Best Black & African American Historical Fiction Reviews From BookViral

"Superbly researched, Williams has written a very special novel"

Black & African American Historical Fiction
Golden Quill
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  • Publisher: ‎ Pairee Publications (September 29, 2023)
  • Language: ‎ English
  • Paperback: ‎ 356 pages
  • ISBN-10: ‎ 1737181851
  • ISBN-13: ‎ 978-1737181859
  • Genre: Black & African American Historical Fiction

 

The BookViral Review:

A powerful and illuminating novel that looks at the deep effects of racism on the experiences, lives, minds and relationships of black people and people of colour in the USA Making My Way To Harlem: A Novel About the Harlem Renaissance should be considered required reading for anyone wanting to explore the development of  Harlem as a Black cultural mecca in the early 20th Century and the subsequent social and artistic explosion that resulted.

The Harlem Renaissance was a golden age for African-American artists, writers and musicians. Not only giving them greater pride in and control over how the Black experience was represented in American culture but also setting the stage for the civil rights movement. And to distil the essence of this into a single novel is an ambitious undertaking and yet it’s one that Williams has fully embraced and he has admirably succeeded in bringing the period to life.

Through his key characters of Marcus Williams, Sam Arthur and Nina Jackson Williams takes us into the heart of Harlem where he confronts both sides of the racial divide. He submerses us in the vibrant nightlife where entrepreneurs realized that some white people wanted to experience Black culture without having to socialize with African Americans and created clubs like The Cotton Club to cater to them which he contrasts with rent parties and stark poverty behind the glitzy façade of Harlem life. And in doing so we get the feeling of personal histories being written with some people breaking free and others surrendering to a sense of futility.

With a superb overarching plot, there’s not an uninteresting character in Making My Way To Harlem, but it’s Marcus Williams, Sam Arthur, Nina Jackson and Mary who standout with Nina’s attempts to fit in amongst people who think she is white being a particularly powerful and poignant narrative thread. Through Marcus, we are introduced to the Black Pride movement leaders like Du Bois who worked to ensure that Black Americans got the credit they deserved for cultural areas of life. People like Claude McKay and Jessie Redmon Fauset who left their mark on the world of poetry and fiction. Civil rights activist James Weldon Johnson who experiences led him to write The Autobiography of An Ex-Colored Man followed by God’s Trombones and many more notable figures who left an indelible mark on Black American history.

As plot threads come together it has the confidence and momentum of a novel where every scene has been lovingly crafted. Giving Making My Way To Harlem an underlying rhythm that makes its key characters’ lives into steps in a sad ballet as the unrelenting realities of time and place force them down different paths and futures beyond Harlem’s initial lure.

Superbly researched, Williams has written a very special novel. One that goes beyond the dictates of bestselling fiction to enlighten and remind us of the long-standing and endemic issues of racism. A Golden Quill read it is unreservedly recommended.

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