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A Drop of Midnight: A Memoir

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World-renowned hip-hop artist Jason “Timbuktu” Diakité’s vivid and intimate journey through his own and his family’s history—from South Carolina slavery to twenty-first-century Sweden. Born to interracial American parents in Sweden, Jason Diakité grew up between worlds—part Swedish, American, black, white, Cherokee, Slovak, and German, riding a delicate cultural and rac World-renowned hip-hop artist Jason “Timbuktu” Diakité’s vivid and intimate journey through his own and his family’s history—from South Carolina slavery to twenty-first-century Sweden. Born to interracial American parents in Sweden, Jason Diakité grew up between worlds—part Swedish, American, black, white, Cherokee, Slovak, and German, riding a delicate cultural and racial divide. It was a no-man’s-land that left him in constant search of self. Even after his hip-hop career took off, Jason fought to unify a complex system of family roots that branched across continents, ethnicities, classes, colors, and eras to find a sense of belonging.In A Drop of Midnight, Jason draws on conversations with his parents, personal experiences, long-lost letters, and pilgrimages to South Carolina and New York to paint a vivid picture of race, discrimination, family, and ambition. His ancestors’ origins as slaves in the antebellum South, his parents’ struggles as an interracial couple, and his own world-expanding connection to hip-hop helped him fashion a strong black identity in Sweden.What unfolds in Jason’s remarkable voyage of discovery is a complex and unflinching look at not only his own history but also that of generations affected by the trauma of the African diaspora, then and now.


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World-renowned hip-hop artist Jason “Timbuktu” Diakité’s vivid and intimate journey through his own and his family’s history—from South Carolina slavery to twenty-first-century Sweden. Born to interracial American parents in Sweden, Jason Diakité grew up between worlds—part Swedish, American, black, white, Cherokee, Slovak, and German, riding a delicate cultural and rac World-renowned hip-hop artist Jason “Timbuktu” Diakité’s vivid and intimate journey through his own and his family’s history—from South Carolina slavery to twenty-first-century Sweden. Born to interracial American parents in Sweden, Jason Diakité grew up between worlds—part Swedish, American, black, white, Cherokee, Slovak, and German, riding a delicate cultural and racial divide. It was a no-man’s-land that left him in constant search of self. Even after his hip-hop career took off, Jason fought to unify a complex system of family roots that branched across continents, ethnicities, classes, colors, and eras to find a sense of belonging.In A Drop of Midnight, Jason draws on conversations with his parents, personal experiences, long-lost letters, and pilgrimages to South Carolina and New York to paint a vivid picture of race, discrimination, family, and ambition. His ancestors’ origins as slaves in the antebellum South, his parents’ struggles as an interracial couple, and his own world-expanding connection to hip-hop helped him fashion a strong black identity in Sweden.What unfolds in Jason’s remarkable voyage of discovery is a complex and unflinching look at not only his own history but also that of generations affected by the trauma of the African diaspora, then and now.

30 review for A Drop of Midnight: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Hope

    Powerful, visceral, engaging. This was one of those ‘universes aligning’ things...when an old white woman stumbles across a book by a young Black Swedish rapper, and even more improbably, is intrigued and decides to read it. And pretty much read it straight through without stopping. This is a strong, raw, urgent book. I have been moved - perhaps changed - by it. And I will be pondering those things for some time to come. I might even listen to some Swedish rap.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Abbie | ab_reads

