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From award-winning author Asali Solomon, The Days of Afrekete is a tender, surprising novel of two women at midlife who rediscover themselves--and perhaps each other, inspired by Mrs. Dalloway, Sula, and Audre Lorde's Zami Liselle Belmont is having a dinner party. It seems a strange occasion--her husband, Winn, has lost his bid for the state legislature--but what better way From award-winning author Asali Solomon, The Days of Afrekete is a tender, surprising novel of two women at midlife who rediscover themselves--and perhaps each other, inspired by Mrs. Dalloway, Sula, and Audre Lorde's Zami Liselle Belmont is having a dinner party. It seems a strange occasion--her husband, Winn, has lost his bid for the state legislature--but what better way to thank key supporters than a feast? Liselle was never sure about her husband becoming a politician, never sure about the limelight, never sure about the life of fundraising and stump speeches. Then an FBI agent calls to warn her that Winn might be facing corruption charges. An avalanche of questions tumbles around her: Is it possible he's guilty? Who are they to each other; who have they become? How much of herself has she lost--and was it worth it? And just this minute, how will she make it through this dinner party? Across town, Selena Octave is making her way through the same day, the same way she always does--one foot in front of the other, keeping quiet and focused, trying not to see the terrors all around her. Homelessness, starving children, the very living horrors of history that made America possible: these and other thoughts have made it difficult for her to live an easy life. The only time she was ever really happy was with Liselle, back in college. But they've lost touch, so much so that when they ran into each other at a drugstore just after Obama was elected president, they barely spoke. But as the day wears on, memories of Liselle begin to shift Selena's path. Inspired by Mrs. Dalloway and Sula, as well as Audre Lorde's Zami, Asali Solomon's The Days of Afrekete is a deft, expertly layered, naturally funny, and deeply human examination of two women coming back to themselves at midlife. It is a watchful celebration of our choices and where they take us, the people who change us, and how we can reimagine ourselves even when our lives seem set.


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From award-winning author Asali Solomon, The Days of Afrekete is a tender, surprising novel of two women at midlife who rediscover themselves--and perhaps each other, inspired by Mrs. Dalloway, Sula, and Audre Lorde's Zami Liselle Belmont is having a dinner party. It seems a strange occasion--her husband, Winn, has lost his bid for the state legislature--but what better way From award-winning author Asali Solomon, The Days of Afrekete is a tender, surprising novel of two women at midlife who rediscover themselves--and perhaps each other, inspired by Mrs. Dalloway, Sula, and Audre Lorde's Zami Liselle Belmont is having a dinner party. It seems a strange occasion--her husband, Winn, has lost his bid for the state legislature--but what better way to thank key supporters than a feast? Liselle was never sure about her husband becoming a politician, never sure about the limelight, never sure about the life of fundraising and stump speeches. Then an FBI agent calls to warn her that Winn might be facing corruption charges. An avalanche of questions tumbles around her: Is it possible he's guilty? Who are they to each other; who have they become? How much of herself has she lost--and was it worth it? And just this minute, how will she make it through this dinner party? Across town, Selena Octave is making her way through the same day, the same way she always does--one foot in front of the other, keeping quiet and focused, trying not to see the terrors all around her. Homelessness, starving children, the very living horrors of history that made America possible: these and other thoughts have made it difficult for her to live an easy life. The only time she was ever really happy was with Liselle, back in college. But they've lost touch, so much so that when they ran into each other at a drugstore just after Obama was elected president, they barely spoke. But as the day wears on, memories of Liselle begin to shift Selena's path. Inspired by Mrs. Dalloway and Sula, as well as Audre Lorde's Zami, Asali Solomon's The Days of Afrekete is a deft, expertly layered, naturally funny, and deeply human examination of two women coming back to themselves at midlife. It is a watchful celebration of our choices and where they take us, the people who change us, and how we can reimagine ourselves even when our lives seem set.

