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Andre Keitt






This book club project is meant to build strong community with strong literacy programming. The project will strive to promote the idea that reading for pleasure is another tool in developing tolerance, and discipline, as well as, reinforcing skills in judgment and progressive decision-making practices.


 Meeting Occurrence Proposal

The group leader will: lead a discussion of the pages; present ideas to think and talk about such as, literary devices employed, concepts and phraseology, and symbolism; lead group activities that increase knowledge and comprehension of the story’s main ideas; solicit related connections and prompt discussion from the group.

As a culminating experience, during the summer of 2014, the book club could journey to New York for the Harlem Book Fair in July. Please note that *two of the authors of The Griot’s Green Groves’ book list, were panelists at the 2010 Book Fair. There is also a plethora of restaurants and historical walking tours of New York, depicted in some of the suggested readings.



Prospective members will be able to sign up for the book club for an announced membership registration period, and then the highly promoted registration, will be closed to 15 first come, first serve newly registered members. Members who may contribute dues (TBA) will be allowed to miss only two meetings before their membership is revoked. Members are required to attend all the meetings and to stay for the duration of the entire meeting. Members are encouraged to be punctual for the monthly Saturday meetings, to be held at 10:00 or 11:00am.
Group leader suggests, Griot’s Green Grove Book members, who can, might contribute to one or more of the following expenses.

 1) Very minimal monthly dues of $10.00

2) Monthly breakfast or brunch/refreshments provided by a group member. Whom-ever hosts will not pay dues for that particular month.

3) Culminating field trip expenses, T.B.A.

Book acquisition should also be considered in this section. The group leader suggests getting books from the library, Amazon.com or EBay at discounted prices. Barnes and Nobles may even be able to order these books on discount, if they do not have the book or a discount handy.



Set in two privileged worlds: the upper crust African American society of the Eastern seaboard—families who summer at Martha’s Vineyard—and the inner circle of an Ivy League law school. Talcott Garland is a successful law professor, devoted father, and husband of a beautiful and ambitious woman, whose future desires may threaten the family he holds so dear. When Talcott’s father, Judge Oliver Garland, a disgraced former Supreme Court nominee, is found dead under suspicious circumstances, Talcott wonders if he may have been murdered. Guided by the elements of a mysterious puzzle that his father left, Talcott must risk his marriage, his career and even his life in his quest for justice


When Tristão Raposo, a black nineteen-year-old from the Rio slums, and Isabel Leme, an eighteen-year-old upper-class white girl, meet on Copacabana Beach, their flight from family and into marriage takes them to the farthest reaches of Brazil’s phantasmagoric western frontier. Privation, violence, captivity, and reversals of fortune afflict them, yet this latter-day Tristan and Iseult cling to the faith that each is the other’s fate for life. Spanning twenty-two years, from the sixties through the eighties, Brazil surprises with its celebration of passion, loyalty, romance, and New World innocence.



Things Fall Apart tells two intertwining stories, both centering on Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first, a powerful fable of the immemorial conflict between the individual and society, traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world. The second, as modern as the first is ancient, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo's world with the arrival of aggressive European missionaries. These perfectly harmonized twin dramas are informed by awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul.


Set against the historically rich geography of Harlem, Johnson's smart thriller offers fine writing, a sometimes wacky but compelling story, and an absorbing social history of "the most romanticized ghetto in the world." Three ex-cons are invited to join Horizon Realty's Second Chance Program by becoming interns at the real estate office: Cedric Snowden, who has served time for manslaughter; arsonist Bobby Finley; and tough thug Horus Manley. After a year learning the secrets of the real estate business, one member of this trio will be rewarded with a free historic brownstone to remodel on his own. In the meantime, their day-to-day job is to move desirable African-American tenants (read: professionals) into the apartments of various impoverished lowlifes who have recently met with untimely fatal accidents. Sexy local crime reporter Piper Goines helps Snowden see that these are not accidents--they're part of Horizon's secret plan for revitalizing Harlem. Johnson, who probed the advertising world in his first novel, Drop, uses offbeat characters, zany humor and historical information to examine the ethics of gentrification and the problems of poor urban neighborhoods. The ending may seem ambiguous and over-the-top to some, but it is certainly thought provoking.


