Some book suggestions to carry you into fall including ‘Homegoing’ and ‘Born a Crime’

Swans

This is a Pirate Amazon post! It’s like pirate radio, only it’s on a legit gossip blog and it’s been endorsed by the blog’s owner, CB. I asked (begged?) CB if I could do the Amazon post today so I could throw some more book recommendations your way. Interest-willing, I’m happy to put these together from time to time. I will remind everyone that I mainly read fiction, but I am going to try to branch out some in my recommendations to appeal to all tastes. (Just maybe not today.)

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin falls under my favorite form of fiction: historical fiction. I know that drives some people bonkers, but I love it. Melanie Benjamin wrote The Aviator’s Wife, which I didn’t read but was a best seller. Swans is a retelling of the friendship between Truman Capote and Babe Paley. It provides the reader with an inside view of New York high society in the 50s. It was released in 2016, but I just read it. I knew the players in the book but not the story. The author does a great job attracting the reader to unlikable characters. Capote is the ‘villain’ and yet, I spent most of my time wishing I could’ve been in his orbit. Plus there are a lot of nice little cameos for glamorous rapscallions, like Frank Sinatra.

Born
Because of your recommendations, I read Trevor Noah: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. So many of you told me to, and you were right. I rarely read biographies or autobiographies, but I thoroughly enjoyed this. His voice clearly comes across in his narrative without becoming so stylistic as to distract from his story, which is incredible. The timeline jumps back and forth so much that I’d get confused where we were in the story, but when you get to the end, you realize why he wrote it like that. And it’s extremely effective. The way he conveys deep emotion without ever being heavy-handed is masterful.

Blue
So Much Blue by Percival Everett was the first Everett book I read, although I have since read more. It’s still my favorite. It’s a quiet telling of some decidedly unquiet events that take place in El Salvador, Paris and the East Coast over the course of the protagonist’s life. He’s a painter who has a colorful (unintentional pun) past that comes to light slowly, filling in many of the blanks in his complicated personality. It reads like an old friend telling you a story they just remembered and some of the deeply emotional moments sneak up on you. Since reading this, I have learned that Everett is a professor at USC. I am so tempted to write him a fan letter. If I do ever meet him, I intend to ask him if Linda is happy.

Homegoing
I probably don’t even need to recommend Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. It’s such an amazing novel, many universities teach it in the African American history courses. Its list of awards runs the length of my arm. The story takes two half-sisters in Ghana in the 18th century, one of whom is sold into the slave trade, the other who marries an Englishman and lives in a Cape Coast Castle. The story follows each sister’s descendants to modern day. It’s a searing and evocative look at slavery. It is equally powerful discussing the injustices that took place in Ghana. This story will never leave you. It’s gutting. There were times I told myself it had to get better but then I remembered my US History and read on, clutching my stomach. However, the strength of the characters to whom you are introduced is inspiring.

Uprising
This last one is mainly for Quimby because I said I’d tell her my thoughts once I’d finished it: A People’s History of the Vampire Uprising by Raymond A. Villareal. I like the supernatural, even though I favor witches, bien sur, but I like my monsters to stay monsters so I’m picky about the books I read on them. This book was totally different than I expected. It’s written as an oral history of accumulated information – reports, articles, first-hand accounts – to explain how an assumed virus is turning people into ‘gloamings.’ It starts at the first case and takes you to the gloamings as an integral part of society. What I liked about it was the sociological conundrums it presents. I had to ask myself where I would come down on the issues it presents. Warning, several of the reviews on GoodReads say this is just a rehashing of World War Z. I have not read that so it may be, I don’t know. It only got three stars on Amazon.

Future possibility:

I’ve just purchased Letters from Hollywood: Inside the Private World of Classic American Moviemaking by Rocky Lang based on the review in the LA Times last weekend. I haven’t read it yet, though, as I intend to give it to either my husband or father as a Christmas gift. Since it is understood that any book my parents and I give each other must ultimately be loaned back to the gifter, I’ll let you know how it is. Or maybe I will sneak into Santa’s sack before Christmas and take a peek.

Thanks for reading our affiliate post. Please suggest any recommendations of your own or start a discussion in the comments, I’ll check in.