30 review for The Days of Afrekete

  1. 4 out of 5

    luce

    / / / Read more reviews on my blog / / / “There was so much lying all the time, particularly when you got together with people who were not Black. Bland observations about about schools, neighborhoods, and the words “kids” and “safe” and “family” tried to cover up a landscape of volcanos oozing with blood, pus, and shit.” What drew my attention to The Days of Afrekete was the comparison to Sula, a novel that, even years after reading it, I still think about. Alas, The Days of Afrekete is not quite / / / Read more reviews on my blog / / / “There was so much lying all the time, particularly when you got together with people who were not Black. Bland observations about about schools, neighborhoods, and the words “kids” and “safe” and “family” tried to cover up a landscape of volcanos oozing with blood, pus, and shit.” What drew my attention to The Days of Afrekete was the comparison to Sula, a novel that, even years after reading it, I still think about. Alas, The Days of Afrekete is not quite in the same league as Morrison's novel. Structure and story-wise The Days of Afrekete shares far more, if not too much, in common with Elif Shafak's Three Daughters of Eve. Like Shafak's novel The Days of Afrekete alternates between scenes set during the course of a dinner party and scenes exploring our main character's past, focusing in particular on her college experience. Both works are also characterized by an ironic tone, poking fun at the pretences of the upper/middle classes and highlighting just how hypocritical the characters they are writing of are. Alas, even if I wasn't a huge fan of Shafak's novel I still preferred her brand of satire to Asali Solomon's one. Liselle Belmont, our novel's central character, is enjoying a life of relative wealth. She's married to and has a son with Winn, a white man whose political career has just taken a turn for the worst. An FBI agent has recently reached out to Liselle and implied that he has done something shady and may be prosecuted. Winn, seeming to be unaware that the FBI is onto him, decides to invite some of his friends/supporters over for dinner. The narrative shows how adjusted Liselle has become to this lifestyle. She is incapable and or unwilling to pronounce correctly the name of her employee, Xochitl, who does things like welcoming the guests, serving the food, and cleaning after them. We also learn that although she had the opportunity to help Jimena, Xochit's mother who also works for her, she chooses not to. As this awkward dinner unfolds, the narrative takes us back to Liselle's college years. At college she started dating women but soon found herself frustrated by the almost-exclusively white dating pool. She repeatedly promises herself that she will stop sleeping or entertaining in relationships with white girls. She then meets Selena, one of the few other Black students, and the two seem to be instantly drawn to each other. Their relationship doesn't end smoothly as Liselle has a rather crappy attitude and Selena is struggling with her mental health. We later learn of how Liselle met and started dating Winn. The story portrays Winn and his guests in a rather unfavourable light, but it does so in a way that reduces them to rather one-dimensional caricatures. Lisette was mean, uncharitable, and selfish. Selena's character, especially her illness, was a tad problematic. She 'feels' things too much, so when she reads or sees stories about murder, slavery, cruelty, she is unable to distance herself from those events. Over the course of her adulthood, she is in and out of psychiatric wards and has only in recent times begun to lead a more 'adjusted' life. While I did find the narrative amusing now and again, I felt nothing for Lisette or the other characters. It wasn’t necessarily because they were unlikable. After all, I just read and loved White Ivy, a novel that seems entirely populated by flawed, if not downright terrible, people. But the characters in The Days of Afrekete are just not as nuanced or compelling as the ones from White Ivy. Solomon's examination of class and privilege too struck me as somewhat banal compared to Susie Yang's one in White Ivy. Sula does get a mention in this novel and the narrative does focus on the supposedly complex relationship between two Black women but other than that this novel is galaxies away from Morrison's one. Lisette and Selena's relationship feels rushed, so we never gain a picture of how they are together or what they feel for each other. Yet, during the dinner Lisette keeps thinking about her, making it sound as if she was 'the one' for her...to me it seemed that she never really liked Winn and that she only married him because of 'reasons'. Knowing that the guy is about to be arrested she is like 'well he sucks' and for 'reasons' she misses Selena. Even if I were to judge this book on its own merit (without comparing it unfavourably to Sula, White Ivy, and Shafak's novel) I don't have many good things to say about it. As I wrote above, it was occasionally funny. We get on-point descriptions like: "He had the look of someone who had aged out of playing the rich jerk in an eighties teen movie". But the characters were severely lacking in depth. Liselle's story was boring, I didn't really feel particularly sympathetic towards her, and I did not really care about the 'drama' with Winn or their awful dinner party. We only get Selena's side of things towards the end of the story and by then I was ready to be done with this book. The way Liselle's sexuality is portrayed frustrated me. She 'was' a lesbian but she's no longer one now because she is with Winn. I also didn't like the flashbacks that show how Winn pursued her even when he knew she was gay. And instead of turning him down, she decides to roll with it? I just didn't believe that she cared for him so I had a really hard time understanding why she marries this bland guy. Also, why are the only two sexualities in this novel 'gay' or 'straight'? Sexuality is not binary and I always find it irritating to come across stories in which a character had a 'gay' phase or 'used' to be gay. Being queer, bisexual, or pansexual is apparently not an option in these novels. I wouldn't necessarily not recommend this novel as I recognise that some may find Liselle less irritating than I did. Just don't let that Sula comparison fool you. ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    I didn’t enjoy this and kept reading only because it was so short. I regret that I didn’t stop when I first had the impulse to do so. Liselle was so cold, self-absorbed and unpleasant I couldn’t think of any plausible reason why Winn would have married her. He will regret it. I don’t really want to think about this book enough to write a review. It definitely was not for me. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mocha Girl