    (#gifted @amazonpublishing) I wasn't familiar with Jason Diakité when Amazon Crossing very kindly gifted me a box of their latest translated offerings, but I was instantly interested in his memoir when I read the synopsis. Born in Sweden to a white mother and a Black father, he grew up Swedish, American, Black, white, with Cherokee, Slavic and German roots too. Even after his career as a rapper took off, 'Timbuktu' still didn't feel like he'd got to grips with his sense of self. Diakité decided (#gifted @amazonpublishing) I wasn't familiar with Jason Diakité when Amazon Crossing very kindly gifted me a box of their latest translated offerings, but I was instantly interested in his memoir when I read the synopsis. Born in Sweden to a white mother and a Black father, he grew up Swedish, American, Black, white, with Cherokee, Slavic and German roots too. Even after his career as a rapper took off, 'Timbuktu' still didn't feel like he'd got to grips with his sense of self. Diakité decided to go to America to find out more about his father's side of the family, travelling to South Carolina and New York to talk to relatives and learn more about his Black roots. . Translated from the Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles, I found this memoir slow to start but extremely compelling once Diakité gets further into his story. It's interesting to read a little bit about Blackness in a country that is not the US or the UK. I think a lot of white people see countries like Sweden and Norway as benign, happy places to live, but of course they have their own issues with racism, as Diakité learned growing up and always being one of the only Black or brown bodies in a room. . But the majority of the book is actually centred around the US and Diakité's family there. I learned a lot, for instance I wasn't aware of 'food deserts'. These are towns in the US where residents don't have easy access to fresh food (and often lots of fast food restaurants instead), leading to high obesity and diabetes rates among communities, very often Black communities. . Diakité does a really good job relaying the complexity of his family life, including frustrations over differences in political opinion. There were some places where I was confused about what time period we were in, but overall it's a great read (even though I always find it weird to call someone's memoir an enjoyable read - you know what I mean). . I think anyone who enjoyed Morgan Jerkins' Wandering in Strange Lands might enjoy this one too!

  3. 5 out of 5

    〰️Beth〰️

    Never spoilers The entire book meanders with vignettes of stories about Diakité’s family history. He really does not hit his writing flow until about a third of the way into the book. There is also some confusion at the beginning regarding 2015. I am not sure if it a typo but there seems to be a discrepancy in timing (nit picky maybe but I found it confusing enough to go back and reread the first few chapters. Overall it is a wonderful introspection of a man trying to find and accept his identity. Never spoilers The entire book meanders with vignettes of stories about Diakité’s family history. He really does not hit his writing flow until about a third of the way into the book. There is also some confusion at the beginning regarding 2015. I am not sure if it a typo but there seems to be a discrepancy in timing (nit picky maybe but I found it confusing enough to go back and reread the first few chapters. Overall it is a wonderful introspection of a man trying to find and accept his identity. Being 2/5 African-American 2/5 European-American and 1/5 Native-American growing up in Sweden. The book focuses on his African-American heritage. I would have liked more on his Native American ancestors and even his European American’s immigration. I know it is hard to find records for slaves and natives so there are things he may never find. It was interesting to see the evolution of African American history thru the lens of someone growing up in Scandinavia. I would definitely recommend this book

  4. 4 out of 5

    Brian Andrews

    Fascinating book that tells stories from Diakite's own life, his parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Drives home the point that racism and slavery have an on-going effect. Made me think about how I'm a product of my parents, who were strongly influenced by their parents . . . and so on. Then you do the math and realize that Diakite's family tree is, relatively speaking, recently affected by slavery and racism. And not just that, but how the oppressors' upbringing is "recently affected" Fascinating book that tells stories from Diakite's own life, his parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Drives home the point that racism and slavery have an on-going effect. Made me think about how I'm a product of my parents, who were strongly influenced by their parents . . . and so on. Then you do the math and realize that Diakite's family tree is, relatively speaking, recently affected by slavery and racism. And not just that, but how the oppressors' upbringing is "recently affected" by slavery and racism - they're carrying on what they learned from their ancestors. Is it any wonder racism is such an issue in the U.S. (and worldwide)? It really wasn't that long ago that the events related in this book happened - whites killing blacks with no repercussions, blacks as second class citizens under the (white) law of the land, blacks as sharecroppers, and going all the way back (actually not that long ago) to blacks being slaves. I recently argued with an acquaintance that he is culturally ignorant, because he thought everyone has the same opportunity and are in the same position to succeed. I argued that just by being white and raised middle class, he has an advantage. Reading this book, doing the math on timing, and realizing how much my parents influenced me (and theirs before them) clarified further for me that we don't all have it the same. We don't have the same opportunities. Culture and history definitely impact us. This book isn't preachy - the (true) stories are interesting. But you connect the dots and it is enlightening (at least for me). Only 4 stars because the narrative drifts during the last 1/3 of the book.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Josefin Nordlander

