The Literature Café

Great books and yummy food!

Book Review Tuesday

The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor

This novel explores the lives of seven women in Brewster Place, a ghetto that is shut off from the rest of the city by a brick wall.   The women’s names are: Mattie, Etta Mae, Lucielia, Kiswana, Cora Lee, Lorraine, and Theresa.  The novel is divided into seven stories.  These women do not start off living in Brewster Place; different circumstances in the human condition brought them there.    The main character is Mattie Michael, since she is present in most of the stories.  After the story of Mattie’s arrival, the novel continues with the rest of the women and their narratives.the_women_of_brewster_place

 

When I first read The Women of Brewster Place, I was very surprised since Gloria Naylor published this novel before graduating from her Bachelors degree.  The themes and plot of this novel are very intriguing and, as many African American novels, no matter what happens the characters always have hope and a fire to keep on fighting.  The themes of community, love, sisterhood, oppression and liberation are by no means new, but Naylor manages to intricately introduce these and connect them with the history of the African American culture following the Civil Rights Movement.

Also, Naylor’s descriptions of both the characters and of Brewster Place are very detailed and relatable.  By the end of the book you feel as if you know these women and have shared things with them that will stay with you for the rest of your life.  You laugh and you cry with these women and with Brewster Place, since it’s as if Brewster Place were alive and a character on its own.

One of the most important things to take away from this novel is that it does not matter where you live you should always have love, community and the responsibility to improve.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do! Let me know if you have read it!

My Top Five Favorite Authors

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Today’s post is the first of a new series titled “Top Five” and it consists of my favorite authors.  Now, being a literature major this is somewhat difficult to narrow down since I read lots of texts by various authors; especially when I am taking courses on different themes.  My criteria for choosing these is pretty easy, since I just evaluated the authors that keep me coming back and reading more than one book by them because I enjoy their writing style.

  • Gloria Naylor
  • Toni Morrison
  • Zora Neale Hurston
  • Jane Austen
  • Charles Dickens

Do you have any favorite authors?  

A lot of food and little reading…

Well that was some good Jambalaya last Thursday.  I hope yours turned out well too!  It seems like all I am doing throughout the weekend is eat.  I have barely read, since I have a lot of engagements to attend and in all of them there is a lot of food.   So, here are some of the yummy recipes that I would like to bring to The Literature Café in the future:

Sushi – California rolls

Red Velvet cake

Brownies

Cielito Lindo

On the literature front, I did start Lakota Woman and found it a little hard to get into.  However, after the first chapter things are looking up. 

Has this ever happened to you?

Happy Valentine’s Day

Hope you have a great Valentine’s Day with friends and family.  I do not consider this day to be solely for couples or romance, but for sharing with friends and loved ones. So instead of stating my favorite fictional romantic couple, I’ll discuss my favorite fictional siblings/friends. MP900314150

One of my favorite fictional siblings/friends are the March sisters from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. The love that these sisters share is worthy of celebration.

Which fictional friends or siblings do you like?

 

In the New Orleans mood!

I’m in the New Orleans mood because of The Awakening.  So, today The Literature Café will feature its second recipe: Jambalaya.  Here is a recipe that I got when I went to New Orleans and that I’m looking forward to making.  It’s actually from a post card by Cuisine Art New Orleans.DSC04799

Serves 6

 

3 lbs. shrimp

1 lb. smoked sausage

2 Tbs. oil

1 Tbs. butter

1 cup of chopped onions

1 cup of chopped green peppers

½ cup of finely chopped celery

1 16oz. can of tomatoes

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

¼ cup of fresh parsley, chopped

2 cups of chicken stock

½ cup of green onions, chopped

1 tsp. basil

2 bay leaves

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (or  ¼ tsp if you’re like me and enjoy spicy.)

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. chili powder

1 ½ cups of long grain rice

 

  • Peel the shrimp (if needed)
  • Slice the sausage and sauté in the oil and butter over low heat for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the onions, green peppers, celery and garlic and sauté slowly until the vegetables are tender.
  • Stir in tomatoes, seasoning, rice and stock.
  • Add shrimp bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and cover.
  • Simmer for about 25 – 30 minutes or until rice is fluffy.
  • During the last 5 minutes add the green onions and the chopped parsley.

Enjoy!

P.S. Let me know how it turned out.

Book Review Tuesday

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Set in New Orleans, this is the story of Edna Pontellier, a woman that has been married for some time and has two children.  As a wife and mother, Edna is at times uncomfortable and at odds with what is expected of her.  She has various friends that are free to express themselves and Edna yearns for this.  Through this novel we experience the questioning of the roles of wife, mother and women.   

I have recently finished reading this novel for the first time and must say that this was a very good read appealing to the reader in many ways.  As I have explained in other posts I am an English graduate student, but my bachelor’s degree was in psychology so there is a great number of American fiction that I have yet to discover; The Awakening51WW8GZ48FL__SL160_ was one of them.  Quite frankly and honestly I could admit that if I had read this sooner it may not have made the same great impression that it has left in me today.

As a recently married woman or as a person that has many responsibilities this text has a greater meaning to me.  Its description of a woman’s search for her identity in a time where the responsibilities as a wife, mother, and a hostess, in general as a woman conflict with the growth of her free will, passion and desires is marvelous and typical of Chopin.

Chopin handled the various elements of fiction, like plot and character development, with great precision and intellectual style.  The use of New Orleans as the setting is a smart choice, since there is no city that radiates free will more than this.  As someone that has recently been there, I find that it brings back many feelings and experiences that make me want to go again.

There is great mystery and excitement to this novel since Chopin is not a predictable writer, but a writer that set out on a mission to make the reader interpret the novel’s message on their own.  This is the whole point of literature; one must discover the themes and messages on his or her own.

Hope you enjoy it too!

The Perfect Saturday

A perfect Saturday at The Literature Café starts off with one of our favorite breakfasts: Eggs in a Basket! This is paired with a latte Puerto Rican style or any type of coffee or tea you like. The recipes for these are as follows:

For the Eggs in a Basket:

1-2 slices of bread (your choice of bread, we use sandwich wheat bread oatmeal flavor)

1-2 eggs

Butter or margarine

Cooking spray (butter flavor)

Salt (optional)

 

For latte Puerto Rican style:

4 oz of brewed coffee

Milk (until you reach your desired color)

Sugar to taste

 

eggbasket

  • Cut out a circle in the middle of each slice of bread.
  • Spread butter on each side of the slice.
  • In a medium-high heat set a small or medium frying pan, apply cooking spray and a little bit of butter (optional).
  • When hot, put in a slice of bread and crack an egg right in the circle of the bread.
  • Cook until golden on each side and egg is fully cooked.

Then is just lounging in comfortable chairs and reading to your heart’s content. For me is Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day.

What have you been reading?