    The host of a dinner party, Liselle, reminiscences about a very brief collegiate affair with Selena and pines for those blissful but emotionally packed days with the one she considers her true love. The majority of the book is centered on Liselle’s preparation and suffering through this rather dismal party to address her husband’s lost political campaign with a few of his key (and very eccentric) donors and supporters. This is a character-driven novel and unfortunately, it did not work for me. I The host of a dinner party, Liselle, reminiscences about a very brief collegiate affair with Selena and pines for those blissful but emotionally packed days with the one she considers her true love. The majority of the book is centered on Liselle’s preparation and suffering through this rather dismal party to address her husband’s lost political campaign with a few of his key (and very eccentric) donors and supporters. This is a character-driven novel and unfortunately, it did not work for me. I was not captivated by the plot/story or interested in the characters -- it was one in which I kept reading only to get through the book to write a fair review. Sadly, Liselle’s choices and “trials” just weren’t compelling enough for me to become vested in her story. Selena seemed a tad bit more interesting, but the story was a bit lopsided in that more time was spent with Liselle early in the novel. Selena’s story came much later and by then I was ready for the novel to end. Perhaps others will enjoy or appreciate this offering more than I did. It’s not a “bad” story, it just wasn’t for me. Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mitch Loflin

    This book has everything I need. There's a claustrophobic gay college drama, a tense dinner party against a backdrop of possible crime, thoughtful introspection, complicated romantic entanglements, you name it. There's no fat here to trim, it's always so good. That said I can also imagine loving a version of this that's like 400 pages plus, but it's pretty much perfect as is. Just a wonderful wonderful book. This book has everything I need. There's a claustrophobic gay college drama, a tense dinner party against a backdrop of possible crime, thoughtful introspection, complicated romantic entanglements, you name it. There's no fat here to trim, it's always so good. That said I can also imagine loving a version of this that's like 400 pages plus, but it's pretty much perfect as is. Just a wonderful wonderful book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bandit

    Since race is such a popular subject these days and there are so many books about it, it has become abundantly clear that there is a right and wrong way to write about race. The Days of Afrekete gets it exactly right. It features racial (and sexual and socioeconomic and class and income) diversity and definitely has a message, but never lets it overpower the actual story. But first and foremost, for me this was a story about choices. We meet the protagonist, Liselle, at a party, thrown for a no Since race is such a popular subject these days and there are so many books about it, it has become abundantly clear that there is a right and wrong way to write about race. The Days of Afrekete gets it exactly right. It features racial (and sexual and socioeconomic and class and income) diversity and definitely has a message, but never lets it overpower the actual story. But first and foremost, for me this was a story about choices. We meet the protagonist, Liselle, at a party, thrown for a not so happy occasion of her spouse’s thwarted political ambitions, the situation that is compounded by the fact that he may also be under an FBI investigation. The progressive diverse cast of supporting characters are saying all the right things, but Liselle’s mind is drifting back in time, to her college years, to the woman she loved, to the strange turns her life has taken to bring her to the now she’s in. Back in her college days Liselle was a player, sleeping her way through attractive female coeds, but the one that really got her was Selena. Their brief affair left an indelible mark on Liselle’s soul. It might have been a personal high, after which life has slowly and strangely tumbled in unpredictable directions, ending up married to a man, a white man, no less. And then the novel pivots to show you what became of Selena in the intervening years. So really, it covers a lot for being just over 200 pages. And where it excels is at just showing how different life turns out from what one might have hoped or dreamed about and how far you can go from love to find yourself. And then, of course, there’s the racial commentary, done cleverly and subtly. Because for all the difference it implies, it is only one of the many factors that go into relationships. Plus the author makes it work every which way, from Liselle’s biracial marriage to Liselle’s interactions with her Latina maid, it’s all in the nuances and it’s very well done. I found the Liselle/Selena romance/connection to be somewhat underdone, it seemed abrupt and undeveloped for something that meant so much to both of them. But overall enjoyed reading it, the writing was really good, first rate character development too, it played like a well done A list cast indie drama. Lus it’s always nice when an author manages to tell a story succinctly. And to honor that, this review is getting wrapped up, so…Recommended. Thanks Netgalley. This and more at https://advancetheplot.weebly.com/

  6. 5 out of 5

    Yasmin

    On a positive note, this book was a quick read. However, this is probably one of the weirdest book that I’ve read this year. I really wanted to like it but the plot seemed to meander and lack depth. I felt like i was on a plane to nowhere and characters were added just because. And the ending was abrupt and a serious WTF for me. Probably because i was eager to finish and somewhere along the way I must have missed some important details. Nevertheless, it wasn’t important enough for me to rewind t On a positive note, this book was a quick read. However, this is probably one of the weirdest book that I’ve read this year. I really wanted to like it but the plot seemed to meander and lack depth. I felt like i was on a plane to nowhere and characters were added just because. And the ending was abrupt and a serious WTF for me. Probably because i was eager to finish and somewhere along the way I must have missed some important details. Nevertheless, it wasn’t important enough for me to rewind to listen more closely.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Karen Foster

    With echos of Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, this short novel focuses mostly on a single day in a woman’s life, with musings of the past, of experiences that got her to that place. As Liselle prepares for a stuffy dinner party on the evening that her husband’s political ambitions have been dashed and an FBI corruption investigation are underway, she looks back at a significant affair with Selena, a woman from her past. Steeped in sharp observations on race, sexuality and politics, it’s a well written st With echos of Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, this short novel focuses mostly on a single day in a woman’s life, with musings of the past, of experiences that got her to that place. As Liselle prepares for a stuffy dinner party on the evening that her husband’s political ambitions have been dashed and an FBI corruption investigation are underway, she looks back at a significant affair with Selena, a woman from her past. Steeped in sharp observations on race, sexuality and politics, it’s a well written story, let down by its rather abrupt ending.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Andre

