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Disgruntled: A Novel
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Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2015
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Description

An elegant, vibrant, startling coming-of-age novel, for anyone who's ever felt the shame of being alive

Kenya Curtis is only eight years old, but she knows that she's different, even if she can't put her finger on how or why. It's not because she's black—most of the other students in the fourth-grade class at her West Philadelphia elementary school are too. Maybe it's because she celebrates Kwanzaa, or because she's forbidden from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Maybe it's because she calls her father—a housepainter-slash-philosopher—"Baba" instead of "Daddy," or because her parents' friends gather to pour out libations "from the Creator, for the Martyrs" and discuss "the community."
Kenya does know that it's connected to what her Baba calls "the shame of being alive"—a shame that only grows deeper and more complex over the course of Asali Solomon's long-awaited debut novel. Disgruntled, effortlessly funny and achingly poignant, follows Kenya from West Philadelphia to the suburbs, from public school to private, from childhood through adolescence, as she grows increasingly disgruntled by her inability to find any place or thing or person that feels like home.
A coming-of-age tale, a portrait of Philadelphia in the late eighties and early nineties, an examination of the impossible double-binds of race, Disgruntled is a novel about the desire to rise above the limitations of the narratives we're given and the painful struggle to craft fresh ones we can call our own.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
02/03/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780374712952
ASIN:
B00LRWXCQO
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Asali Solomon. (2015). Disgruntled: A Novel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Asali Solomon. 2015. Disgruntled: A Novel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Asali Solomon, Disgruntled: A Novel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Asali Solomon. Disgruntled: A Novel. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • fileAs: Solomon, Asali
      • bioText: Asali Solomon's first novel, Disgruntled, was named a best book of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle and The Denver Post. Her debut story collection, 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 Daily, McSweeney's, and several anthologies, and on NPR. Solomon teaches fiction writing and literature of the African diaspora at Haverford College. She was born and raised in Philadelphia, where she lives with her husband and two sons.
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shortDescription

An elegant, vibrant, startling coming-of-age novel, for anyone who's ever felt the shame of being alive

Kenya Curtis is only eight years old, but she knows that she's different, even if she can't put her finger on how or why. It's not because she's black—most of the other students in the fourth-grade class at her West Philadelphia elementary school are too. Maybe it's because she celebrates Kwanzaa, or because she's forbidden from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Maybe it's because she calls her father—a housepainter-slash-philosopher—"Baba" instead of "Daddy," or because her parents' friends gather to pour out libations "from the Creator, for the Martyrs" and discuss "the community."
Kenya does know that it's connected to what her Baba calls "the shame of being alive"—a shame that only grows deeper and more complex over the course of Asali Solomon's long-awaited debut novel. Disgruntled, effortlessly funny and achingly...

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title
Disgruntled
fullDescription

An elegant, vibrant, startling coming-of-age novel, for anyone who's ever felt the shame of being alive

Kenya Curtis is only eight years old, but she knows that she's different, even if she can't put her finger on how or why. It's not because she's black—most of the other students in the fourth-grade class at her West Philadelphia elementary school are too. Maybe it's because she celebrates Kwanzaa, or because she's forbidden from reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Maybe it's because she calls her father—a housepainter-slash-philosopher—"Baba" instead of "Daddy," or because her parents' friends gather to pour out libations "from the Creator, for the Martyrs" and discuss "the community."
Kenya does know that it's connected to what her Baba calls "the shame of being alive"—a shame that only grows deeper and more complex over the course of Asali Solomon's long-awaited debut novel. Disgruntled, effortlessly funny and achingly poignant, follows Kenya from West Philadelphia to the suburbs, from public school to private, from childhood through adolescence, as she grows increasingly disgruntled by her inability to find any place or thing or person that feels like home.
A coming-of-age tale, a portrait of Philadelphia in the late eighties and early nineties, an examination of the impossible double-binds of race, Disgruntled is a novel about the desire to rise above the limitations of the narratives we're given and the painful struggle to craft fresh ones we can call our own.

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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Steph Cha, Los Angeles Times
      • content:

        "Disgruntled is . . . a smart, philosophical, coming-of-age tale featuring a vivid protagonist who battles 'the shame of being alive.' . . . Solomon is a masterful writer, and Disgruntled is entertaining and thought-provoking in equal measure . . . Solomon is a skillful guide who presents beauty and complex ideas in clear, accessible prose, with frequent punches of laugh-out-loud humor."