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66 Responses to “Some book suggestions to carry you into fall including ‘Homegoing’ and ‘Born a Crime’”

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  1. Lady Baden-Baden says:

    LOVE THIS!!
    Thank you for this post – please keep book recommendations coming

    ETA: I read a lot, mostly classics, so I’m good with more literary stuff, but I’d be grateful for any guilty pleasure pointers. I’m thinking WELL-WRITTEN, DECENT, sexy love stories (i.e. NO Fifty Shades crap) or fun, light stuff that I can dip into when I’m low. Thanks!

    • Anners says:

      I really enjoyed the Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. It’s a retelling of the life of Achilles through his companion, Patroclus. Definitely had some sexy bits and I felt all the emotions.

      For light reading I enjoyed the Ice Hunt by James Rollins. His books get a little samey after awhile, but this was the first of his I read and it was perfect for night shifts – fast paced, action and adventure, plausible science fiction bits that made my hair stand on end, and a little bit of a love story.

      Man, I love the idea of sharing good books and authors on here!

      • Lady Baden-Baden says:

        Thanks @Anners – will look those up

      • joanne says:

        Try some Cathy Kelly or Erica James. I love their writing. Also, Emma Hannigan. I forgot to say anything by Kristen Hannah, especially The Nightingale.

      • Becks1 says:

        I have the Nightingale on the wait list at the library, cant wait to read it! I loved the Great Alone.

        For fluff, I like Kristin Higgans too. Her books are formulaic and predictable (much like a Nora Roberts book), but if you want something mindless and easy, they’re fun and quick reads.

      • Malachite says:

        @anners I loved Song of Achilles so much too. Have you read Miller’s Circe? If not, I highly recommend. Same genre of retelling Greek myth and I love that it is from Circe’s view (much maligned in Greek myth as a witch.)

    • Becks1 says:

      @anners – did you like Circe? I liked the premise of it but by about halfway through was a little bored. But it was an interesting way of retelling ancient stories.

      • Anners says:

        @becks1 haven’t read Circe yet – I’m still on the wait list at my library. I’m sad to hear it isn’t that great, because I was surprised by how much Song of Achilles touched me. I loved her writing and was like a school kid reading under the covers waaaayyyy past my bedtime to finish it.

      • Becks1 says:

        Anners, you might really like it! I just kind of felt like it didn’t have a true plot, IDK. But the writing was good and I liked the overall concept.

      • hnmmom says:

        I adored both Song of Achilles and Circe.

    • BeanieBean says:

      Not ashamed to say the Sophie Kinsella books are a lot of fun (Shopaholic series). I just finished ‘I Owe You One’ & liked it a lot.

      • Hecate says:

        I loved these too but they stressed me out because I saw a little too much of myself there.

      • deezee says:

        Twenties Girl, My Not So Perfect Life, and Remember Me are her best non-Shopoholic books. They’re great light reads.

      • Anners says:

        Also enjoyed Can you Keep a Secret and the Undomestic Goddess (both Sophie Kinsella). The Shopoholic series stressed me out and Becky made me irrationally angry – I always wanted to slap her.

    • Hecate says:

      I love the classics. Maybe we should do a classics post? Years ago I realized I hadn’t read many of them because I knew the stories from word-of-mouth so I set out to read at least one classic a year. There is a reason they keep living on.

      As for pleasure stuff (as Tom Hiddleston said, “What’s my guilty pleasure? The thing is, I never feel guilty about pleasures”), are you talking romance or erotica? I don’t read much romance but my favorite bookstore, The Ripped Bodice in Culver City are romance experts and I enjoy any excuse to go there. I can get some ideas for you. You can also find/follow them on Twitter, they are always posting new ideas: @TheRippedBodice

      I do love erotica so ab-so-lute-ly I’ll get that for you.

      • Lady Baden-Baden says:

        Yes a classics post! I’m lucky that my mother is the most well-read person i know and has a big house groaning with books – I “borrow” (as in: sometimes they ‘accidentally’ join my own collection..) most of my stuff from her. I often go back to EM Forster. Have just discovered Barbara Comyns, who’s a hoot (but not sure if she was ever read widely outside of England?) and picked up my first (I know – shameful!) Colette last weekend.