    Hmmmm. This was a strange little book. Quite offbeat in its telling and unremarkable as a story. Not much of a plot, just seems to be saying, this is my journey and this is her journey. We were together, as a romantic couple in College and this is how our life turned out. Yep! I've simplified the endeavor but that is the gist of the book. The writing is good enough to justify the continued eyeball moving, but there isn't any depth to the characters, at least not enough to create care, empathy or Hmmmm. This was a strange little book. Quite offbeat in its telling and unremarkable as a story. Not much of a plot, just seems to be saying, this is my journey and this is her journey. We were together, as a romantic couple in College and this is how our life turned out. Yep! I've simplified the endeavor but that is the gist of the book. The writing is good enough to justify the continued eyeball moving, but there isn't any depth to the characters, at least not enough to create care, empathy or really, any emotion. A love story perhaps, is deep in the rubble of a plot. A lackluster political thriller may be among the ruins. The book is very short, just clearing novella status, and it ended with a thud, thankfully so. Because clearly there was no were else this story could go. The strangeness of this review is intentional, designed to mirror the unusualness of this work.

  9. 4 out of 5

    df parizeau

    I really enjoyed the majority of this book. The plot was juicy enough to keep me intrigued until the end, which is something I often find missing in similar books. I really needed this after two straight DNFs on novels. I'm usually not a fan when publisher's use classics to comp their books--it immediately puts an onus on the reader to temper their expectations. In this case however, the Mrs. Dalloway comparison is quite apt. The obvious correlation to a dinner party aside, the manner in which Sol I really enjoyed the majority of this book. The plot was juicy enough to keep me intrigued until the end, which is something I often find missing in similar books. I really needed this after two straight DNFs on novels. I'm usually not a fan when publisher's use classics to comp their books--it immediately puts an onus on the reader to temper their expectations. In this case however, the Mrs. Dalloway comparison is quite apt. The obvious correlation to a dinner party aside, the manner in which Solomon shifts time to the story's whims is virtuoso. It builds such a rich portrait of who Liselle is and how she came to become that person. Like others, I do think Selena's story feels a bit tacked on at the end, but I'm also apt to think that this underscores the callbacks to Lorde and the titular Afrekete. I originally gave this book a 3, but after writing these thoughts, I'm bumping it up to a 4. The ending felt a bit lacking, but overall this is a fantastic read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Gulshan B.

    The story starts off on an interesting premise, in fact almost an intriguing premise, but doesn't quite know how to keep that promise, or that pace, for that matter. Following the footsteps of recent chartbusters with similar characterizations, The Days of Afrekete tries hard, but never really too much, to carry the baton of gender and racial awareness, interspersed with social justice, and sprinkled with sexual libertarianism. IMHO, the problem here is not a shortage of ideas, but really a short The story starts off on an interesting premise, in fact almost an intriguing premise, but doesn't quite know how to keep that promise, or that pace, for that matter. Following the footsteps of recent chartbusters with similar characterizations, The Days of Afrekete tries hard, but never really too much, to carry the baton of gender and racial awareness, interspersed with social justice, and sprinkled with sexual libertarianism. IMHO, the problem here is not a shortage of ideas, but really a shortage of strong storyline, to carry such heavy-hitter subjects to the finish line. Liselle and Selena are close friends, one-time lovers, who don't really know what to do with their lives, once they realize they are growing out of their teen years, and later on as they are growing out of their college years. Nothing unusual there, and yet there are glimpses of a searing flame, that becomes visible only intermittently and fleetingly when reading this novel. There are clear instances where the story could have been taken in a direction to become a tinderbox, or to have a blowout, or to at least have a strong confrontation - alas, none of the characters, especially the two somewhat- and sometimes-pretentious leads who seem to not have been given enough leeway to spread their wings and soar. The blurb reference to an FBI angle is never really allowed to flesh out. That, if perhaps let flow out, could have been a good parallel anchor to the social satire that this story had the potential to become. As it is, the political plot elements seem futile, there only to be mocked at, and don't play into the storyline. Clearly, the main storyline is of the two young (and then not-so-young) women, but there too I felt there were not enough anchors to pull them to each other. Sure there are instances and glimpses, but didn't come across as compelling. Overall, a good premise, with reasonably interesting characters, but not enough of a story. Thanks to NetGalley and FSG for providing a digital eARC for this true review.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    I really like this author's book, Disgruntled, so I wanted to read this so much that I actually bought the ebook immediately instead of waiting to get it from the library, something I never do. And I really liked this one, too, although it's a bit slighter and might end a little too abruptly. It takes place during the span of one dinner party, one given by Liselle, the main character. She's a Black woman whose white husband, Winn, has just lost his attempt to primary a state rep, and this party i I really like this author's book, Disgruntled, so I wanted to read this so much that I actually bought the ebook immediately instead of waiting to get it from the library, something I never do. And I really liked this one, too, although it's a bit slighter and might end a little too abruptly. It takes place during the span of one dinner party, one given by Liselle, the main character. She's a Black woman whose white husband, Winn, has just lost his attempt to primary a state rep, and this party is to thank people involved with his campaign, people who worked on it and big donors. Liselle's marriage has been falling apart for a long time, and she's been informed that Winn is about to be indicted for some kind of election corruption. Before the party, she calls a woman she was in love with years ago, Selena and leaves a message. During the party, Liselle doesn't just deal with hosting and party logistics- she also deals with race and class issues involving a desperate person who knocks on the front door, and complicated feelings about the Latina who is hired to help with the party. And she's dealing with her husband, who is SUCH an asshole. And she is remembering Selena- who has her own sadness and trauma to bear, but who is also remembering her. You get flashbacks from their tumultuous college relationship. I really got drawn into this story, and also, it was all full of these pops of pleasure, because this is very much a Philadelphia story, and that's where I'm from. Right in the beginning, she mentions Sonia Sanchez, the famous poet I've met, who LIVES IN THE HOUSE I GREW UP IN in Germantown. There's a mention of Weaver's Way, the co-op my family belonged to. Chicken cheesesteaks from Ishkabibbles on South St.! Disparaging Frank Rizzo. Quaker schools. The Philadelphia-ness went on and on. I will read all of Asali Solomon's books.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Geonn Cannon