    I picked this book because I wanted to learn more about racism in Sweden. Turns out the book focuses on US history, although not the reason for my rating. The narrative is jumpy, incoherent and at times even repetitative. It makes it difficult to keep a timeline. As others mention there is a lot of namedropping without any summary of the various authors work or any further reading suggestions. Diakité mentions a meeting with Black Lives Matter activist Mckesson without rewarding him a single quo I picked this book because I wanted to learn more about racism in Sweden. Turns out the book focuses on US history, although not the reason for my rating. The narrative is jumpy, incoherent and at times even repetitative. It makes it difficult to keep a timeline. As others mention there is a lot of namedropping without any summary of the various authors work or any further reading suggestions. Diakité mentions a meeting with Black Lives Matter activist Mckesson without rewarding him a single quote. He will however let an octogenarian rant for pages about his love for Trump, Putin and ISIS. Regarding his descriptions of Ms Alluette I can just recommend he reads "Jordens Herrar". For an interesting read about etnicity and identity that takes place in Sweden I recommend Marjaneh Bakhtiari's "Kan du säga schibbolet?". I'm sure there are far more enlightened narratives on US history out there. The search continues...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Annie Woods

    Jason “Timbuktu” Diakité is a Swedish hip-hop artist, who grew up with a mixed heritage leaving him in a no-man’s land in constant search for himself. This heartfelt, vivid, raw and superbly written memoir follows Jason on a journey where he strives to find his roots, understand his multicultural self and find his place in the world. Through conversations with his parents, long-lost letters and pilgrimages in his ancestors’ footsteps, this memoir spans from the cotton fields South Carolina slave Jason “Timbuktu” Diakité is a Swedish hip-hop artist, who grew up with a mixed heritage leaving him in a no-man’s land in constant search for himself. This heartfelt, vivid, raw and superbly written memoir follows Jason on a journey where he strives to find his roots, understand his multicultural self and find his place in the world. Through conversations with his parents, long-lost letters and pilgrimages in his ancestors’ footsteps, this memoir spans from the cotton fields South Carolina slavery via Harlem, New York, to twenty-first Sweden. This book is such a raw and honest eye-opener to race, discrimination and how today’s generation is still affected by the ancestors’ trauma, but also a beautiful portrait of Jason’s family members, especially his father, and their relationship. It’s a book that will stay with me for a long time and that I recommend with all my heart.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kela Calvin

    Liberating!!! I loved this memoir!!! I usually don't read memoirs, but this piqued my interest. The loved how the author was able to trace his family lineage through travels, interviews and conversation with family. Through his life experiences, he has learned to embrace his ethnic backgrounds and skin color. This novel was truly unique. Great read!!! Liberating!!! I loved this memoir!!! I usually don't read memoirs, but this piqued my interest. The loved how the author was able to trace his family lineage through travels, interviews and conversation with family. Through his life experiences, he has learned to embrace his ethnic backgrounds and skin color. This novel was truly unique. Great read!!!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Donna Bijas

    4 stars. What started as a simile ridden memoir, ended with an uplifting dialogue by the author who was half White, half Swedish, half American and half Black. He talks about the guilt and dysfunction leveled on him and his family for generations and centuries. At least in Sweden where he resided most of his life he was able to work and live and love as he wanted. He and his parents, who did divorce, remained a big part of his life. The end of the book was wonderful where Jason states “My roots 4 stars. What started as a simile ridden memoir, ended with an uplifting dialogue by the author who was half White, half Swedish, half American and half Black. He talks about the guilt and dysfunction leveled on him and his family for generations and centuries. At least in Sweden where he resided most of his life he was able to work and live and love as he wanted. He and his parents, who did divorce, remained a big part of his life. The end of the book was wonderful where Jason states “My roots which make my skin anything but White and my hair not totally straight. It’s those drops of midnight that make all the difference.”

