Only the Strong: Book summary and reviews of Only the Strong by Jabari Asim

Only the Strong

by Jabari Asim

Only the Strong by Jabari Asim X
Only the Strong by Jabari Asim
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  • Published in USA  May 2015
    288 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

Jabari Asim's debut novel returns readers to Gateway City, the fictional Midwestern city first explored in his acclaimed short story collection, Taste of Honey. Against a 1970s backdrop of rapid social and political change, Only the Strong portrays the challenges and rewards of love in a quintessential American community where heartbreak and violence are seldom far away.

Moved by the death of Martin Luther King Jr., Lorenzo "Guts" Tolliver decides to abandon his career as a professional leg-breaker and pursue a life of quiet moments and generous helpings of banana pudding in the company of his new, sensuous lover.

His erstwhile boss, local kingpin Ananias Goode, is also thinking about slowing down - but his tempestuous affair with Dr. Artinces Noel, a prominent pediatrician, complicates his retirement plans. Meanwhile, Charlotte Divine, the doctor's headstrong protégée, struggles with trials of her own.

With prose that's sharp, humorous, and poetic, Asim skillfully renders a compelling portrait of urban life in the wake of the last major civil-rights bill. Massive change is afoot in America, and these characters have front-row seats.

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Reviews

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"As much as I loved the idea of reading about the era of my teenaged years (the 70s), sadly, Only The Strong never pulled me in and I gave up about half way through. In addition, it broke one of my cardinal rules for historical fiction. That is, if a story about the past is being told in the present tense, do not tell me something about one of the characters (real or fictional) that is going to happen to them in the future! If the story is being told in retrospect, that's fine. But if you're in the past, stay in the past." - BookBrowse, Davida Chazan

"Starred Review. You will rarely find a historical novel that's as panoramic yet also as lean, mean, and moving as this." - Kirkus

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Born in St. Louis, Jabari Asim is a journalist and author of many works of fiction, nonfiction, essays, poetry, and drama. He is currently the executive editor of The Crisis, the official magazine of the NAACP. He contributes to The Washington Post and Bookforum, and is as an associate professor of creative writing at Emerson College.

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