Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Book Review [Liliane by Ntozake Shange]

I first read Ntozake Shange's work as a teenager and even auditioned with a few of her monologues for entrance into the performing arts high school that I attended, and that was along time ago. So of course being move by the lyrical flow of her writing I purchased through the years a few more of her titles for my unique artist collection of books and after sitting on my shelf for a few decades I decided to give her a read. In this second go round with her novel Liliana, I realized that Ntozake has a way in writing that takes you into the mind of the insane and the extremely dysfunctional part of life. If you are familiar with Ntozake's most popular work, For Colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enough, you will find that the content that she brings forth in Liliane follows all those same themes; emotional immaturity, bad love affairs, abortion, dancing, jazz, a little Latin culture, troubled childhoods and domestic violence. It was boring to me, I guess I have outgrown the necessity to wallow in the pitiful things in life, it was like I had heard it all before. 

Liliane is one dysfunctional episode in life after another all the way to the end of the book. The writing alternates between scenes from Liliana's life, being told as a personal account by the main character or another character who witnessed it, and sessions with her therapist whom Liliana is always rude to. 

Now it wasn't all that bad. Ntozake also has a style in her writing that is very charming, and she uses it well in Liliane. She offers the reader an expansive list of historical people, places, and things that will entice you to expand your knowledge by getting to know these worthwhile mentions like The Crests, The Shirelles, Bartok and places like Lisbon. Ntozake keeps alive forgotten icons of world culture. This is the best part of the book. Unless you're just on a mission to read all of Ntozake's books you can probably skip Liliane. I give this book two ankhs. 

K. Akua Gray
April 12, 2016
Houston, TX

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