Asali Solomon: The Days of Afrekete
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, inspired by Mrs. Dalloway, Sula, and Audre Lorde’s Zami. Solomon will be interviewed by fellow award-winning writer Rebecca Makkai. This program will be hosted online via Zoom, register here for the program.
More about The Days of Afrekete:
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.
Praise for The Days of Afrekete:
A Most Anticipated Book of 2021: The Millions, Lit Hub
A Most Anticipated Book of the Fall: Vulture, The Boston Globe
“The Days of Afrekete is so elegant and fresh, so sophisticated and modern, I didn’t feel like I was reading this novel—I felt like I was living it. I loved every minute.”
—Ann Patchett, author of The Dutch House
“The Days of Afrekete by Asali Solomon is a taut study of doubleness and marital ruin that kept me up all night. Solomon is precise and tender, even as she deals with lurid, human sins and the terror of critical mass—that it is inevitable, and that despite our need to travel backward, it cannot be undone.”
—Raven Leilani, The Guardian
“The Days of Afrekete is a subtle, unique novel about the power of feeling between young women, and how even seemingly ephemeral relationships can affect a life across decades of personal and social change. It is a haunting and redemptive story.”
—Mary Gaitskill, author of This is Pleasure
ASALI SOLOMON’S first novel, Disgruntled, was a best book of the year at the San Francisco Chronicle and The Denver Post. Her first book, 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’s The Daily, McSweeney’s, and several anthologies, and on NPR. Solomon teaches fiction writing and literature of the African diaspora at Haverford College. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she lives there with her husband and two sons.
REBECCA MAKKAI is the Chicago-based author of the novels The Great Believers, The Hundred-Year House, and The Borrower, as well as the short story collection Music for Wartime. The Great Believers was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and received the ALA Carnegie Medal and the LA Times Book Prize, among other honors. Makkai is on the MFA faculties of Sierra Nevada College and Northwestern University, and she is Artistic Director of StoryStudio Chicago.