Jan Karon is the author of the bestselling series of nine Mitford novels featuring Father Timothy Kavanagh, an Episcopal priest, and the fictional village of Mitford. Set in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Karon's Mitford books include At Home in Mitford; A Light in the Window; These High, Green Hills; Out to Canaan; A New Song; A Common Life: The Wedding Story; In This Mountain; Shepherd's Abiding; and Light from Heaven. The Father Tim Novels



Warm, feisty, and intelligent, the Delany sisters speak their mind in a book that is at once a vital historical record and a moving portrait of two remarkable women who continued to love, laugh, and embrace life after over a hundred years of living side by side. Their sharp memories show us the post-Reconstruction South and Booker T. Washington; Harlem's Golden Age and Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Paul Robeson. Bessie breaks barriers to become a dentist; Sadie quietly integrates the New York City system as a high school teacher. Their extraordinary story makes an important contribution to our nation's heritage—and an indelible impression on our lives.



As Marilyn approaches middle age, we follow her struggle to discover herself outside the constraints of a passionless marriage, a demanding family and an ever-growing list of dreams deferred. With three children in college, a husband who suffers from destructive professional and personal inertia, a demanding mother-in-law, a senile mother and a drug-addicted sister, Marilyn has more on her plate than she expected at this stage of the game. Torn between taking care of her friends and family and attending to her own needs, she's faced with choices, like deciding to finish her graduate degree, that never before seemed hers to make. Along the way, supporting characters like Marilyn's feisty little niece and supportive-yet-opinionated best friends Paulette and Bunny add humor and depth to our heroine's character. And as always, McMillan does a flawless job of incorporating humor into even the most traumatic situations, as evidenced by a scene in which Marilyn ends up babysitting her hairdresser's children while waiting twelve hours for new braids. ("At three, Blue has to make a run. Orange has to go to the bank to get a money order. I ask Lexus to find me a Pamper and I take the baby in the bathroom.")



Rafael Molinet Rojas, an inconspicuous Spaniard living in London, regrettably finds that there is nothing worth living for when his closest companion–his mother–dies. Hoping to make a dignified–and, although he won’t admit it, dramatic–exit from this world, Molinet plots his escape, picking an elegant setting for his suicide via sleeping pills: Morocco’s L’Hirondelle d’Or, one of the most luxurious resorts in the world. There, he will be able to forget his cares, drape himself in a white caftan, and try to make a little money playing backgammon before he does himself in. The day before his trip, Molinet has a lunch date with his vivacious niece–who enthralls him with the story of a scandalous and deeply suspicious death.



Nestor Chaffino, pastry chef to the rich and famous, makes a fatal mistake. At 4:00 in the morning, following a successful dinner party, he walks into the Westinghouse cool room to store the left-over chocolate truffles. However, he fails to employ the safety mechanism that would prevent the door from closing behind him. Which it does. The question is though; did it swing to of its own accord?
During the first chapter we are trapped with the chef as he struggles unsuccessfully to survive in minus 20 degrees. Thereafter, we move from the corpse in the cool room to the skeletons in the closet. 



Rural Mississippi in the 1960s stood in the midst of the civil rights movement. Social changes began in black churches. Essie Lee Lane, a small-town girl who is faithful to her church and loyal to her family, meets the man of her dreams in an unlikely encounter. The Reverend Theophilus Henry Simmons is an eligible pastor, as smitten with Essie as she is with him. After they begin a long-distance courtship between Mississippi and Tennessee, the couple decides to marry. They soon find that the blessing of being the “first couple” comes with challenges from the local church and the national denomination. The secular issues of greed, sex, misconduct, money, and politics are as evident and dangerous in the church as outside. These human failings cause the Summonses to struggle with their roles as husband and wife as well as church leaders. The Reverend Mr. Simmons is faced with taking a stand that will forever separate him from the ordinary and make the church congregation proud. Accepting this assignment becomes a test of his faith and the steppingstone for his future.