  9. 4 out of 5

    Nick Carey

    Unsatisfactory I began this book hoping to learn about the mixed heritage of the author. It became a book I had to force myself to finish. The author almost completely ignored his Slovak and Cherokee heritage - he seems to only want to focus on his black forebears. He describes their experiences ,but they are theirs, not his. Throughout, there was a self-pitying attitude, and a coldness that made it difficult to feel any rapport with the author. He is very critical of others, but tolerant of hims Unsatisfactory I began this book hoping to learn about the mixed heritage of the author. It became a book I had to force myself to finish. The author almost completely ignored his Slovak and Cherokee heritage - he seems to only want to focus on his black forebears. He describes their experiences ,but they are theirs, not his. Throughout, there was a self-pitying attitude, and a coldness that made it difficult to feel any rapport with the author. He is very critical of others, but tolerant of himself. His descriptions of his road trips to the US deliver occasional insights. There is a fair amount of name-dropping of authors and activists.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Warren

    "...I think about how every human, from the time they’re born until the time they die, is a universe of memories, dreams, plans, sorrows, desires, and convictions." This book is beautiful and heartbreaking and uplifting all at once. Hearing things from Jason's perspective, learning about his family and upbringing, and the struggles that they endured filled me with so many emotions. Just read the damn book. And Jason, if you ever read this, thank you for sharing your story. If I can make one reques "...I think about how every human, from the time they’re born until the time they die, is a universe of memories, dreams, plans, sorrows, desires, and convictions." This book is beautiful and heartbreaking and uplifting all at once. Hearing things from Jason's perspective, learning about his family and upbringing, and the struggles that they endured filled me with so many emotions. Just read the damn book. And Jason, if you ever read this, thank you for sharing your story. If I can make one request of you, I ask that you get your dad's book republished so we can all hear the story of his childhood. You reference his book a few times, and I'd love to read it. Thanks again, and I hope you'll continue to write.

  11. 5 out of 5

    John Hatley

    This is one of the most unusual books I have ever read. After reading in the past year or two books by American authors Ta-Nehisi Coates, Paul Beatty and James Baldwin, I was amazed by this book not least because it tells the same story, but this time the story is being told by Swedish author Jason Diakité. It is the same story, but it is also a very different story. Every human being is unique. Read it!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I Think this was a a very intresting book. the way it jumps between stories bit Always moving forward. the part of reflection over life colors and diffrent ways of interaction. it was a book that made me reflect on behavior and thougts.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Claire Frances

    This book is very good! Jason Diakité is a Swedish rapper and songwriter. His parents are Americans but his father is Black and his mother is white. Before he published this book, he asked himself, "who are my people? Where is my home?" Diakité traveled to meet his family members to research more about his ancestors during slavery time, how his parents met and moved to Sweden, and stories about his ancestors during difficult times (slavery, Great Depression, struggles for freedom, etc.). Diakité This book is very good! Jason Diakité is a Swedish rapper and songwriter. His parents are Americans but his father is Black and his mother is white. Before he published this book, he asked himself, "who are my people? Where is my home?" Diakité traveled to meet his family members to research more about his ancestors during slavery time, how his parents met and moved to Sweden, and stories about his ancestors during difficult times (slavery, Great Depression, struggles for freedom, etc.). Diakité even mentioned police brutality and Black people's oppression by whites in USA and Sweden. For most of Diakité's life, he considered himself as half Swedish, half American, half white and half black. He was struggling with his identities in Sweden. His parents moved to Sweden before he was born. After he learned about his ancestors, he found his identities as well as he's both white and black, both Swedish and American, German, French, Slovak, African, and Cherokee. He stated, "According to this old-fashioned approach, my family tree might look like this: My dad is a Negro. Skin tone: coffee. He had me with a white woman, which makes me a mulatoo. Skin tone: coffee with milk. If I have a child with a white woman, the child will be classified as a quadroon. Skin tone: 3 Musketeers nougat. If that child grows up and falls in love with a white person and they decide to have a baby, my grandchild will be called an octoroon. Skin tone: faded khakis." I learned so much about Black people's ancestors, stories, cultures, and views in this book. Perfect time for people to read this book during this time. Black Lives Matter!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Feinen

