Friday, April 10, 2015

Asali Solomon

Asali Solomon's new novel is Disgruntled.

From her Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross:

GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross back with Asali Solomon, the author of "Disgruntled," a novel about race, class, identity and the impact of divorce on a child. It's told from the point of view of a girl named Kenya, growing up in the '80s in West Philadelphia, the daughter of black nationalist Afrocentric parents.

So one of the family issues in the book that really breaks up the family is that the father in the novel ends up having an affair with one of the mother's good friends...

SOLOMON: One of the Seven Days.

GROSS: ...Who's also a member of the group, the Seven Days, and this woman gets pregnant with Kenya's father. And so Kenya's father makes this offer to Kenya and her mother that they could just expand the family and welcome in, you know, this other person and this other person's baby. Would you read that passage from your novel?

SOLOMON: Sure. So this is Johnbrown, the father, talking to Sheila and Kenya after Sheila discovers he's been having an affair.

GROSS: And Sheila is...

SOLOMON: The mother - Kenya's mother.

GROSS: Kenya's mother, yep.

SOLOMON: (Reading) With your permission, Sheila and Kenya, I'd like for Cindalou and the baby to move in here. I'd like for us all to be a family. What did you say, Sheila asked. She dabbed at her mouth with a napkin and looked genuinely as if she hadn't heard, as if she was asking for a small clarification. Did you say cream or sugar? Lemonade - you want me to pass the lemonade? Well, Cindalou and I have been going to some events at the Yoruba temple, and - oh, you actually go out of the house? Glad to hear that. And I don't think the temple is for me. I mean, organized religion is organized religion, but some of the families in the traditional African - get back to the point. So you want to move that bitch and her bastard up in here where I pay the mortgage? I'm not understanding what this has to do with the temple because from what I know about traditional West African polygamy - Lord Jesus have mercy - the man supports the family. No, brother; I make the money. And here, she laughed, what you're proposing is pimping, and I am not a whore.

GROSS: Thank you for reading that. And that's Asali Solomon reading from her new novel, "Disgruntled." I love the way he's gotten this woman pregnant, he wants to, like, move her in, with this new baby, into the family and basically be polygamist, and he's got this philosophy that's going to justify it. It's not like he was philandering, you know what I'm saying?


GROSS: He was being disloyal or unfaithful. It's like, no, no, it's like African tradition of polygamy, and it's - you know? I - there's the hippie version of that, too.

SOLOMON: Oh, yes, of course, of course.

GROSS: (Laughter) There's the white hippie version of that.

SOLOMON: Yeah, that's not - that's not specific to - I mean, you know, this scenario is specific to black people, but I don't think that impulse to sort of, like, rationalize your behavior with, you know, some greater philosophy is, you know - I think that's a universal desire. But I also want to say, just as a side note, that, apparently, is my father's favorite scene...[read on]
Learn more about Disgruntled, and visit Asali Solomon's faculty webpage.

My Book, The Movie: Disgruntled.

--Marshal Zeringue