Tag Archives: BIPOC Author

Wisdom From Kammbia Story Review 4: L’Alchimista by N.K. Jemisin

I have read a lot more short stories in the past year.  I have always considered short stories the stepchildren of contemporary fiction.  Novels are the alpha and omega for most contemporary fiction (literary & genre) readers.  Novellas (short novels between 20k-50k words) have become popular in the social media age.  But the average reader has never truly embraced short stories. I don’t exactly know why short stories have gotten the short end of the literary stick, but I have recently come to embrace the art form and add it to my regular reading diet.

I will review and post about short stories regularly, similar to what I have done with novels and non-fiction books. I have already read and reviewed Haven by Alice Munro (from her Dear Life collection), Speech Sounds by Octavia Butler (from her Bloodchild & Other Stories collection), & Timeskip by Charles de Lint (from his Dreams Underfoot collection) on my blog. All three are excellent stories worth reading and recommended.  Reading these stories has added versatility and a much-needed jolt to my reading life.  I believe short stories are a good entry point for non-readers to becoming readers.

My next short story review is L’Alchimista by N.K. Jemisin.  Jemisin is one of the biggest names in the science-fiction and fantasy genre in the past decade.  She has taken the mantle from the late Octavia Butler and become the Northstar for black women genre writers on the whole.  L’Alchimsta is a story from her How Long ‘Til Black Future Month collection. I read the entire short story collection last year and this story is my favorite by far.

L’Alchimista tells the story of Franca, a talented but frustrated chef working in a small Italian inn where she sees her career has come to a dead end.  However, a mysterious stranger comes to the inn and offers her to make an unusual dish that will test her abilities on several levels.  Franca agrees to make this unusual dish and the mysterious stranger is pleased with the chef deciding to take on the challenge.

She makes the dish, and the stranger is delighted with the result.  He offers her a new opportunity that will cause her to make a life-changing decision.  Does she accept his offer or reject it?  Read the story for yourself to find out.  However, I really enjoyed the story and Jemisin writes beautifully.  She adds a softness to her storytelling that belies her reputation as a feminist writer and social justice in her novels.  I could totally relate to Franca’s frustrations as a chef (and artist) and this paragraph sums up those feelings:

Once she had been at the top of her field: a certified master, a respected woman in a man’s profession, an artist with a promising career. One error of judgment had sentenced her to an endless purgatory of downscale, dead-end restaurants. She would not have minded that so much if the appreciation had not vanished along with the acclaim, but there it was: She was a better chef now than she’d been at the height of her career, and no one cared. Except one man.

As an artist (it does not matter the medium) you will get a lot of nos, but one yes can change everything.  Jemisin shows the time-honored principle at work in the story.  L’Alchimista is an excellent story and if you are foodie like myself, then you will connect to the story on a deeper level.  Bravo N.K. Jemisin!

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 90: Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez

“Lies have short legs.” That is the opening sentence of Furia by Yamile Saied Mendez.  Camila Hassan says this proverb and opens a window into her double life as an Argentinian high school student by day and a Futbol player known as Furia after school.  Camila has kept her secret of playing Futbol from her… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 89: Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I’ve had my eye on Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s work over the past several years. I downloaded her first novel, Signal to Noise, on my Kindle a couple of years ago and her fourth novel, Mexican Gothic, I have seen throughout social media recently.  Moreno-Garcia’s work has been popular for some time. Gods of Jade and Shadow… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 87: How Long ‘Til Black Future Month by N.K. Jemisin

I have a question for readers.  Has there been an author or authors you have tried repeatedly to read? N.K. Jemisin has been one of those authors for me. Jemisin has gained recognition in the science fiction and fantasy genre over the past several years with groundbreaking works like the Broken Earth and Dreamblood series.… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 86: The Moon Lady by Amy Tan

Over the past weekend, I watched author Amy Tan’s Netflix Documentary: Unintended Memoir.  The documentary focused on the family relationships (especially with her mother) that helped form her art. I had read none of Amy Tan’s books before and the documentary gave me insight into how she became the writer that is beloved by readers… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 60: Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older

What if your family tried to keep their connection to a powerful magic away from you? What happens when you find out that your family is connected to that magic for years? Sierra Santiago learns about her family’s connection to a powerful magic in Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older, the first book of the Shadowshaper… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 58: Alburquerque by Rudolfo Anaya

One of the great joys of reading fiction is when you get a novel that makes want to read on after you finished it.  There are a lot of novels I have enjoyed reading, but once I close the book or eBook (these days) then I’m done with it.  Well, Alburquerque by Rudolfo Anaya is… Continue Reading

Wisdom From Kammbia Book Review 57: Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera

Signs Preceding The End of The World by Yuri Herrera is the first novel about the US-Mexico Border I can remember reading.  I read Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy years ago but it did not deal directly with the current issues about the border. This book came to my attention during the controversy surrounding the novel… Continue Reading