The Space Between Us, Thrity Umrigar's poignant novel about a wealthy woman and her downtrodden servant, offers a revealing look at class and gender roles in modern day Bombay. Alternatively told through the eyes of Sera, a Parsi widow whose pregnant daughter and son-in-law share her elegant home, and Bhīma, the elderly housekeeper who must support her orphaned granddaughter, Umrigar does an admirable job of creating two sympathetic characters whose bond goes far deeper than that of employer and employee.

When we first meet Bhīma, she is sharing a thin mattress with Maya, the granddaughter, upon whom high hopes and dreams were placed, only to be shattered by an unexpected pregnancy and its disastrous consequences. As time goes on, we learn that Sera and her family have used their power and money time and time again to influence the lives of Bhīma and Maya, from caring for Bhīma’s estranged husband after a workplace accident, to providing the funds for Maya's college education. We also learn that Sera's seemingly privileged life is not as it appears; after enduring years of cruelty under her mother-in-law's roof, she faced physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her husband, pain that only Bhīma could see and alleviate. Yet through the triumphs and tragedies, Sera and Bhīma always shared a bond that transcended class and race; a bond shared by two women whose fate always seemed to rest in the hands of others, just outside their control.
Told in a series of flashbacks and present day encounters, The Space Between Us gains strength from both plot and prose. A beautiful tale of tragedy and hope, Umrigar's second novel is sure to linger in readers' minds.



With her eponymous anti-heroine, debut novelist McFadden breaks the mold of a venerable stereotype. Here, the hooker with a heart of gold is instead a hooker with a past so tarnished no amount of polishing can change her fate. As a baby, Sugar is abandoned by her mother and raised by a trio of prostitutes who run an Arkansas bordello. Turning tricks at age 12, and leaving town four years later to try her luck in St. Louis and then Detroit, brings more degradation, along with an ever-hardening heart. Upon her mother's death in 1955, Sugar is willed a modest home in Bigelow, Ark., but when she moves into town, and supports herself the only way she knows, the female population rises in wrath against her; all except Pearl, Sugar's next-door neighbor, who more than a decade ago lost her beloved daughter, Jude, to a vicious rapist/murderer. Pearl is struck by Sugar's uncanny likeness to Jude, and is determined to become Sugar's friend in spite of vocal disapproval. Although the two women are opposites in nearly every way, they bring out the best in each other: Sugar convinces Pearl to loosen up and accompany her to a Saturday night juke joint, and Sugar promises to go to church for two months of Sundays. Hypocritical gossip spreads among the townsfolk and tension grows when it turns out that nearly every married man in Bigelow pays a visit to Sugar, leaving the apparently frigid wives planning to run Sugar out of town. Pearl gives it her best shot to transform Sugar, but both women's painful pasts come back to haunt them in a crescendo of violent reenactments, betrayals and surprising revelations leading to a poignant, bittersweet ending. While hampered by a forced and compressed back-story, a surfeit of maudlin moments and some overwriting that is inadvertently funny, this ambitious first novel will appeal to readers who can appreciate Sugar's determination to come to terms with her past and fashion a viable future.


In a heartfelt sequel to her critically acclaimed debut, Sugar, McFadden follows Sugar as she attempts to heal her physical and emotional wounds. In the winter of 1955, Sugar Lacey leaves her man, the evil Lappy Clayton, in Bigelow, Ark., to return to Short Junction only 10 miles, but a world away. The Lacey sisters, who raised Sugar from birth and employed her in their house of ill repute, welcome her back and answer her questions about her parents. When all three sisters die, Sugar receives her inheritance, and would live comfortably if not for the ghosts of the past that won't leave her in peace. Finally, in 1965, she is drawn to St. Louis to seek out her old friend Mary. Appalled to discover that Mary's home has become a heroin den and her granddaughter a junkie, Sugar bravely and selflessly tries to save the young girl. This ordeal and a subsequent bus trip to Bigelow featuring a harrowing episode of racial intimidation are the best scenes in the novel as McFadden captures the horrors of drug addiction and the zeitgeist of a racist south.


