New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2007

The New York Times publishes a list of “100 Notable Books” each year (see the complete list for 2017). The fiction, poetry, and nonfiction books are selected annually by the editors of “The New York Times Book Review.” The list represents the most notable books reviewed by the Times during the the prior 12 months. We share the authors of African descent who made the “Notables” list.

7 Noteable Books by Authors of African Descent in 2007


Fiction


Knots
by Nuruddin Farah



Publication Date:
List Price: $17.00 (store prices may vary)
Format: Paperback
Classification: Fiction
Page Count: x432
ISBN13: 9780143112983
Imprint: Penguin Books
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC

Book Description: 
From the internationally revered author of Links comes "a beautiful, hopeful novel about one woman’s return to war-ravaged Mogadishu" (Time)

Called "one of the most sophisticated voices in modern fiction" (The New York Review of Books), Nuruddin Farah is widely recognized as a literary genius. He proves it yet again with Knots, the story of a woman who returns to her roots and discovers much more than herself. Born in Somalia but raised in North America, Cambara flees a failed marriage by traveling to Mogadishu. And there, amid the devastation and brutality, she finds that her most unlikely ambitions begin to seem possible. Conjuring the unforgettable extremes of a fractured Muslim culture and the wayward Somali state through the eyes of a strong, compelling heroine, Knots is another Farah masterwork.


Fiction


Brother, I’m Dying
by Edwidge Danticat



Publication Date:
List Price: $23.95 (store prices may vary)
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Fiction
Page Count: x288
ISBN13: 9781400041152
Imprint: Knopf
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC

Book Description: 
From the best-selling author of The Dew Breaker, a major work of nonfiction: a powerfully moving family story that centers around the men closest to her heart—her father, Mira, and his older brother, Joseph.

From the age of four, Edwidge Danticat came to think of her uncle Joseph, a charismatic pastor, as her “second father,” when she was placed in his care after her parents left Haiti for a better life in America. Listening to his sermons, sharing coconut-flavored ices on their walks through town, roaming through the house that held together many members of a colorful extended family, Edwidge grew profoundly attached to Joseph. He was the man who “knew all the verses for love.”

And so she experiences a jumble of emotions when, at twelve, she joins her parents in New York City. She is at last reunited with her two youngest brothers, and with her mother and father, whom she has struggled to remember. But she must also leave behind Joseph and the only home she’s ever known.

Edwidge tells of making a new life in a new country while fearing for the safety of those still in Haiti as the political situation deteriorates. But Brother I’m Dying soon becomes a terrifying tale of good people caught up in events beyond their control. Late in 2004, his life threatened by an angry mob, forced to flee his church, the frail, eighty-one-year-old Joseph makes his way to Miami, where he thinks he will be safe. Instead, he is detained by U.S. Customs, held by the Department of Homeland Security, brutally imprisoned, and dead within days. It was a story that made headlines around the world. His brother, Mira, will soon join him in death, but not before he holds hope in his arms: Edwidge’s firstborn, who will bear his name—and the family’s stories, both joyous and tragic—into the next generation.

Told with tremendous feeling, this is a true-life epic on an intimate scale: a deeply affecting story of home and family—of two men’s lives and deaths, and of a daughter’s great love for them both.


Fiction


The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
by Junot Diaz



Publication Date:
List Price: $16.00 (store prices may vary)
Format: Paperback
Classification: Fiction
Page Count: x339
ISBN13: 9781594483295
Imprint: Riverhead Books
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC

Book Description: 
Winner of:
The Pulitzer Prize
The National Book Critics Circle Award
The Anisfield-Wolf Book Award
The Jon Sargent, Sr. First Novel Prize
A Time Magazine #1 Fiction Book of the Year

One of the best books of 2007 according to: The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, New York Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, The Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, People, The Village Voice, Time Out New York, Salon, Baltimore City Paper, The Christian Science Monitor, Booklist, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, New York Public Library, and many more…

Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who—from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister—dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love. But Oscar may never get what he wants. Blame the fuk —a curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the USA. Encapsulating Dominican-American history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao opens our eyes to an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and explores the endless human capacity to persevere—and risk it all—in the name of love.


Fiction


The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears
by Dinaw Mengestu



Publication Date:
List Price: $16.00 (store prices may vary)
Format: Paperback
Classification: Fiction
Page Count: x240
ISBN13: 9781594482854
Imprint: Riverhead Books
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC

Book Description: 
Seventeen years ago, Sepha Stephanos fled the Ethiopian Revolution for a new start in the United States. Now he finds himself running a failing grocery store in a poor African-American section of Washington, D.C., his only companions two fellow African immigrants who share his bitter nostalgia and longing for his home continent. Years ago and worlds away Sepha could never have imagined a life of such isolation. As his environment begins to change, hope comes in the form of a friendship with new neighbors Judith and Naomi, a white woman and her biracial daughter. But when a series of racial incidents disturbs the community, Sepha may lose everything all over again.