        But Erotica – yes please! Thank you!

      • Becks1 says:

        I would like a classics post! I think they are really fun to discuss now that I’m out of school and don’t “have” to read them.

      • BeanieBean says:

        I still have my list of 100 classics somewhere that I was checking off, one by one. I remember being surprised to find myself actually enjoying Moby Dick–although that might be because I ‘read’ it as an audiobook (the guy reading was terrific). That’s one of those books I appreciated much more as an adult than as a teen/twenty-something. A Tale of Two Cities was another such book. That opening sentence was too much for my high school self, but as an adult–wow, I was crying about five pages from the end because I could see what was going to happen. Just loved that book.

  2. Megs says:

    I’m finally reading Bad Blood, about Theranos/Elizabeth Holmes and enjoying it immensely, please continue book recommendations as I’m always looking for my next read!

  3. Stormyshay says:

    I need to pick up reading again. I just spent the last 2.5 years in grad school, so no time for reading unless it was case studies or research.

    I think celebitchy should do a book club discussion each month. Pick a book on some contemporary issue and then have a discussion about it. I think this site has so many intelligent and thoughtful readers. I have been educated on so many important issues, such as race, gender, etc.

    • Rhys says:

      I fully support the Book Club idea.

      For my part, I will recommend Tove Jansson “The True Deceiver” – an excellent novel!

    • Hecate says:

      Hi, I’m finally here – West Coast hours, dontchaknow. CB had a book club a while back. It was a lot of work but got very little interest. Not sure why. We’ve talked about trying to restart it but we need to find another format. Also, it has to be during a slow season, like far away from Awards Season and Met Gala. But it’s always on the whiteboard, I promise.

      • stormyshay says:

        Well keep the book recommendation posts coming. I plan on adding several from the comments section of this post to my to read list.

  4. Becks1 says:

    Homegoing was amazing. So incredible. Everyone should definitely read it!

    I liked the Aviator’s Wife a lot. I didn’t know that much about Charles Lindbergh so it was interesting to get a different take on him than the American hero. She also wrote Alice I have Been about the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland, and that was interesting too. I didn’t love it, because it made me look at the Alice books so differently, but I found it interesting.

    I’m currently reading the Threat by Andrew McCabe but its hard to read. Its denser than I had expected, and very detail oriented, but its also very depressing and makes me really worried about the state of things, so its been slow going.

    • BeanieBean says:

      I can’t read depressing things right now, only light & fun. Same with TV shows, only light & fun, which is why I usually have the Food Channel, HGTV, or Bravo on.

      • Becks1 says:

        @beanie – same. Its why I’m dragging on The Threat. I need to find some fluffy YA fantasy series to get me back into reading lol (that’s my brain candy.)

      • Hecate says:

        I understand what you mean. I frequently need fluff too. I’ll find some for the next rec post.

  5. GreenBunny says:

    I love book recommendations, I’m always looking for my next read. I just read Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. It’s based on a fictional band from the 70′s, but the book is told as an oral history. It was so good and you really thought it was based on a real band. Definitely one of my favorite books ever. I also read Normal People by Sally Rooney. The writing style was interesting, but not my favorite book. Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead was really good, as was his other book The Underground Railroad. And now I’m on Where the Crawdads Sing and Delia Owens describes everything so beautifully. It’s hard to put down.

    • Anners says:

      I *loved* Where the Crawdads Sing – was so beautifully poignant. It reminded me a little bit of Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell (I was obsessed by that book in high school…please don’t analyze me lol)

  6. hnmmom says:

    YAY!!! I have been hoping for a book recommendation post. I am working very hard to get back to reading. I have quite a few friends who listened to the Trevor Noah book “Born a Crime” as an audiobook and recommend it more b/c Noah reads it himself.

    Here are the books I have read over the last few months I would recommend: Daisy Jones and the Six by by Reid; The Lost Man by Harper; The Silent Patient by Michaelides; Beartown by Bachman (HIGHLY recommend this one); The Last Romantics by Conklin.