    My final verdict is that I liked it. Very good writing, a good story. I felt a little let down by the ending, which wasn’t as satisfying as I’d have liked. But overall it was a really good read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Meike

    Yeeees, more new literature!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Katy

    All I’ll say for now is: I loved this but wanted more.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Leigh Hopkins

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. After reading the last word of The Days of Afrekete, I'm sitting here in my creaky old house in Mt. Airy still beaming and a little breathless. Asali Solomon's storytelling is crisp and full of humor, wonderfully lush and deeply sensitive. I often laughed out loud at her observations about class lines and the human condition: "She assumed he was gay, or if not that, she wondered if he had some kind of debauched and confusing rich white-person sexuality." On a personal level, so much of this stor After reading the last word of The Days of Afrekete, I'm sitting here in my creaky old house in Mt. Airy still beaming and a little breathless. Asali Solomon's storytelling is crisp and full of humor, wonderfully lush and deeply sensitive. I often laughed out loud at her observations about class lines and the human condition: "She assumed he was gay, or if not that, she wondered if he had some kind of debauched and confusing rich white-person sexuality." On a personal level, so much of this story feels like my own. As a queer woman who left a straight marriage, throughout this book, I often relived what it feels like to agree to a life you never really wanted, but feel the need to defend just the same. The book's winding structure is phenomenal! Truly, a literary architectural wonder. There are so many scenes that are so vivid (SPOILER), and in particular, I'm still marveling at Solomon's brilliant choice to "mix" Liselle and Selena's dance scene into the final Stevie Wonder dance scene. On some level, we all know what it means to find yourself standing in the strangeness of your own life, breathlessly waiting for someone to answer the door.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Johanna Markson

    The Days of Afrekete, Asali Solomon Two black women, once friends and lovers in college, now in their late thirties living lives they did not expect, trying to figure out how it all came to be. In this impressive, utterly unexpected, life twisting short novel, Solomon disects a love affair that had so much more impact on two women’s lives than either realized. So much so, that in one soul crushing day for both, the memories of their time together, the friendship and love their shared, is enough The Days of Afrekete, Asali Solomon Two black women, once friends and lovers in college, now in their late thirties living lives they did not expect, trying to figure out how it all came to be. In this impressive, utterly unexpected, life twisting short novel, Solomon disects a love affair that had so much more impact on two women’s lives than either realized. So much so, that in one soul crushing day for both, the memories of their time together, the friendship and love their shared, is enough to get them through an excruciating day in lives neither want to continue. Liselle is married to a white man she's known for a long time, who recently ran for state office and lost. She's been informed by a sexy FBI agent that this husband of hers is soon to be indicted on corruption charges. He is in the dark about that fact and instead has insisted they have a final dinner party for those closest to the campaign who need to be thanked. While preparing for the absurd meal, Liselle reflects on her past, her time as a lesbian in college, and how the now disliked husband convinced her that they could be a good team together. How did she let that happen? And, in this time of great difficulty and challenge, why is she missing her college lover so much? That beautiful, troubled young freshman she met when she was a senior. The relationship didn't last long but it seems to have had a huge impact on both. That very same day Selena is, for yet another time, recovering from in-patient psych treatment and is now step by step, trudging through her days working as a cleaner. Even after graduating and having worked in nonprofit, her life has been complicated by mental distress that constantly plagues her because she sees and feels all the world’s horrors too deeply and overwhelmingly. But always, even at her most troubled, Liselle has been with her as her best memory. Why? What about Selena’s time with Liselle brought her so much peace and safety from the unhappiness in the world? As day turns to night, the dinner party goes off the deep end, and Selena receives a special message from Liselle. Life for both may just get the adjustment, closure, reckoning, sustenance it needs. There is no real answer at the end, but as the wild dinner party comes to a crashing halt, the reader is left hopeful that these two unhappy women may find a way to free themselves of the burdens they carry and the sadness that runs deep within them. Well done, insightful, profound, even humorous about our humanity.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Scarlett Harris

