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The Days of Afrekete: A Novel (Hardcover)
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 and they're having the key supporters over to thank them for their work. Liselle was never sure about Winn becoming a politician, never sure about the limelight, about the life of fundraising and stump speeches. Now that it's over she is facing new questions: Who are they to each other, after all this? How much of herself has she lost on the way—and was it worth it? Just before the night begins, she hears from an FBI agent, who claims that Winn is corrupt. Is it possible? How will she make it through this dinner party?
Across town, Selena 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 a normal 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 run into each other at a drugstore just after Obama is elected president, they barely speak. But as the day wears on, Selena's memories of Liselle begin to shift her path.
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 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.
About the Author
Asali Solomon’s first novel, Disgruntled, was a best book of the year at the San Francisco Chronicle and The Denver Post. Her first book, Get Down, earned her a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35” honor, and was a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Her work has appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, Vibe, Essence, The Paris Review’s The Daily, McSweeney’s, and several anthologies, and on NPR. Solomon teaches fiction writing and literature of the African diaspora at Haverford College. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she lives there with her husband and two sons.
“This funny and engaging book kept me up well into the midnight hour. The characters are a riot—the kind I’d want to be at a barbecue with and whose lives are so palpable and interesting, they would definitely be my favorite aunts! This is no midlife crisis—it’s life! Asali Solomon paints beautiful, imperfect, and unforgettable characters everyone will be able to relate to in so many ways.”
—Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Patsy
“With both a precise focus on a single day and the range to cover decades, The Days of Afrekete beautifully captures what it feels like to find yourself going through the motions of a life that used to pulse with color, wondering what you traded for survival or success. Asali Solomon illuminates what it means to grow away from what felt like the truest version of yourself, what the way back might look like, what Black women in particular are asked to give up, and what it might mean to refuse. Solomon is a treasure: wise, hilarious, and full of poignant insight.”
—Danielle Evans, author of The Office of Historical Corrections
“The Days of Afrekete is a subtle, unique novel about the power of feeling between young women, and how even seemingly ephemeral relationships can affect a life across decades of personal and social change. It is a haunting and redemptive story.”
—Mary Gaitskill, author of This is Pleasure
“This profoundly intelligent and moving novel explores and dramatizes the sometimes mysterious sources and adult consequences of choices made in youth. These characters are damaged but talented, seemingly well-positioned to succeed but unsure of what they want for themselves, or of where they or their loyalties really belong. Their intimate ensemble of voices engages and converses with perfect pitch across races, sexualities, and social classes, seeking love and happiness and losing these. I know that some of these complex, haunting characters, especially Liselle and Selena, now feel permanently alive in me. Asali Solomon is extraordinarily gifted, and I feel so grateful to have read this novel.”
—Francisco Goldman, author of Monkey Boy
“This is a masterful novel, a controlled and aching exploration of how choices made long ago echo throughout our lives and how the bonds of true affection strain but do not break. I have always loved Asali Solomon’s work, but The Days of Afrekete may well be her sharpest, most trenchant, most brilliant book yet.”
—Cristina Henríquez, author of The Book of Unknown Americans
“Asali Solomon—who should be a household name—may become one with The Days of Afrekete, a masterwork that shines a spotlight on what is troubling, uncomfortable, and hilariously funny about our present moment in time. There are few writers working today who are as precise with language, as perceptive, and—only when she wants to be—as moving as Solomon. This concise novel, which seems at first like a blistering send-up of an upper-middle-class dinner party, expands into strangeness and beauty and a meditation on the meaning of life. I won't forget it.”
—Liz Moore, author of Long Bright River
“The Days of Afrekete is so elegant and fresh, so sophisticated and modern, I didn't feel like I was reading this novel—I felt like I was living it. I loved every minute.”
—Ann Patchett, author of The Dutch House
“The Days of Afrekete is one of the most enjoyable novels I’ve read in a long time. Asali Solomon is a wickedly astute observer of the human condition, alert to all our weaknesses and absurdities, as well as our occasional moments of transcendence. The clarity of her vision is sometimes unsettling, but it’s always revelatory.”
—Tom Perrotta, author of Mrs. Fletcher