A Particular Kind of Black Man

S. & S. Aug. 2019. 272p. ISBN 9781501171819. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501171826. F
DEBUT In this personal story of growing up in Utah and Texas, narrator Tunde and his brother lead a chaotic existence owing to their mentally ill and abusive mother’s issues, their father’s struggles with trying to fit in as a Nigerian in America, and their own experience as children. Particularly interesting are the passages in which the family runs an ice cream truck business. When Tunde’s mother returns to Nigeria, she is soon replaced by a Nigerian stepmother, who also ends up leaving. As the narrative transitions to Tunde in college, his dual memories become an issue—he admits to differing memories of numerous key points in his past, including the ice cream truck sales and his brother’s living situation—which adds a deepening level of uncertainty to the whole story. Finally, when Tunde’s college love affair becomes untenable, he returns to Nigeria for a meaningful reunion with his estranged mother.
VERDICT Rhodes scholar and Caine Prize winner Folarin enriches our understanding of cultural identity and race within the caustic malaise that is modern American culture, with shifting memory, shared tradition, and the ineffable foundation of family arising as antidotes. [See Prepub Alert, 2/11/19.]
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