the next good book

How to Say Babylon

By Safiya Sinclair

8/10
(8/10)

329 pages

What’s it about?

Safiya Sinclair is born in Jamaica to a strict Rastafarian father and a compliant mother.  Her father’s biggest fear is that she will be tainted by the outside world- or Babylon as he refers to it. He is so concerned with keeping Babylon outside the gates that he slowly smothers the family he keeps within the gates.  This memoir is about a child trying to find their way out of the strict confines of conservatism.

What did it make me think about?

Patriarchy

Should I read it?

I knew nothing about the Rastafarian culture and ignorantly assumed it was all love and ganja like Bob Marley.  From this book I now understand that it is also about black empowerment and male dominance. Safiya Sinclair is a poet and her lyrical writing is on full display in this memoir.  She can certainly weave some beautiful prose.  Her story is compelling- but I personally felt like it was slow going at times. Maybe all the lush writing at times bogged down the actual story. For me the most interesting and compelling figure in this story is her mother.  She was the person I was most interested in.  Maybe Safiya will write her mother’s story in a few years?   I would love to see how she feels about her upbringing, and both her parents, later in her life. Quote- “Walking behind her and behind her, I saw them- all the women who had put one foot in from to of the other and pushed their hands into the dirt. Women who had survived.  Women who had made me.”

What’s it about?

Safiya Sinclair is born in Jamaica to a strict Rastafarian father and a compliant mother.  Her father’s biggest fear is that she will be tainted by the outside world- or Babylon as he refers to it. He is so concerned with keeping Babylon outside the gates that he slowly smothers the family he keeps within the gates.  This memoir is about a child trying to find their way out of the strict confines of conservatism.

What did it make me think about?

Patriarchy

Should I read it?

I knew nothing about the Rastafarian culture and ignorantly assumed it was all love and ganja like Bob Marley.  From this book I now understand that it is also about black empowerment and male dominance. Safiya Sinclair is a poet and her lyrical writing is on full display in this memoir.  She can certainly weave some beautiful prose.  Her story is compelling- but I personally felt like it was slow going at times. Maybe all the lush writing at times bogged down the actual story. For me the most interesting and compelling figure in this story is her mother.  She was the person I was most interested in.  Maybe Safiya will write her mother’s story in a few years?   I would love to see how she feels about her upbringing, and both her parents, later in her life.

Quote-

“Walking behind her and behind her, I saw them- all the women who had put one foot in from to of the other and pushed their hands into the dirt. Women who had survived.  Women who had made me.”

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