“Over the course of a dinner party—from its haphazard preparation through its suffocating courses to its scandalous end—a middle-aged woman’s shame and the potential for a very public humiliation lead her to reminisce about her collegiate lover Selena and the heightened emotions of their very brief relationship.
The novel is character-driven, the majority of the story told through the highlight (and lowlight) reel of Liselle’s life where she explores her sexuality, race, and her self. Filled with incisive commentary and ironic descriptions, the plot’s lightness (Liselle’s husband might be arrested, maybe even at this very dinner!) allows Solomon to better explore the nuances of Liselle’s experience.”
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.