    Evocative with a strong sense of place. Would like to see “the movie version of their courtship that would never be made,” perhaps by “the round, gap-toothed Black woman who looks like everybody’s aunt running multiple scripted television shows with huge budgets”?

  18. 4 out of 5

    Oscreads

    I didn’t love or hate this book. I did enjoyed my time with the story and character tho.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Vincent Sylvestre

    Overall, I enjoyed this! It was a little hard to get into—I didn’t care too much for the “dinner party” scene, to be honest, which took up the first third of the book approximately. Ultimately I think I don’t really care to read about the lives of people in politics, even if it’s written from a critical standpoint. So I was happy when we went from the dinner party to Liselle’s story for a good portion of the book. Then the sudden shift to Selena’s story was a little awkward, in my opinion. Also, Overall, I enjoyed this! It was a little hard to get into—I didn’t care too much for the “dinner party” scene, to be honest, which took up the first third of the book approximately. Ultimately I think I don’t really care to read about the lives of people in politics, even if it’s written from a critical standpoint. So I was happy when we went from the dinner party to Liselle’s story for a good portion of the book. Then the sudden shift to Selena’s story was a little awkward, in my opinion. Also, this is another one of those books where despite reading about a certain character for pages and pages, I feel like I end up not really knowing anything about them as a person. It reads more like a bullet-point list of events that tells me very little about their character, their nature. The fact that the chapters were very short, each one corresponding to an important event in Liselle or Selina’s life or a specific moment during the night of the dinner party, contributed to that effect. Solomon’s writing was really good—and I did truly enjoy “Liselle’s section”, which in fact happened to be most of the book. If we got to know her better, and if the book hadn’t focused as much on the party at the beginning (introducing all of those characters that we wouldn’t see much of in the end), I would have liked this a lot. This is all personal preference, and you should give it a try if the synopsis piques your interest. Thanks to NetGalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for the advance copy of this book. The Days of Afrekete will be published on October 19, 2021.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    It's hard to know what to say about this book. It's an in-depth look at two women who were once everything to each other for a brief period. I quickly came to love Solomon's writing style and some of her sentences are pure gems, especially in the way she describes things and her adept use of adjectives. I loved learning about each character and their fears and hesitations in life. The ending of the book felt very abrupt to me, as if the author just decided, "okay, enough already. I'm done." But, It's hard to know what to say about this book. It's an in-depth look at two women who were once everything to each other for a brief period. I quickly came to love Solomon's writing style and some of her sentences are pure gems, especially in the way she describes things and her adept use of adjectives. I loved learning about each character and their fears and hesitations in life. The ending of the book felt very abrupt to me, as if the author just decided, "okay, enough already. I'm done." But, on the other hand, I'm not sure where she could have taken it from that point. I enjoyed reading it and didn't want it to end. Unusual book worth reading. Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book. I'm rating it 4 stars, but maybe a 3.5 is really where it is at.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    Set in Philadelphia, the new book by Asali Solomon features three main characters (in addition to the city): Liselle - a black woman from Philadelphia who was a lesbian but is married to Winn and they have a son, Patrice. Winn’s white and comes from a very different background (old money in Connecticut). And then there’s Selena. She met Liselle in college and has had perhaps the most challenging life since then. The supporting cast of characters is interesting as well, and one of my favorites wa Set in Philadelphia, the new book by Asali Solomon features three main characters (in addition to the city): Liselle - a black woman from Philadelphia who was a lesbian but is married to Winn and they have a son, Patrice. Winn’s white and comes from a very different background (old money in Connecticut). And then there’s Selena. She met Liselle in college and has had perhaps the most challenging life since then. The supporting cast of characters is interesting as well, and one of my favorites was Verity, Liselle’s mother. As the book opens, Liselle is getting ready to host a dinner party for key donors and staff from her husband’s failed primary campaign to unseat a firmly entrenched incumbent state representative. But she also has a secret - the knowledge that her husband is under investigation by the FBI for something related to the campaign. In trying to make sense of what her life is like now, and how the FBI investigation will impact her, Liselle finds herself going back and forth to her childhood and college years, when her brief but impactful relationship with Selena began in 1994. The characters in the book were wonderful and strengthened as Solomon tackled the different forces that shaped their lives: family, class, racial identity and sexuality. One favorite example illustrating the differences between Winn and Liselle was around a piece of furniture: “The thought of the sideboard tugged at Liselle. Ever since she was a girl and heard someone on one of Verity’s soap operas say “sideboard,” she had wanted one. This piece of furniture had been in Winn’s family since the 1700’s, though the family had come close, several times, to selling it or burning it for firewood.” While I didn’t love the ending, the rest of the book with its strong sense of place, well-developed characters, and interesting story made it a strong read for me. Thanks to Netgalley and Farrar, Straus and Giroux for the opportunity to read The Days of Afrekete in exchange for an honest review.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kier Scrivener

