutthroat NYC literary agent, a handsome brooding editor, a struggling bookstore in a bucolic small town, and a lovely relationship between sisters. I don't want to say much more, but this story is fun, cozy, and very funny. I think it's Henry's best book yet, so be sure to tuck it into your beach bag this summer!
The Promise by Damon Galgut
Europa Editions, 2021
audiobook narrated by Peter Noble
9 hours and 37 minutes
source: purchased hardcover, audio borrowed from library via hoopla
The Promise, set in post-Apartheid South Africa, documents the downfall of a white family living on a farm outside of Pretoria. The promise in question was allegedly made by the father to the mother on her deathbed and is overheard by their youngest daughter. The dying woman wanted her black servant, who has been with the family for years, to be given the small house on the farm property in which she resides. This promise is not immediately kept. There are three subsequent chapters, each occurring at roughly ten year intervals and chronicling another family death and funeral.
The Promise won the 2021 Booker Prize and is the most literary novel I've read in a while. Though the overall mood is depressing, the structure is effective and engaging, and the writing is excellent. The story offers an interesting look at race relations in South Africa during this turbulent period, as well as the relationships within one specific family. If you're up for a more sobering read, I definitely recommend this book. I'd like to read more by Damon Galgut.