    Here’s my review of Beartown, I think a lot of CB readers would like this book: Beautifully written, gripping and timely story about a violent act at a teen party that tears a town apart. Beartown is a small, forgotten town on the cusp of rediscovery through their junior boy’s hockey team. Every resident has a stake in the outcome of the semi-final match and many of them are willing to sacrifice everything for the win. When one brave person dares to speak out, the ripple effects rock the community. The author addresses issues relating to toxic masculinity, double standards, how society treats female victims, how successful white men are believed over other voices, class issues, race issues, etc. Even though the story takes place in Sweden, these are global concerns we are grappling over as human kind.

    • Esmom says:

      Oh wow, thanks for the Beartown review. I admit I haven’t picked it up because I felt like two of his books that I’ve read (A Man Called Ove and Britt-Marie Was Here) were so similar, albeit lovely, that I didn’t need a third iteration. This doesn’t sound like a retread at all. And honestly a book set anywhere but in the currently nightmarish U.S. sounds like a great escape.

      I’ve also worked hard to get back into reading. I’d struggled badly after Trump’s election but this year I finally seem to have gotten my groove back and am able to concentrate better. Cheers! :)

      *signs off to reserve Beartown at my library*

    • Becks1 says:

      I liked Beartown a lot, but it was hard to read at point

      @Esmom – you may like “My Grandmother Asked me to tell you she’s sorry” (I think that’s the title.) its the precursor to Britt-Marie Was Here. That was really good as well.

      I loathed Daisy Jones and the Six.

    • BeanieBean says:

      Oh, Beartown was great. That was the one I read after Britt-Marie Was Here. I’ve bought all the rest of his books but am going slowly on them, because I want to savor them.

    • Hecate says:

      I’ve not heard of Beartown but clearly I need it on my list – thanks!

      ETA – oh, this is the Ove author’s book. My parents have this, my mother adored it. I’ll get it from them next time I visit.

  7. Esmom says:

    Thanks so much for this lovely post! I also prefer to read fiction but my book club reads a few non-fiction books a year, which helps me branch out. This year we’ve read Bad Blood and Educated and had great discussions about both. Born a Crime has been on my list, I think I will recommend that my group read it.

    I just read a book that I know will stick with me…The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai. It’s mostly set in the 80s in Chicago and paints an extremely vivid, heartbreaking picture of the AIDS crisis.I actually lived in the exact neighborhood at the exact time period described, so that made it extra compelling to me but the story and characters really draw you in. There’s another storyline set in the present day that’s also intriguing.

    I read an interview with the author and she said she didn’t set out to write a book on the AIDS crisis but as she did research on the time and place she found so much information that outraged her that she decided to expand the story so she could honor those who suffered through that frightening, devastating era while being dismissed and marginalized by the federal government.

    Gah, now I’m getting upset again. A lighter, lovely book that I also recently loved was A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. I look forward to more posts like these!

  8. Roserose says:

    Thank you so much for doing a book post. I love these and really value your and the commenters recommendations.

    My recommendation is the Broken Earth trilogy by N. K. Jamison. The first book is The Fifth Season. I won’t say too much other than just, go read it. It’s really really good and well worth the time x

  9. L84Tea says:

    I just read “Ask Again, Yes” last week and it was amazing. I was actually sad when it was over.

  10. Rapunzel says:

    I just got Ta-Nehisi Coates’ The Water Dancer to read. Can’t wait!

    • Lolamd says:

      Please do a review on that! It is on my list. Right now am reading Yes Please by Amy Poehler.

    • Hecate says:

      Yes, please let me know what you think. I have a on/off thing with his work, so I’ve held off on getting his book but many people love it.

  11. Sof says:

    I love getting book recommendations, currently I’m trying to get away from classics but somehow managed to get stuck between memoirs and short stories.
    At the moment I’m reading “Cornelia frente al espejo” by Silvina Ocampo, however I don’t know if there is an English translation.
    I recommend Antarctica and Walk the Blue Fields, both by Claire Keegan. I discovered her when I realized I was reading mostly male authors, one of those enlightening moments we all had at one point, I’m sure.