Watch a QuickTime interview with Dinaw Mengestu about this book.


Nonfiction


A Long Way Gone
by Ishmael Beah



Publication Date:
Format: Paperback
Classification: Nonfiction
Page Count: x240
ISBN13: 9780374531263
Imprint: Palgrave Macmillan
Publisher: Macmillan
Parent Company: Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck

Book Description: 

My new friends have begun to suspect I haven't told them the full story of my life.

"Why did you leave Sierra Leone?". "Because there is a war." "You mean, you saw people running around with guns and shooting each other?" "Yes, all the time." "Cool."

I smile a little.

"You should tell us about it sometime."

"Yes, sometime."

This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them.

What is war like through the eyes of a child soldier? How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this hell and survived.

In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now twenty-five years old, tells a riveting story: how at the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he'd been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts.

This is a rare and mesmerizing account, told with real literary force and heartbreaking honesty.






Nonfiction


Ralph Ellison: A Biography
by Arnold Rampersad



Publication Date:
List Price: $35.00 (store prices may vary)
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Nonfiction
Page Count: x672
ISBN13: 9780375408274
Imprint: Knopf
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Parent Company: Bertelsmann and Pearson PLC

Read Our Review of Ralph Ellison: A Biography

Book Description: 
The definitive biography of one of the most important American writers and cultural intellectuals of the twentieth century—Ralph Ellison, author of the masterpiece Invisible Man.

In 1953, Ellison’s explosive story of an innocent young black man’s often surreal search for truth and his identity won him the National Book Award for fiction and catapulted him to national prominence. Ellison went on to earn many other honors, including two presidential medals and election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, but his failure to publish a second novel, despite years of striving, haunted him for the rest of his life. Now, as the first scholar given complete access to Ellison’s papers, Arnold Rampersad has written not only a reliable account of the main events of Ellison’s life but also a complex, authoritative portrait of an unusual artist and human being.

Born poor and soon fatherless in 1913, Ralph struggled both to belong to and to escape from the world of his childhood. We learn here about his sometimes happy, sometimes harrowing years growing up in Oklahoma City and attending Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Arriving in New York in 1936, he became a political radical before finally embracing the cosmopolitan intellectualism that would characterize his dazzling cultural essays, his eloquent interviews, and his historic novel. The second half of his long life brought both widespread critical acclaim and bitter disputes with many opponents, including black cultural nationalists outraged by what they saw as his elitism and misguided pride in his American citizenship.

This biography describes a man of magnetic personality who counted Saul Bellow, Langston Hughes, Robert Penn Warren, Richard Wright, Richard Wilbur, Albert Murray, and John Cheever among his closest friends; a man both admired and reviled, whose life and art were shaped mainly by his unyielding desire to produce magnificent art and by his resilient faith in the moral and cultural strength of America.

A magisterial biography of Ralph Waldo Ellison—a revelation of the man, the writer, and his times.


Poetry


Selected Poems
by Derek Walcott



Publication Date:
List Price: $25.00 (store prices may vary)
Format: Hardcover
Classification: Poetry
Page Count: x328
ISBN13: 9780374260668
Imprint: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publisher: Macmillan
Parent Company: Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck

Book Description: 

"No poet rivals Mr. Walcott in humor, emotional depth, lavish inventiveness in language or in the ability to express the thoughts of his characters and compel the reader to follow the swift mutations of ideas and images in their minds . . . [His poetry] makes us realize that history, all of it, belongs to us." 'The New York Times

This career-spannning retrospective, culled from nearly 50 years of work, will go a long way toward reminding readers of the breadth and depth of Nobel laureate Walcott's achievement. Though he is perhaps best known for his modern epic, Omeros, which tells a Homeric tale set in St. Lucia, Walcott is a fine lyric poet as well, writing in traditional forms and meters as well as in powerful free verse. Alongside the epic tone that he brought into modern verse

I sing of Achille, Afolabe's son,
who never ascended in an elevator

is lustful writing about a woman humming Bob Marley on a bus, a casual description of being mugged in Greenwich Village or a painter's-eye view of a fish. The political Walcott is also here; observing a crowd listening to a politician, he writes,

Who will name this silence
respect? Those forced, hoarse hosannas
awe?"

The lyric Walcott is well represented, but the long poems which are necessarily excerpted'prove more problematic. At best, the editor can hope that readers, hooked by one of these narrative poems, will be compelled to seek out the complete version. Nonetheless, this book represents a milestone in the career of a major writer.
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