The Days of Afrekete
“I didn’t feel like I was reading this novel–I felt like I was living it.” –Ann Patchett, author of The Dutch House
From award-winning author Asali Solomon, The Days of Afrekete is a tender, surprising novel of two women at midlife who rediscover themselves–and perhaps each other, i nspired by Mrs. Dalloway, Sula, and Audre Lorde’s Zami
Liselle Belmont is having a dinner party.
It seems a strange occasion–her husband, Winn, has lost his bid for the state legislature–but what better way to thank key supporters than a feast? Liselle was never sure about her husband becoming a politician, never sure about the limelight, never sure about the life of fundraising and stump speeches. Then an FBI agent calls to warn her that Winn might be facing corruption charges. An avalanche of questions tumbles around her: Is it possible he’s guilty? Who are they to each other; who have they become? How much of herself has she lost–and was it worth it? And just this minute, how will she make it through this dinner party?
Across town, Selena Octave is making her way through the same day, the same way she always does–one foot in front of the other, keeping quiet and focused, trying not to see the terrors all around her. Homelessness, starving children, the very living horrors of history that made America possible: these and other thoughts have made it difficult for her to live an easy life. The only time she was ever really happy was with Liselle, back in college. But they’ve lost touch, so much so that when they ran into each other at a drugstore just after Obama was elected president, they barely spoke. But as the day wears on, memories of Liselle begin to shift Selena’s path.
Inspired by Mrs. Dalloway and Sula, as well as Audre Lorde’s Zami, Asali Solomon’s The Days of Afrekete is a deft, expertly layered, naturally funny, and deeply human examination of two women coming back to themselves at midlife. It is a watchful celebration of our choices and where they take us, the people who change us, and how we can reimagine ourselves even when our lives seem set.
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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