    This is an incredibly interesting novel about a middle aged Black woman throwing a dinner party for the end of the campaign of her white husband. Drawing on Mrs Dalloway, she formed the structure around a present day event that Solomon leads her on pathways through time. To childhood, to college, to her queer experience in college and kinda falling into a 'straight' marriage that her and her husband have never been completely satisfied in. She is also in conversation with Sula (by Toni Morrison), This is an incredibly interesting novel about a middle aged Black woman throwing a dinner party for the end of the campaign of her white husband. Drawing on Mrs Dalloway, she formed the structure around a present day event that Solomon leads her on pathways through time. To childhood, to college, to her queer experience in college and kinda falling into a 'straight' marriage that her and her husband have never been completely satisfied in. She is also in conversation with Sula (by Toni Morrison), drawing the central axis around two women from youth to middle age. She makes it romantic in origin before spinning it outward. I think the collage of the cover offers an interesting merging and seperation and unease and distance and closeness all of the same time. They also discuss Lorde to a great extent and Zami has been on my to read list for too long, every scrap of writing from the book has drawn me more in love. And her poetry immediately captured me. There is no clear progression or conclusion, we jump back and forth and hsve conversations about relationships, race, queer experience, class and feminism. And I think her clear love of writing and intergration of her inspiration into the text raises it for me. CW: suicidality, homophobia (and slurs), racism, mental health, drug use I wish there had been more positive movements or hope in Serena's story. That we were able to see her be healthier or have at least a promise of hope and recovery in the future. 3.7🌟

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    A dinner party book with lots of flashbacks. I wish it were laid out with pull quotes, so the reader could just be impressed with a great sentence/phrase here or there, but skim everything else. The characters didn't feel real to me (not the main characters--some of the secondary characters did). So I didn't really care about the story. Middle-aged woman who was never in love with her husband can't stop thinking about someone she loved in college who, conveniently, hasn't moved on at all. Seems . A dinner party book with lots of flashbacks. I wish it were laid out with pull quotes, so the reader could just be impressed with a great sentence/phrase here or there, but skim everything else. The characters didn't feel real to me (not the main characters--some of the secondary characters did). So I didn't really care about the story. Middle-aged woman who was never in love with her husband can't stop thinking about someone she loved in college who, conveniently, hasn't moved on at all. Seems . . . pathetic, but in a very ordinary way. Is the fact that the woman and the college love are lesbians supposed to be the twist? That they're Black? I felt both not smart enough for the literary references (for sure most of the Audre Lord stuff sailed over my head) and occasionally impatient that the author spelled the references out (yes, I already was thinking of Mrs. Dalloway and The Women of Brewster Place). But every time I wanted to give up, the author wrote something worth reading three more times, ten more times.

  24. 4 out of 5

    James Beggarly

    Thanks to Netgalley and FSG for the ebook. This wonderful book tells two stories. The first has Liselle, married with a teenage son, hosting a dinner party to thank the inner circle that worked for her husband Winn’s failed political campaign in there house in Philadelphia, fearing a knock on the front door after she has learned that her husband is under investigation by the FBI who have been looking into his conduct while on the campaign trail. The second story looks back to Liselle’s time in c Thanks to Netgalley and FSG for the ebook. This wonderful book tells two stories. The first has Liselle, married with a teenage son, hosting a dinner party to thank the inner circle that worked for her husband Winn’s failed political campaign in there house in Philadelphia, fearing a knock on the front door after she has learned that her husband is under investigation by the FBI who have been looking into his conduct while on the campaign trail. The second story looks back to Liselle’s time in college where she was a lesbian and having one affair after another, until she meets Selena. Although they were only together for four intense months, the embers of that relationship will color the rest of their lives. This slim novel is such a potent look at race, sexuality, families and local politics.

  25. 4 out of 5

    M R

    3.5 Stars. This was a bit different than what I was thinking would be to expect, but I enjoyed this story. I definitely understand why people point to Sula as a reference. The book is whip-smart and funny, there were several points where I had hearty chuckles of recognition. I almost wanted to say that the story was one-sided, but honestly, it wasn't, I think I'm just used to a certain way of storytelling and expect things to be equal when there's two obvious main characters. What a powerful sto 3.5 Stars. This was a bit different than what I was thinking would be to expect, but I enjoyed this story. I definitely understand why people point to Sula as a reference. The book is whip-smart and funny, there were several points where I had hearty chuckles of recognition. I almost wanted to say that the story was one-sided, but honestly, it wasn't, I think I'm just used to a certain way of storytelling and expect things to be equal when there's two obvious main characters. What a powerful story about the way that relationships, even brief ones, can change our perspective and sometimes trajectory. I honestly should have written this review immediately after finishing the book because now I'm struggling to remember the things that I really enjoyed and wanted to highlight. Overall, I'm glad that Asali Solomon is back with more of her deft hand and powerful, flawed, familiar characters.