Sundaresan’s portrayal of the caste system, racism and culture is vivid as she returns to her native India for a sprawling story of forbidden love set against the backdrop of WWII and the struggle for Indian independence. U.S. Army Capt. Sam Hawthorne comes to the small kingdom of Rudrakot in the Sukh desert of western India, ostensibly to recover from an injury suffered during a rescue mission behind Japanese lines in Burma. Sam has secrets, however. He's a spy, a member of the fledgling OSS, and he's looking for his brother Mike, who disappeared while serving in a local regiment, the Rudrakot Rifles, where "even his name was false." Complicating matters, Sam has a brief but torrid affair with Mila, the daughter of the kingdom's Indian political agent, who is betrothed to the local prince. As Sam plots to free his brother from a nearby detention center, Mila's brother Ashok becomes involved in a nationalist plot to bomb the car of the local British representative in Rudrakot. Sundaresan renders Rudrakot vividly and the sympathetic (if doomed) characters generate enough friction to keep the pot boiling.



Los Angeles, l945: When Hosanna Clark, newly arrived from the farm fields of Texas, befriends Holocaust survivor Gilda Rosenstein, she opens the door to a new life for them both. Using Gilda's knowledge of cosmetics and Hosanna's energy and determination, they begin producing a line of lipsticks and lotions for black women. The two are more than partners: They are dear friends.

Then Gilda suddenly disappears, taking all the assets. Hosanna is doubly betrayed: financially ruined and emotionally bereft. When, years later, she passes away, her small cosmetics company dies with her. But Hosanna leaves behind a daughter steeped in her mother's pain: Matriece is as smart and driven as her mother and savvy enough to recognize that white firms are competing not only for black consumer dollars but for black professional talent as well. When Gilda's huge cosmetics conglomerate hires her to launch a line of black beauty products, Matriece takes on a mission to collect her mother's debt.

“What You Owe Me” is a stunning account of the changes we have seen in white attitudes toward blacks, but it is also a sensitive look at what betrayal—of friendship, of love—does to us all. Ultimately, it is a moving book about healing. As Emerge magazine acknowledged, "Campbell's writings are a beacon of light, helping assuage the anger by tending our deepest wounds."



 In this engaging coming-of-age novel by a new black writer, young Lena McPherson leads a charmed life, secure in her family and in the world Ansa evokes. Born in 1949 in a private blacks-only hospital in rural Georgia, Lena is the third child and longed-for first daughter of Nellie and Jonah, who own the local bar and liquor store. Considered "special" because she was born with a call, believed to bestow sight into the future, Lena learns as a toddler that her special powers have more to do with the past: she can see and talk with ghosts. Despite her extraordinary talent, Lena is most memorable for the ordinariness of her everyday life. Following Lena's first friendships, her years at school, her observations of her parents' sometimes-stormy relationship, her grief at her grandmother's death, Ansa beautifully renders Lena's stable, well-off world. Readers get a view of middle-class black small-town life in the relatively placid mid-century, a time when a grandmother scorns the black families who vacation at the beach, and where a little girl often feels her life is dictated solely by demands that she keep her hair dry and combed. Ansa's thorough and affectionate portrait marks her as a writer of both promise and achievement.



 This novel is a sequel to Tina McElroy Ansa's Baby of the Family, in which readers were introduced to her heroine, Lena McPherson. Lena was born with a call over her face, a fold of skin that, according to the elderly of Mulberry, Georgia, promises good fortune. Indeed, Lena is blessed--and cursed--with the ability to read minds, a gift that has fueled her commercial prosperity and her numerous community projects but has also, she feels, stifled her romantic life. It's hard to fall in love with a man whose meanest thoughts are plain to you, Lena finds. The author's solution to Lena's dilemma is a ghost: Herman, who has been dead for a century but who still, has "plenty of life in him." This unlikely coupling--and couple they do, overcoming the usual obstacles to human-astral intercourse--leads to a kind of happiness for Lena as McElroy explores her fictional Southern world.



