THE DAYS OF AFREKETE: A Novel
by Asali Solomon
Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 189 pages, $26.
THE PLOT of The Days of Afrekete is set in motion on page one when the reader learns that the husband of one of the main characters is facing jail time. The stage is fleshed out a couple of pages later as the narrator observes: “Liselle’s forty-one years of research suggested that no matter how distant, abusive, judgmental, unloving, and useless one’s mother was, one called her when things fell apart.” The snappy immediacy of this beginning continues through much of this short novel, provocatively linked by critics with such literary masterpieces as Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and Toni Morrison’s Sula. The novel’s title invokes Afrekete, a figure in Audre Lorde’s woman-centered biomythography Zami and provides a secret code word of alarm between the two women lovers whose college romance haunts the narrative.
The setting is Obama-era Philadelphia, and structure of the novel is provided by a racially mixed dinner party hosted by Liselle Belmont Anderson and her lawyer husband Winn to thank supporters of his lost bid for state representative.