As the daughters of immigrants, Ibi Zoboi’s 2017 release, American Street, touched us both with it’s representation of immigration, the perils and heartbreak of detainment, adjusting to life in the United States while learning to rely on yourself in new and unexpected ways. We were thrilled to discover that not only does Ibi have a tremendous backlist of short stories for us to discover, but she recently announced Pride, a love story inspired by Pride and Prejudice that takes place in Bushwick, New York, and also that she will be the editor of a compilation called Black Enough: Stories of Black Teenhood in America. Let’s find out more about Ibi, American Street and what books Ibi read that inspired Fabiola’s unforgettable story.
ABOUT IBI ZOBOI
Ibi Zoboi was born in Haiti and immigrated to New York with her mother when she was four years-old. Everything about her new home was both strange and magical. This is why she loves reading and writing science-fiction, fantasy, and mythology. And she loves love stories, too! Ibi wears lots of bright colors and is a huge fan of mangos, avocados, dry humor, long-winded storytellers, and modest skirts. She also smiles, laughs, and cries often—sometimes all at once. She lives in Brooklyn with her three children, her husband the art teacher, and three pet turtles named Lucky, Jade, and Leo. It’s a messy house.
ABOUT AMERICAN STREET
On the corner of American Street and Joy Road, Fabiola Toussaint thought she would finally find une belle vie—the good life. But after leaving Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Fabiola’s mother is detained by U.S. immigration, leaving Fabiola to navigate her loud, American cousins—Chantal, Donna and Princess—the grittiness of Detroit’s west side, a new school, and a surprising romance, all on her own. Just as she finds her footing in this strange new world, a dangerous proposition presents itself, and Fabiola must learn that freedom comes at a cost. Trapped at the crossroads of an impossible choice, will she pay the price for the American dream?
IBI’S BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS
The books that influenced me while I was writing American Street were:
Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat. I wanted to find the right poetic language to tell this story. Haitian Creole has lots of metaphors and proverbs. The words and ideas are layered. Of course, Edwidge Danticat does this with all her books. I needed to tap into Haitianess.
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. There’s a certain eery foreboding that I was trying to capture–a sense that the tragedies in the characters’ lives are a result of something more tragic and sinister. Even though this story takes place in the future and is dystopian, I needed to use some of those same elements to convey that there are tiny dystopias all around us.
Thank you for joining us in today’s Black History Month installment and to Ibi Zoboi for her time and words. We’ve got none other than Jay Coles coming up on Friday. Don’t forget to check out the FULL SCHEDULE and Brandy Colbert’s recommendations from last week!