  12. sunny says:

    These are good recs! It is funny, I just bought the audiobook for “Born a Crime” this week. I am going on vacation in a few weeks and stocking up on books and audiobooks,

    Loved Homegoing so so much! Read it when it first came out and just recently leant it to 2 work colleagues who both loved it. Have you read any Jessmyn Ward? She is probably one of my favourite writers right now and her last novel “Sing Unburied Sing” was sublime.

    • Esmom says:

      I haven’t read Sing Unburied Sing but Salvage the Bones was so good. Thanks for reminding me about Jessmyn Ward.

      Which reminds me of another book that really moved me, There There by Tommy Orange, a vivid portrayal of the lives and struggles of a number of Native Americans living mostly in Oakland.

    • Hecate says:

      Sing Unburied Sing is on my GoodReads list. I very much want to read it.

      Also, I’ll just throw this here, for lack of a better place: I need Latinx authors to read. I’m trying to diversify my library list and was shocked at how few Lantinx I’ve read.

      • hnmmom says:

        Hecate, you mentioned that you like supernatural books. Try the author Carlos Ruiz Zafon. He wrote a series of books (called The Cemetery of the Forgotten Books), start with “Shadow of the Wind”, then “The Angels’ Game”. Set in Barcelona, they are kind of gothic-ish, have some supernatural qualities. I enjoyed all of them.

      • Hecate says:

        Thanks! I’ll check him out

      • Anners says:

        I read some Isabel Allende. I don’t think she was my favourite (was a long time ago – maybe early 2000′s) but some of the stories stuck with me. I also really enjoyed 100 Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.I took a course on Spanish supernatural literature (coolest class for sure), and the two books that I kept were the Bosque Animado (Enchanted Forest) by Wenceslao Fernandez Florez and Leyendas (Legends) by Gustavo Becquer. If you like the supernatural, might be fun places to start. (these are suggestions from an anglo-canadian. I’d also be pleased to get more current Latinx suggestions)

      • Sof says:

        The only contemporary Latinx author I can think of is Samanta Schweblin. Her books have been on my TBR list for quite some time, particularly Fever Dream.
        Then there are the obvious ones: Cortazar, Borges, Bioy Casares and Silvina Ocampo. I mentioned her above as I’m currently reading her short stories, she is one of the authors I’ve always heard of her but never got round to read. The themes she chose to write about took me surprise, a lot of her stories have suicidal protagonists.

  13. shells_bells says:

    I love reading and would totally be up for a Celebitchy book club.
    A couple of recommendations for other readers: I use the Goodreads app to track the books I’ve read and want to read. It keeps me from picking up the same book twice (yes, I’ve done that). You can also set a “reading goal” for the year and it tracks your progress for you. I also recently signed up for “Book of the Month” it’s $14.99 a month and you get to choose 1 book from 5 (I think) choices and they ship it for free. You can also add additional books for $9.99. It’s been a good way for me to step out of my comfort zone.

    • BeanieBean says:

      That’s me, too. Goodreads have been helpful in keeping track. I live in an isolated area, but travel a lot, so wherever I go if I find a bookstore, I go in. And if I go in, I always come out with books. I have an entire basket full of books to read, and sometimes I don’t get to them as fast as I’d like and occasionally will buy a book I’ve already bought but just haven’t read yet. Arghh!!

  14. Spicecake38 says:

    Thanks very much for this post,I’m going to be looking into some of these books to read as I’m an avid reader,and I would love a CB book club too!
    I’m stuck right now because have you ever read a book you love so much you just can’t quite get into another…?That is my current mind set.
    I would greatly recommend *Where the Crawdads Sing*by Delia Owens. I finished it about 6 weeks ago and I also found out the Reese Witherspoon is producing the movie,I think out next year.Soo good,highly recommend if anyone is interested.It just spoke to me on different levels and I hope the movie will do it justice.
    My husband also read it and he’s like-I can’t read anything else right now because my brain is still on that ending..

  15. BeanieBean says:

    Yay! I scrolled through today’s selections of topics & saw this one so clicked on it first! Got my new book based on the first paragraph. I’m obsessed with these ladies, this time period, and really anything Truman Capote.

  16. Moneypenny424 says:

    Absolutely loved Homegoing and Swans, so will check out these other recommendations!

