A Particular Kind of Black Man

Tope Folarin. Simon & Schuster, $26 (272p) ISBN 978-1-5011-7181-9
Folarin’s tender, cunning debut begins as a realistic story of a boy coming of age in Utah in the 1980s, then slides into a subtle meditation on the unreliability of memory. Tunde, the older son of parents who emigrated from Nigeria, who is five years old when the novel opens, lives in a small town in Northern Utah where he is made to feel like an outsider. His hard-working father is frustrated because he can’t hold a job equal to his abilities, and his mentally ill mother frequently breaks down and physically abuses Tunde. When she leaves the family and returns home, Tunde’s father goes to Nigeria and brings back a “new mom,” who has two children of her own whom she prefers to her stepchildren. After a move to Texas, the narrator is accepted by Morehouse College, where he realizes to his alarm that he is experiencing “double memories” and is seeing “things I could have done as if I had done them,” which causes him to re-write the version of the past by which the reader has come to know him. Only when he visits Nigeria does “reality click into place.” Folarin pulls off the crafty trick of simultaneously bringing scenes to sharp life and undercutting their reliability, and evokes the complexities of life as a second-generation African-American in simple, vivid prose. Foralin’s debut is canny and electrifying. Agent: Maria Massie, Massie & McQuilkin. (Aug.)
Reviewed on : 05/15/2019
Release date: 08/06/2019
Genre: Fiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-5082-9457-3
Compact Disc - 978-1-5082-9459-7
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