    The author struggles with his self image - where does he belong? His parents are from the US - black father, white mother. They moved to Sweden shortly after their marriage - his father wanted to distance his future children from the US' treatment of people of color; to give them a chance at a life without racism, without judgmental misconceptions based on nothing more than the color of skin. He didn't escape racism - his stories regarding school are an amazing first hand account of not just bul The author struggles with his self image - where does he belong? His parents are from the US - black father, white mother. They moved to Sweden shortly after their marriage - his father wanted to distance his future children from the US' treatment of people of color; to give them a chance at a life without racism, without judgmental misconceptions based on nothing more than the color of skin. He didn't escape racism - his stories regarding school are an amazing first hand account of not just bullyism not addressed by teachers or administration but also you can't escape racism. Being one of the few people of color throughout his school year, Jason naturally built relationships with these students, strength, courage and positive experiences. Jason encourages his father to share his experiences in the US as a black man in the 1950's and 1960's. He also listens to his mother recount stories of NYC, a young impressionable social worker from Scranton, PA - no concept of the dangers of her job. Jason visits the southern states of the US with his friend, a director known for his stark imagery and truth telling. Jason hears stories about poor quality food, lack of social progress, racism still rampant behind closed doors and in the communities. Senseless acts of violence; police misuse of their guns, killing innocent black children. This book was published in 2016. The tragedy of this book - only increased, only heightened, only higher unrest. Brutal truth.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    As an American from the south currently living in Sweden, I read A Drop of Midnight with the hope of better understanding race and racism in Sweden. Diakité's memoir was helpful in that regard, in that it provides insights into at least one person's experience reckoning with their identity and heritage. At the same time, much of the book does focus on his experiences visiting family and friends in the US. Details of those experiences felt rather familiar to others I've read or heard about. In so As an American from the south currently living in Sweden, I read A Drop of Midnight with the hope of better understanding race and racism in Sweden. Diakité's memoir was helpful in that regard, in that it provides insights into at least one person's experience reckoning with their identity and heritage. At the same time, much of the book does focus on his experiences visiting family and friends in the US. Details of those experiences felt rather familiar to others I've read or heard about. In some ways, I found it most interesting to reflect on which information was necessary for a Swedish readership to understand about life in the US, especially in the south. The structure and organization of the book is confusing and jumps in focus from vignettes to broader generalizations to quotes from Black intellectuals. Diakité raises many good questions throughout the book but doesn't always follow through on exploring the questions fully. All that said, there seems to be a limited number of books exploring race and identity in Sweden (at least currently available in English). I'm very grateful that Diakité was willing to share his own experience with the broader public and add to this important conversation.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Katedurie50

    Like some other reviewers, I chanced upon this (in a special offer) knowing nothing of the author, or indeed of hip hop rapping, but found it a better and more stimulating read than I expected. Ultimately Diakite resolves the problem of his Swedish- American and black-white heritage (with other strains mixed in) by deciding he has to be fully both; but not before he has acknowledged the pain of racism, both for himself and his forbears. The book is particularly strong when he visits the South an Like some other reviewers, I chanced upon this (in a special offer) knowing nothing of the author, or indeed of hip hop rapping, but found it a better and more stimulating read than I expected. Ultimately Diakite resolves the problem of his Swedish- American and black-white heritage (with other strains mixed in) by deciding he has to be fully both; but not before he has acknowledged the pain of racism, both for himself and his forbears. The book is particularly strong when he visits the South and the kind of plantation on which his ancestors suffered. (The visitor experience is mostly that of flowing dresses and mint juleps on the verandah - only one plantation recreates the slave experience). He begins to understand that because the plantation systematically and brutally destroyed slave family bonds, the legacy shows up in the specific kinds of dysfunction found in some black families. His grandmother, Madame (always known as such), effectively kidnapped her four children and sent them off to Nigeria (where they were ill-treated) in order to get them out of Harlem. For years their father had no idea where they were. Thought-provoking.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Karna Converse