  17. Hello says:

    Thank you, thank you for this post! And for all the additional recommendations in the comments – this is why I love this site ❤️
    For the monster lovers out there, The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher is loads of fun.

  18. CatJ says:

    I recommend “Where the Crawdads Sing” to everyone. It is a beautifully written book that will stay with you. One of the few that I would re-read.
    I am currently in the middle of “City of Girls” by
    Elizabeth Gilbert. Not deep, but, lots of fun. It’s written from the point of view of an old lady, writing a letter to a younger gal, describing New York in the 40′s, and her misadventures.

    • Spicecake38 says:

      Said this just a few comments above!I specifically came back to see if anyone commented to me or elsewhere about it,so glad I scrolled down and found your comment.It is my new favorite and I can’t read another book because my brain is locked,like just still so stuck on that book and that ending…Awww just loved it after being shocked.
      I read that Reese Witherspoon is producing it as a movie,I hope this will happen.
      Agree that it’s re- readable and that’s not always common in fiction books today.So glad someone else enjoyed it as much as I did!

    • Spicecake38 says:

      I think I also read City of Girls- didn’t even pay attention to that title in your comment-it was good too IIRC,I read so many books from that time period I sometimes can’t keep one book straight from the other 😂😉

  19. Nancito says:

    Love the idea of book suggestions.

  20. EviesMom says:

    I love this post! I used to read all the time but between three kids, 2 dogs, full time work & husband I have literally lost the plot.

    But I’m slowly getting back into the reading mode. I have ‘Inheritance’ on my side table. It’s non fiction but supposed to be very good! I shall report back! In about two months when I’m done. 🤣

  21. deezee says:

    I love book recommendations. Always great to add to my ever-growing TBR pile.
    My favourite auther right now is VE Schwab. Her books are a great read.

  22. Cat says:

    I loved Daisy Jones and The Six, and Taylor Jenkins Reid’s previous novel, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I also loved and read and laughed with Taffy Brodesser Akner’s debut novel Fleishman is in trouble. For light, sexy funny romances, Jasmine Guillory’s The Wedding Date, The Proposal and The Wedding Party are great. She has a new novel coming out next week, Royal Holiday. I also read Sally Rooney’s Normal People but I didn’t like it as much.

  23. Nicegirl says:

    Yes, thank you for these recommendations!

    Right now I’m reading The Education of Brett Kavanaugh, by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, as well as Shanghai Girls, by Lisa See.

    One of my favorite books is Snow 🌸 Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See.

  24. Victoria says:

    I’ve been using NPR’s book lists of the year, my favorite from that was Celeste Ng’s : Things Lost in the Fire. Great read and it brings you 90s nostalgia

    I also read “There, There a novel” by Tommy Orange – it’s about Native Americans living in the hood of Oakland and the consequences of drugs and alcohol

    Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I loved this book and am anticipating HBOs miniseries

    Fates and Furies – Lauren Groff – the breakdown of a marriage told by husband and part 2 is the wife

  25. Becks1 says:

    OK I just went and checked my goodreads to see what else I’ve read recently and liked. (It’s telling me I’m 16 books behind schedule for my reading goal, whoops, lol.)

    Prisoner by Jason Rezaian – this was really hard to read, but good. It’s about a journalist taking prisoner in Iran. If you like podcasts, there’s an episode of Pod Save The World with Jason as a guest talking with Ben Rhodes, who was working behind the scenes to get him out.
    https://amzn.to/2nuAhoI

    Map of Salt and Stars – hard to read, but not in the same way Prisoner was. Fascinating and interesting way to tell the story of refugees.
    https://amzn.to/2noN24r

    I also really enjoyed The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams, definitely lighter than the other two.

  26. Jaded says:

    I loved The Swans of Fifth Avenue! I just finished reading Washington Black by Essie Edugyan – she’s a Canadian novelist and lives here in Victoria, Vancouver Island. She won the Giller Prize for both Half-Blood Blues and Washington Black and I absolutely loved them both. Here’s a couple of reviews of both books:

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/jun/24/half-blood-blues-esi-edugyan-review

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/aug/21/washington-black-by-esi-edugyan-review-arifa-akbar