When a prominent but unpopular black magazine publisher is killed at the annual National Association of Black Journalists conference, there are plenty of directions for fingers to point--mostly at the spurned women and competing publishers that the victim has infuriated over the years. Alex Powell, a reporter familiar with many of the relevant players, is recruited along with a male acquaintance to help police with the case. Bates, a journalist herself, sets her first novel in a slew of glamorous hotels, glitzy restaurants, and posh office suites from Martha's Vineyard to Los Angeles. A bottle of champagne seems always at the ready as various members of dissect the victim’s life, as one character calls it, the "black boogie-woogie." The incessant cataloging of the impressive possessions, connections, and wardrobes of all and sundry is tiresome, but the characters themselves are well developed, and the dialogue is very smoothly written. Alex, despite her preoccupation with the material world, is a likable, smart-ass heroine, and readers will smile when she gets her villain--and her man--in the end.



Willow Springs is a sparsely populated sea island just off America's southeastern coast whose small black community is dominated by the elderly matriarch, Miranda "Mama" Day. When Mama Day's great-niece, Cocoa, marries, she returns to Willow Springs with her husband for an extended visit. Once there, strange forces both natural and supernatural work to separate the couple. After visiting the menacing Ruby, a local root doctor, Cocoa becomes dangerously ill, and the struggle for her life showcases Naylor's talent for descriptive prose. Though the novel as a whole fairly breathes with life, it is marred by the unintentionally comic death of a major character, who is attacked by a vicious chicken. This farm boy was not convinced.



Actor Underwood (Sex and the City, etc.) teams up with accomplished authors Due and Barnes to produce a seamlessly entertaining novel. Tennyson Hardwick—semi successful actor, ex-gigolo and incipient sleuth—has the mixed fortune to reconnect with rap superstar Aphrodite, a former client, for a night of more than just sex. The next day, she's found dead in a plastic bag with a split skull, and he's a suspect. To clear his name, Hardwick draws on all of his considerable assets: good looks and charm, a $2.5 million house inherited from a devoted client, martial arts skills (Barnes's stock in trade) and connections on both sides of the law. The authors have mixed up a cocktail of exotic elements—the sex for pay industry, the grind and glitz of Hollywood and the rap biz, a smart leavening of black film history—and topped it with a double shot of brutal murder. Handsome Ten Hardwick has not only a great back-story but also a very promising future.



Threatened with death after acquittal for murder, football superstar T. D. Jackson asks struggling actor and former gigolo Tennyson Hardwick for protection. Tennyson has a reputation in Hollywood after solving the murder of rapper Aphrodite, but politely turns Jackson down: His acting career is taking off with a new series, and he's trying to work out his personal life after a series of wrong turns.

But Tennyson's life is upturned when his seedy past catches up to him on the set of his TV series. Then T. D. Jackson is found dead in his home, the victim of an apparent suicide.

T.D.'s gorgeous cousin, Melanie, is sure the superstar was murdered, and Jackson's family offers Tennyson an irresistible fee to discover the truth. But prying into T. D. Jackson's death means answering the question that divided a nation and destroyed a film star and a football icon's life and career: Did T. D. Jackson kill his wife?

 When the investigation takes an unexpected turn toward the governor's mansion and a long-forgotten football game in the segregated South of the 1960s, Tennyson uncovers secrets tearing at the heart of two dynasties and must rely on all of his assets -- his actor's heart, deadly hands, profiler's mind, and every other part of his body -- to keep from dying next.