    A lesson about self-discovery and the amount of work it requires for some I don't listen to hip-hop music so was unfamiliar with Jason "Timbuktu" and his music; I chose this book because I was curious about his desire to learn about his biracial ancestral roots as he navigated his own search for self. His interest in family history begins in Sweden, the country where he was born and raised, but crosses the Atlantic Ocean to New York and South Carolina, the ancestral homes of his parents. Most int A lesson about self-discovery and the amount of work it requires for some I don't listen to hip-hop music so was unfamiliar with Jason "Timbuktu" and his music; I chose this book because I was curious about his desire to learn about his biracial ancestral roots as he navigated his own search for self. His interest in family history begins in Sweden, the country where he was born and raised, but crosses the Atlantic Ocean to New York and South Carolina, the ancestral homes of his parents. Most interesting are the trips he makes to the American South and considers racism in both the United States and Sweden—and both in terms of the past and the present. Diakité's memoir emphasizes that a family's history is so much more than just names and dates on a gravestone. I'd give it 3.5 stars if I could.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Dressel

    Beautiful, must read book for our time A truly well written and moving autobiography! I loved this book. I am an older white American woman and I just happened upon this book. I wasn't really expecting much--a book written by a hip hop artist? Read it! It's so meaningful, especially considering what is going on in the USA right now. I gained so much insight into Black lives in America through Jason's eyes. I thank him for this beautiful book! Beautiful, must read book for our time A truly well written and moving autobiography! I loved this book. I am an older white American woman and I just happened upon this book. I wasn't really expecting much--a book written by a hip hop artist? Read it! It's so meaningful, especially considering what is going on in the USA right now. I gained so much insight into Black lives in America through Jason's eyes. I thank him for this beautiful book!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ayanna Anderson

    Effective Personal Search Diakite shares a personal journey of the lives of three: his own, his father, and his grandfather’s, as he travels between two worlds to ultimately understand that they all share one common experience. I enjoyed how the memoir’s title takes shape towards the end of the text.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Daina (Dai2DaiReader)

    I love memoirs and I am so glad I came across this book! The way this story was told was so visual.  The author grew up in Sweden and has a successful hip-hop career but always wondered where he came from.  He takes the reader on the journey to discover his family’s history – going back to the days of slavery in South Carolina and his father’s beginnings in New York.  In tracing his roots, he also had several insightful conversations with his father and mother (an interracial couple).  It was ve I love memoirs and I am so glad I came across this book! The way this story was told was so visual.  The author grew up in Sweden and has a successful hip-hop career but always wondered where he came from.  He takes the reader on the journey to discover his family’s history – going back to the days of slavery in South Carolina and his father’s beginnings in New York.  In tracing his roots, he also had several insightful conversations with his father and mother (an interracial couple).  It was very interesting to come along for the ride as he searched for his sense of identity and belonging. I highly recommend this book!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ralph Guiteau

    Amazing story and an amazing life I have never heard of Jason Diakete but I feel like I know the man through this book. Like him I am biracial and went through a lot of what he did. I really liked his bio, it made me think, which is all I ask from a book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    If you enjoyed Trevor Noah's Born a Crime, please check out this wonderful memoir by Jason Diakité. He writes with a distinctive voice, engaging and lively, and oh, the stories he has to share. This memoir is a fascinating journey into a mix of unique cultures, and it was an eye-opening experience for me to see how someone born and raised in Sweden finds the American South on his travels. Spoiler alert: it isn't pretty. Several times while reading A Drop of Midnight, I laughed out loud. And once, If you enjoyed Trevor Noah's Born a Crime, please check out this wonderful memoir by Jason Diakité. He writes with a distinctive voice, engaging and lively, and oh, the stories he has to share. This memoir is a fascinating journey into a mix of unique cultures, and it was an eye-opening experience for me to see how someone born and raised in Sweden finds the American South on his travels. Spoiler alert: it isn't pretty. Several times while reading A Drop of Midnight, I laughed out loud. And once, I sobbed openly. This is a powerful work, and I'm very interested to see what else this promising writer has in store. And thanks for introducing me to Swedish rap music!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Katie Prater

