All countries are unique, but I’ve always found Turkey to have a compelling case to be the most unique of all. Straddling East and West geographically, culturally, religiously, ethnically, and politically. It is a county with an ancient and modern history: beautiful and ugly, loving and brutal, brilliant and foolish, mysterious and mystifying.

Mina Seckin adds to the deep trove of Turkish literature with her brilliant debut, “The Four Humors”. She tells the story of 4 generations of Kurdish/Turkish/American families striving to survive, impact, and decipher life and its meaning.

The story starts out simply. The reader settles into a…


Racism — America’s original sin. Why can’t we break the cycle? Why can’t we just move on? We’ve heard a lot lately. Those of us working at street-level have heard a lot for a long time. It’s been ages since I’ve read anything nearly as powerful as “Memphis”, the stunning debut novel by Tara M. Stringfellow.

Racism and poverty have their roots in violence and trauma. Those roots run deep and are not made to be easily dug up and removed. Every individual has both their own roots, as well as those of their family and community. At some point…


I grew up during the Cold War, taught to fear and despise the evil Soviet empire, where no one was free and whose main goal in life was to obliterate the United States of America with a nuclear attack. We had drills in my elementary school for that imminent moment when the bomb dropped, on our knees, heads to the floor and hands over our little heads, as if that would prevent us all from immolation. …


Families and secrets. How many novels are centered on this age-old dynamic? Charmaine Wilkerson’s fabulous debut gives Byron and Benny all they can handle and more in “Black Cake”.

The family trees in “Black Cake” have lots of roots. Most are hidden deep underground until Byron and Benny get to hear their mom’s last communication. Everyone thinks that they know all about themselves and others. By the time we’re through, everyone understands that all assumptions were way off. It’s time to change perceptions, narratives, and life goals before it’s too late.

Wilkerson stuffs in a whole lot more as well…


When Claire Vaye Watkins opens her powerful new “I Love You but I’ve Chosen Darkness” with “I’ve tried to tell this story a bunch of times. This will be my last try………”, you know that you have just boarded an emotional rollercoaster that will be hard to get off before being deeply impacted..

We get to meet 3+ generations of families usually with limited resources, doing what they have to do just to get by. There are times when you wish that people were making better choices, but you have to admire their courage and daring. It is generally the…


It is unusual for me to be attracted to fantasy, but I was intrigued by Astra House’s description of “God of Mercy”. It promised to depict worlds as they were, are, and could realistically be.

Okezie Nwoka’s striking debut kept my attention from beginning to end, in multiple ways. It is an homage to oral and written communication, beautifully captured in multiple languages and dialects. It is an education at the highest level in the spirituality and sociology of comparative religions. …


Ashley Nelson Levy’s visceral debut, “Immediate Family” starts out benignly enough — her brother asks if she will make a speech at his imminent wedding. How nice! I guess I can. What will I say?

The complexity and disquiet of the request rolls out slowly. It’s been a while since the siblings last had time to catch up on what’s really going on in their lives. And there’s kind of a lot of catching up to do. And it’s not just recently that there have been a few issues; it’s kind of been that way for a long time, sort…


The story begins. Poor Elle. She must be in advanced stages of dementia. But her visions are so beautiful! Poetic. Perfect. Sad. This is going to be a hard read — following Elle to her end.

But, wait. Who are all these characters? The prose is still breathtaking, but I need to start paying attention. What all is going on? Clearly there is way more to this novel. Yes, it’s sad, but nuanced, layered, subtle. Wonderful.

I didn’t know what to expect from “The Stars are Not Yet Bells”. I knew that Hannah Lillith Assadi is a 5 Under 35…


Colm Toibin is a literary treasure. From his pure fiction like “Brooklyn” to his biofiction such as “The Master” to his plays, essays, journals, critical reviews and teaching, he has made an outsize impact on the world of literature for the past 40+ years. He is an advocate for the voiceless, unafraid, and unabashed. He has long been an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and equality.

My first encounter with Toibin was reading “Homage to Barcelona”. He captures the essence of a city that is, and always has been, fascinating in every way. I followed that by reading his first…


What a propulsive read! Where to start?

“Brown Girls” is Daphne Palasi Andreades’ debut novel. She has talent oozing out of every pore. “Brown Girls” exceeded my high expectations. There is so much there.

I happened to read “Brown Girls” the weekend that we ventured out to a real movie theater for the 1st time in forever because we just had to see “In the Heights” on a big screen. While the comparison to “Brown Girls” is not perfect, it is very apt. Land of Opportunity. American Exceptionalism. Land of the Free, Home of the Brave. …

Mark Broms

Engaged in the promotion of Economic, Racial, and Social Justice in Brevard County, Florida

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