  26. 5 out of 5

    David Jay

    There was so much to like about this book--great writing, wonderful cast of supporting characters who are unpredictable and realistically drawn. I love "Mrs. Dalloway" and love the skeleton which Asali Solomon uses here--an entire life in one day as a middle aged woman prepares to host a party. It is sort of like "A Christmas Carol" for me--I love that storyline no matter how often I come across it. But there were a couple of problems. First of all, as much as I loved the majority of characters, There was so much to like about this book--great writing, wonderful cast of supporting characters who are unpredictable and realistically drawn. I love "Mrs. Dalloway" and love the skeleton which Asali Solomon uses here--an entire life in one day as a middle aged woman prepares to host a party. It is sort of like "A Christmas Carol" for me--I love that storyline no matter how often I come across it. But there were a couple of problems. First of all, as much as I loved the majority of characters, I had a very difficult time with Liselle, the protagonist. I did not enjoy so much time spent in her company. The ending was one of the most disappointing endings I can recall. I thought for a moment that part of my book was missing. Reader is left high and dry.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Book starts interestingly enough. Black Liselle is about to throw a TY dinner party for her White hubby Winn’s unsuccessful political run. There are encounters with her Latina maid. We learn of Liselle’s journey from her first sexual encounter (lesbian) to her marriage to Winn (her first and only heterosexual relationship which seems to be borne more of security); they have a son Patrice. Winn is about to be brought up on corruption charges by FBI. Then there’s Selena whom we learn less about. T Book starts interestingly enough. Black Liselle is about to throw a TY dinner party for her White hubby Winn’s unsuccessful political run. There are encounters with her Latina maid. We learn of Liselle’s journey from her first sexual encounter (lesbian) to her marriage to Winn (her first and only heterosexual relationship which seems to be borne more of security); they have a son Patrice. Winn is about to be brought up on corruption charges by FBI. Then there’s Selena whom we learn less about. The ending appears to reunite them but literally ends with Selena showing up at Liselle’s front door. This is not a long book, but my interest dropped pretty quickly. I felt like it dragged on forever. Too slow for me, and just not all that interesting.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    Liselle and Selena were lovers at Bryn Mawr but their lives have been very different since, Now, Liselle is preparing for a dinner party when she learns that her politician husband Winn may have committed crimes and she finds herself reflecting on their live, as well as her relationship with Selena. Selena for her part has struggled with mental health. She's actually the more increasing character but she gets a short shrift, I think in the novel. I wanted to like this more than I did but I appre Liselle and Selena were lovers at Bryn Mawr but their lives have been very different since, Now, Liselle is preparing for a dinner party when she learns that her politician husband Winn may have committed crimes and she finds herself reflecting on their live, as well as her relationship with Selena. Selena for her part has struggled with mental health. She's actually the more increasing character but she gets a short shrift, I think in the novel. I wanted to like this more than I did but I appreciated it for Solomon's writing and for the way she addressed a variety of topics. Thanks to netgalley for the ARC. For fans of literary fiction.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Zoe Cohen

    While I purchased this book in part to support the author, who I know, I can say this is an objectively excellent short novel. I’ve lived in Philadelphia during the exact time span of the book, and frequented many of the locations it takes place in, and the characters and places are so nuanced and well described, I feel like I’ve met these people. I read it in 3 sittings, I found the storytelling and structure extremely compelling. Most importantly to me, the book contains a sense of openness an While I purchased this book in part to support the author, who I know, I can say this is an objectively excellent short novel. I’ve lived in Philadelphia during the exact time span of the book, and frequented many of the locations it takes place in, and the characters and places are so nuanced and well described, I feel like I’ve met these people. I read it in 3 sittings, I found the storytelling and structure extremely compelling. Most importantly to me, the book contains a sense of openness and is not overly defined or prescriptive. It allows for interpretation and a personal experience of the reader.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Makena Riendeau

    The premise of this book seemed so interesting. A Black woman who marries a white man from a wealthy family, struggling with her identity particularly when she hires a Hispanic woman to help her around the house and when her husband went into politics. I was looking for deliberation, dialogue, struggle. Instead I felt like this book had about 15 different plots - none of which had enough time spent on them. For 200 pages, this book was absolutely all over the place. Additionally I felt like the The premise of this book seemed so interesting. A Black woman who marries a white man from a wealthy family, struggling with her identity particularly when she hires a Hispanic woman to help her around the house and when her husband went into politics. I was looking for deliberation, dialogue, struggle. Instead I felt like this book had about 15 different plots - none of which had enough time spent on them. For 200 pages, this book was absolutely all over the place. Additionally I felt like the writing style was a little too much telling over showing for my taste.

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