Devil in a Blue Dress. New York: Norton, c1990

Introduced as a newly unemployed defense plant worker in 1948, Easy Rawlins takes on his first case when he searches for the mysterious Daphne Monet, the mistress of a wealthy man that brings him into a dangerous game of corruption and crime. The help of his childhood friend, the murderous, avaricious, and charming Raymond "Mouse" Alexander is key to his success. At the end of the novel, Rawlins adopts a mute Mexican boy, Jesus, as his son.

A Red Death. Thorndike, Me.: Thorndike Press, 1993, c1991

Rawlins investigates an espionage problem at a major aircraft manufacturer. He is coerced by FBI agent Darryl T. Craxton, who knows that Easy's newly acquired real estate was bought with untaxed income, to prove that union organizer Chaim Wenzler is in fact a Communist. The story takes place in 1953.

White Butterfly. Thorndike, ME: Thorndike Press, 1993, c1992

 1956: A black LAPD detective named Quentin Naylor reluctantly taps Easy to investigate a serial killer's murdering spree. The killer has killed his first white woman, a UCLA coed who led a double life as a stripper. Rawlins ends up adopting the stripper's biracial baby girl, Feather, as his wife and daughter leave him.

Black Betty. New York: W.W. Norton, 1994

Meeting again the beautiful woman he was in love with when he was a kid back in Texas, Easy Rawlins investigate a complex inheritance feud. This story is set in 1961.

A Little Yellow Dog. New York: Norton, c1996

Investigating the murder of twin brothers, Easy Rawlins falls for a beautiful heroin smuggler. He meets Bonnie, his girlfriend for the following episodes. His friend Mouse appears to be mortally wounded in the end but his fate remains nebulous. The story, set in 1963, climaxes on November 22nd, the day of President John F. Kennedy's assassination. This is the first novel in which Easy is working by day as the plant manager at Sojourner Truth Junior High. He holds this job for three more years until the events depicted in Cinnamon Kiss.

Gone Fishin'. Baltimore: Black Classic, c1997

Recollection of Easy Rawlins' youth back in Texas, circa 1939, with his friend Mouse. Easy joins Mouse on a journey that results in murder. The plot is described briefly in Devil in a Blue Dress. This is the sole Rawlins novel that is not strictly speaking a mystery, but instead a bildungsroman.

Bad Boy Brawly Brown. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 2002

Looking for the estranged son of a friend, Easy Rawlins uncovers a plot to rob a bank. After being chased by killers, Easy Rawlins decides to give up smoking. It's 1964.

Six Easy Pieces. New York, N.Y.: Atria Books, c 2003

A short story collection. Equal time is given between the cases Easy solves and the evolving relationships in his life. The question of Raymond "Mouse" Alexander's fate is finally resolved. These stories are set during1964, as is Bad Boy Brawly Brown.

Little Scarlet. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 2004

After the Watts Riots of August 1965, Easy Rawlins investigates the murder of a woman called Little Scarlet. The LAPD hires Rawlins to investigate the crime since it could trigger another outburst of violence.

Cinnamon Kiss. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 2005

In 1966, the Summer of Love, Easy Rawlins is desperate to find money for the treatment of his adopted daughter, Feather, who is suffering from a rare and potentially life threatening condition. Initially, Easy considers pulling a heist with Mouse so he can pay for his daughter's treatment, but he declines the offer. Hired by an eccentric private investigator named Robert Lee, Easy sets out to find Philomena "Cinnamon" Cargill, the lover of a disappeared liberal lawyer with secrets harking back to World War II. The case takes him to Haight-Ashbury and Easy has his first encounter with the counterculture.

Blonde Faith

Set one year after the previous novel, Easy is no longer working a day job and does detective work full-time. He searches for the ex-Green Beret Christmas Black after his family takes in Black's adopted daughter Easter Dawn. His search brings him into conflict with servicemen who have become drug smugglers, a blonde femme fatale named Faith Laneer, and he must clear his childhood friend Mouse of murder. The novel's ending indicates that a future Easy Rawlins novel is highly unlikely, though not impossible.

Copyright 2009 Andre Keitt
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