      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly
      • content: "An air of dissatisfaction pervades this unsentimental portrait of one girl's rocky journey to adulthood, in an impressive debut novel from Solomon . . . The perpetual outsider, Kenya searches for her places in society as she bounces between schools, friend groups, and family members. Her incisive commentary is both arresting and painful, despite her ongoing dissatisfaction. This is a bildingsroman with a kick."
      • premium: False
      • source: Elizabeth McCracken, author of Thunderstruck & Other Stories
      • content: "Disgruntled is tender, hilarious, perfectly remembered and rendered, that rare book that is both wildly imaginative and thrillingly true to life. Get Down established Asali Solomon as one of the finest writers of her generation; Disgruntled narrows it down to one of the finest writers alive."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        December 1, 2014
        An air of dissatisfaction pervades this unsentimental portrait of one girl’s rocky journey to adulthood, in an impressive debut novel from Solomon (following her story collection Get Down). Growing up in West Philadelphia in the late ’80s, eight-year-old Kenya Curtis is old enough to notice that her family is different from her classmates’. Her charismatic father gives speeches on philosophy, race, and religion at weekly meetings of a motley group called the Seven Days, but Kenya never falls under his spell as some of the Seven Days do. After a traumatic event, Kenya’s world shifts: she moves from a small house in the city to a big one in the suburbs, and from public to private school. The perpetual outsider, Kenya searches for her place in society as she bounces between schools, friend groups, and family members. Her incisive commentary is both arresting and painful, despite her ongoing dissatisfaction. This is a bildungsroman with a kick.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        December 1, 2014
        In this witty take on 1980s Philadelphia, a young girl comes of age and learns to navigate love, loss, school and family. Kenya, whom we meet at age 7 and watch graduate from high school into womanhood, is the daughter of Afrocentric parents. Their politics and yearly celebration of Kwanzaa, which entails "sporting an orange, yellow and brown dashiki and a forehead-straining vertical braided hairstyle," make Kenya a social pariah even at her all-black school. In Kenya, Solomon has crafted a character of irrepressible verve and voice who carries us joyously through the novel-even after she witnesses her parents' breakup, when her father is imprisoned for injuring her mother with a gun. With the separation, Kenya is propelled from her safe black Philly world into the white world of an elite private school-the very world her father fled, traumatized and bitter. Here, she becomes a master of code-switching to fit in, all while knowing that her classmates will never truly accept her. After a chance meeting with a black boy from her old neighborhood turns into a failed love affair, Kenya seeks comfort in a visit to her father, newly released from prison. The scenes with Kenya's father, who's enjoying a bigamous life with two new wives and two new sets of kids, are razor-sharp on the contradictions of identity-here, for example, we see Kenya's father, a staunch activist for African-American rights, unable to make the link to respect women's rights. Kenya has a palpable need for her father to become a solid, guiding force as she steps into womanhood, but he can't do it. And when her stepfather loses all her mother's money, Kenya's future college education doesn't quite go as planned. In this debut novel, Solomon (Get Down, 2008) examines the confusing moments on the verge of adulthood within the ever shifting makeup of family and society. Blackness, feminism and the loss of virginity have never been analyzed by a more astute and witty main character.

        COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        February 15, 2015

        This much-anticipated first novel from Solomon (following her highly regarded collection, Get Down) is the coming-of-age story of a young African American woman going through a childhood and adolescence in 1980s Philadelphia that are more difficult than most. Straddling two diverse worlds, with two very different (and difficult) parents, is Kenya's burden. She knows her family is unusual; most kids don't call their dad Baba, celebrate Kwanzaa, shun pork, or have a group of semimilitant activists called the Seven Days meeting in their home. Kenya's father, Johnbrown, is not so much a civil rights activist as a self-styled philosopher and author. He's obsessed with past martyrs, especially a black servant who gruesomely murdered the mistress of Frank Lloyd Wright and several others in 1914 Wisconsin. When Kenya's parents split up, her life changes as she and her mother, a librarian, move to a safer part of the city and Kenya is accepted into an expensive all-girls school. VERDICT Will Kenya flourish at her new school, go to college, and become upwardly mobile, as her hardworking but dissatisfied mother wants? Where does Kenya belong? How will she find her own path, and her own identity, not one defined by her past and her parents? Solomon addresses all these questions with consummate grace.--Shaunna E. Hunter, Hampden-Sydney Coll. Lib., VA

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from October 15, 2014
        Kenya is teased mercilessly by her Philadelphia grade-school classmates for her Kwanzaa-celebrating family's odd waysand they don't know the half of it. Her radical father, Johnbrown (he added brown in racial solidarity), went to prep school and got thrown out of Cornell. Now, in 1984, he preaches black anarchy as the volatile leader of the Seven Days, a group he and Kenya's mother, Sheila, who grew up in the projects and who supports her family as a librarian, has pulled together, based, in part, on the black vigilantes in Toni Morrison's novel, Song of Solomon. The oddest thing about charismatic Johnbrown's idiosyncratic belief system is his spooky fascination with Frank Lloyd Wright's black butler, who burned down the architect's Wisconsin home and murdered Wright's mistress and her children. Preternaturally observant and mordantly funny, Kenya is a hypnotic narrator coping valiantly with an increasingly bewildering life. When Johnbrown and Sheila split apart with ballistic force, each establishes a household problematic for Kenya in unnerving ways as she finds herself navigating the chill of a private, primarily white high school and dreaming of college. Solomon's cultural references resound, her dialogue stings, and the intricate and surprising relationships she choreographs are saturated with racial, sexual, and political quandaries of intimate and epochal repercussions. A deft, knowing, bold, and witty debut.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2014, American Library Association.)

subtitle
A Novel
popularity
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publisher
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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