“The summer of ’67 was hot and foreboding. Folks in our neighborhood milled in the steamy streets, sweat-soaked and frowning. It was even hotter elsewhere: While other cities boiled over, Gateway mostly simmered. There was no question, though, that the temperature was steadily rising. Young men no longer hailed each other with an innocuous wave; instead they thrust black fists skyward. “Brothers and sisters are getting fed up,” my brother Ed grew fond of saying. “Sooner or later some shit’s gonna explode.” And it did.” —Passage from A Taste of Honey
A TASTE OF HONEY
By JABARI ASIM
“A Taste of Honey has the power of memoir and the poetry of fiction. Suddenly, it is 1968 once more, with all of the hope and violence and seismic change that rocked the cities that summer. It’s all here and it’s all beautifully rendered. This book is a gem.”
—Chris Bohjalian, author of Secrets of Eden
“Asim successfully delves into politics, domestic violence, racial identity, young love, and more in this humorous and poignant collection.”
“With his debut work of fiction, the Guggenheim Fellow proves himself to be a promising storyteller.” —Library Journal
Jabari Asim is a well-respected and acclaimed writer, critic, and current editor-in-chief for The Crisis. Having served as vice-president of the National Book Critics Circle, as well as a former columnist for the Washington Post, Jabari is well-positioned and connected for literary success. His debut work of fiction A TASTE OF HONEY: Stories (Broadway Books; On Sale: March 2, 2010; Trade Paperback Original; $13.00), brings into focus one of the most turbulent years in modern history, 1968, the year Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated and the fight to outlaw racial discrimination against African Americans was at a tumultuous peak. Through a series of fictional episodes about a small Midwestern town, Jabari captures the lives of real people trying to survive in a hate-filled world. Both powerful and exhilarating, this collection of sixteen inter-connected stories is meant for anyone who wants to understand—and celebrate—how our country arrived at the place we’re in today.
The narratives are set in the imaginary Midwestern town of South Gateway, where second-generation offspring of the African Americans involved in the Great Migration have pieced together a thriving if uneasy existence. Centered on the lives of a diverse cast of well drawn characters, the stories evoke a uniquely American epoch; a time and a place that is vividly rendered here with the twin peaks of horror and nostalgia. With police brutality on the rise, the civil rights movement gaining momentum, and wars raging at home and abroad, the community Jabari Asim has conjured stands on edge. Against this backdrop, the people in each story also struggle with everyday grievances such as love, child-rearing, adolescence, and domestic abuse. Each vignette is achingly chronicled and creates a piercing portrait of humanity.
In the passages “I’d Rather Go Blind” and “Zombies” young Crispus Jones, who while sensitive to the tremors of upheaval around him is still much more concerned with his crush on neighbor Polly and if he’s ever going to be as good-looking and cool as his brother. When Ray Mortimer, a white cop who is loathed by the black community, kills the owner of his favorite candy store, Crispus begins to understand that there is hatred in his world far more terrifying than zombies and the ghost that he thinks may be haunting his house.
In “The Wheat from the Tares” and “A Virtuous Woman,” we are introduced to Rose Whittier, a woman blessed with a singing voice from the gods, and cursed with an abusive husband. When her husband Paul disappears, Rose is given a second chance at life, and love.
From Crispus’s tender innocence to Ray Mortimer’s wickedness to Rose’s quiet determination, the characters in A TASTE OF HONEY showcase a world that is brimming with grace and darkness and displays the talents of a writer at the top of his game.
# # #
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jabari Asim is the author of What Obama Means . . . For Our Culture, Our Politics, Our Future, The N Word, and several books for children. He is also a scholar-in-residence at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and editor-in-chief of The Crisis, the flagship magazine of the NAACP. His writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Essence, Ebony, and other publications. He recently was honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship.
A TASTE OF HONEY
By Jabari Asim
Published by Broadway Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.
Trade Paperback Original; $13.00; 224 pages
For more information about A TASTE OF HONEY or to schedule an interview with
Jabari Asim, please contact Caroline Sill at 212-782-8943 or firstname.lastname@example.org.