    Great content, somewhat meandering Memoir being what it is, a critique of content is a critique of a life, and this was an interesting one to read. My greatest challenge was the structure of the book—globe and time hopping memoir interspersed with occasional academic references and self reflection, as well as sweeping deToqueville-esque assessments of the state of the US as a whole didn’t always flow. That, to my mind, is a fault in editing, not authorship. Each of the parts of the book should be Great content, somewhat meandering Memoir being what it is, a critique of content is a critique of a life, and this was an interesting one to read. My greatest challenge was the structure of the book—globe and time hopping memoir interspersed with occasional academic references and self reflection, as well as sweeping deToqueville-esque assessments of the state of the US as a whole didn’t always flow. That, to my mind, is a fault in editing, not authorship. Each of the parts of the book should be there, but not where they landed in the book, and that disjointedness made for something of a slog. I am also sad that I don’t speak Swedish, because there were certain brilliant turns of phrase in the book that made me think the unfiltered language of the Swedish probably smoothed some of the edges that tripped me.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Michele

    This book takes you on a tour of history, and views of historical events had by the author and his family. A drop of midnight, is as you've probably already surmised is speaking about the views of color and skin tone. He speaks of the various ideas, thoughts, and experiences that he and his family, friends, and people that he met along the way have had. It was interesting reading about his reasoning, and thoughts that he had from childhood to adulthood. The personal journey taken in his efforts t This book takes you on a tour of history, and views of historical events had by the author and his family. A drop of midnight, is as you've probably already surmised is speaking about the views of color and skin tone. He speaks of the various ideas, thoughts, and experiences that he and his family, friends, and people that he met along the way have had. It was interesting reading about his reasoning, and thoughts that he had from childhood to adulthood. The personal journey taken in his efforts to record his families story made me envious of the effort that he put in. He definitely saw things from multiple perspectives, and helped me to consider historical events from more than just my way of thinking, and I appreciated that. He also speaks about authors, music, politics, wars, etc, that in some cases reminded me of feelings that I had when I read some of the same books he mentions, and how I felt the first time that I heard a particular song. Overall, I loved the book and I will definitely read it again.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kristyl Harrison

    I really enjoyed this book, but there were also parts that I struggled to get through. As a white parent of a black child seeing how Daikite struggled with his racial identity has helped me further understand some of the issues my child may face. I know at times that it may seem like racism and segregation happened in the far off past, however Diakite shows that this isn't the case and we really are not that far removed from segregation and racism is still out there rearing its ugly head. I really enjoyed this book, but there were also parts that I struggled to get through. As a white parent of a black child seeing how Daikite struggled with his racial identity has helped me further understand some of the issues my child may face. I know at times that it may seem like racism and segregation happened in the far off past, however Diakite shows that this isn't the case and we really are not that far removed from segregation and racism is still out there rearing its ugly head.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    Must read! So good. I cannot begin to tell you how this book actually made me feel emotionally. The journey of discovery, the raw emotion, and the voice all made this book one I could not put down. I will revisit this one.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Colette Kern

    A not to miss memoir I am grateful that this wide ranging and brilliant memoir was translated from the Swedish . I hope it enjoys huge success in the US and in all English speaking countries. Mr. Diakite writes so beautifully and honestly about his own search for identity, and he has just the right amount of distance and closeness to describe the persistent racism in the US now. I loved his references to African American writers and icons from the past, and the way he weaves these in between his A not to miss memoir I am grateful that this wide ranging and brilliant memoir was translated from the Swedish . I hope it enjoys huge success in the US and in all English speaking countries. Mr. Diakite writes so beautifully and honestly about his own search for identity, and he has just the right amount of distance and closeness to describe the persistent racism in the US now. I loved his references to African American writers and icons from the past, and the way he weaves these in between his personal family story and his observations about culture . Definitely recommend.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rebekah

    This book was available as part of Amazon Prime's First Reads and I picked it up as my monthly pick. I think this is the first time I've actually read the book the same month I've bought it, but man this book was disappointing. Despite the fact that this book seems to insinuate that Diakite's journey of self-discovery across all parts of his mixed heritage, this is really only about Diakite getting in touch with and exploring his black and African family histories. But even so, the vast majority This book was available as part of Amazon Prime's First Reads and I picked it up as my monthly pick. I think this is the first time I've actually read the book the same month I've bought it, but man this book was disappointing. Despite the fact that this book seems to insinuate that Diakite's journey of self-discovery across all parts of his mixed heritage, this is really only about Diakite getting in touch with and exploring his black and African family histories. But even so, the vast majority of this book is actually just examining race in America versus race in Sweden, and the history of slavery, Jim Crow, the Civil Rights Movement, and modern movements like Black Lives Matter. I'm assuming this is for the purpose of educating an ignorant Swedish audience (since this book was first published in Swedish and in Sweden) but as an American reader, I found all of this to be quite dull and tedious. Diakite is also constantly quoting big chunks of texts from various black writers and intellectuals that align with whatever he's explaining at the moment. It feels like a dissertation about racism complete with citations as opposed to an emotional memoir. Amazingly, since so much of the book is cluttered up with unpacking the entire history of the black person in America, the actual memoir parts don't really land because I was too bored to care - and Diakite's family history does seem quite colorful. Unfortunately, I think this book gives a bad impression of Diakite's family and as mean as this sounds, I didn't like these people. (From his white mother who was once so "woke" she thought she too was black, to his father who guilt-trips his son whenever he breathes, to the black extended family in Baltimore that places themselves above other blacks in the American hierarchy, to the black American expats living in Sweden and who really love Trump... I really didn't feel anything warm and fuzzy for this people.) I think this book probably made a big splash in Sweden, but as an American reader, I was very checked-out throughout this book. Ultimately disappointing.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Castro Riestra

    4.5 Looking to make sense of his identity as a biracial person, born to American parents, living in Sweden, Diakité sets out to investigate his family's history. His memories of growing up and living in Sweden provide a discerning account of racism and race relations in that predominantly white European country. It's a feeling of being not quite at home in his native country that turns Diakité's gaze towards the past and the United States. His father opposes this investigative urge, motivated by 4.5 Looking to make sense of his identity as a biracial person, born to American parents, living in Sweden, Diakité sets out to investigate his family's history. His memories of growing up and living in Sweden provide a discerning account of racism and race relations in that predominantly white European country. It's a feeling of being not quite at home in his native country that turns Diakité's gaze towards the past and the United States. His father opposes this investigative urge, motivated by powerful memories of the potent, omnipresent racism in the United States. This argument with his father raises questions about whether history is best forgotten, hidden away, or confronted, exposed to light. When Diakité travels to the United States, he visits several cities, meeting family members and activists. As he does so, he learns about and describes the history and present reality of African American oppression. Through his discussions with people of various different generations and circumstances, Diakité encounters the myriad ways people can and have responded to and grown under oppression and prejudice. As well as being about identity, racism, history, and family, this memoir is about Diakité's strained relationship with his father. Through learning more about the experiences that shaped his father's outlook on the world, Diakité comes to develop greater empathy for him. Perhaps my one, minor criticism of the book is that, given the range of viewpoints encountered, it's not entirely possible to extend this same empathy to all. Regardless, Diakité is an astute observer and evocative writer who deftly guides readers through his doubts, conflicts, and resolutions.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Valerie

    Reviewed for ALA's "Booklist" Magazine -- appears in the February 1, 2020 issue. If you have a subscription, you can read my review at BooklistOnline.com at: https://www.booklistonline.com/A-Drop... Reviewed for ALA's "Booklist" Magazine -- appears in the February 1, 2020 issue. If you have a subscription, you can read my review at BooklistOnline.com at: https://www.booklistonline.com/A-Drop...

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