Blog Debut!
For The Love Of Africa

Hey UTC Family!

Welcome to my blog! I guess you can say this space is about any and everything, well, books.

My name is RaNeeka J. Claxton. I’m a bit of a bookworm, a writer by trade, a journalist and Master of Fine Arts student of creative writing by profession. When I get time in my crazy schedule, my love is to read novels by African authors. There’s something very simple, yet, endearing as heck about the smell of the bush and landscape, the taste of the food, the beauty (or lack thereof) of the people many African authors are able to evoke within their novels and settings – no matter in which part of my beloved continent the settings may land.

Most of us know works by renowned African authors Chinua Achebe, Tsitsi Dangaremba, Chimamanda Adichie and Buchi Emecheta, to name a few. But I’ve been exploring less known writers, such as “The Icarus Girl” by Helen Oyeyemi (who, might I add, published her first book at 18); and “Everything Good Will Come,” by Sefi Atta (who got her MFA at Antioch University right there in LA). These writers are phenomenal, to say the very least!

Let’s touch on Oyeyemi’s book just a little bit. She writes about a main character, Jessamy “Jess” Harrison –a little mulatto girl whose mother is Nigerian, and father is English. On a trip to Ibadan, Nigeria with her parents, the 8-year-old befriends a spirit named TillyTilly – who ends up being the spirit of her dead twin Fern.

In the Yoruba belief system, twins live in three worlds: the real world, spirit world and the Bush – a wilderness of the mind. That said, Jess had the innate ability to be the only one who can see TillyTilly.

The book was wild because I felt like I was in and out of Jess and TillyTilly’s heads as they journeyed together privately between the natural world and the “other” world. If you don’t like books about “otherness” and stuff like that, this one might not be the best read for you. But, Oyeyemi didn’t leave us hangin’. I gathered some other overall themes in the book that I’ll tell you about later, along with further talk about this book and others.

But for now, I want you all to know that I intend for this blog to be a conglomerate of sorts. That said, I invite you all to tell me your thoughts about our (yes, our) discussions. Let me know which books you’ve been meaning to pick up and read, but never got the chance.

Enlighten me with your run-ins or interactions with local authors – or those beyond. I want to know what kind of ideas are out there about published authors – be it black, brown, yellow or white. In other words, which parts of the written word would you like me to check out? I welcome your feedback!


Book: The Icarus Girl
Author: Helen Oyeyemi
Pages: 335
Publisher: Anchor Books, a division of Random House, Inc.
Copyright: 2005
Themes: Life as a child mulatto; childlike spiritual realm; culture clashes between English and Africans/blacks and whites; Nigerian traditions and deities
Recommendation: I bought it and have no regretsJ

Peace until next time…

RaNeeka J. Claxton is a journalist and Master of Fine Arts student at University of California, Riverside, with a concentration in Fiction. A native Detroiter, she just began work on her first novel. Claxton is based in Palm Springs, and would love to hear from book fans at

Leave a Comment


August 5th, 2008 at 6:00 am AVADVA says:

Hi there… Ava from UTC here. A quick note of apology for the technical difficulties today. We are retooling some aspects of UTC and well… things happen. Our bad! But now we’re back on track. :) Thanks for your patience.

August 5th, 2008 at 6:50 am Phillip Giddings says:

Interesting selection.

August 5th, 2008 at 7:13 am lolalove says:

Wonderful recommendations and you describes very well making me want to jump right into the bush! lol

August 5th, 2008 at 7:13 am ratty says:

We got culture up in here! Now a book critic? I’m wit it! Welcome Reneeka!

August 5th, 2008 at 8:08 am Kenneth Boston says:

Hell yeah. Me too Ratty. Welcome RaNeeka.

August 5th, 2008 at 8:31 am Soothsayer says:

Icarus Girl is a great recommendation! Esp for the uninitiated. Lovely blog welcome!

August 5th, 2008 at 8:50 am Binta Rohan says:

I know Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart but have to admit I don’t know any other of these names. Thanks for introducing them. Icarus Girl sounds like a good place to start!

August 5th, 2008 at 9:12 am RaNeeka J Claxton says:

Wow, thanks to everyone for the love! I feel so welcome and it’s only been a few hours!
I plan on coming to you guys with something new once, if not, twice a month. I want to keep you fed:o)
Let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like to explore.

August 5th, 2008 at 9:16 am DON JUAN says:

Wow I’ve never heard of any of this and its got me very curious! A brother is learnin’ up in here!

August 5th, 2008 at 9:19 am Nicole Malave says:

Really love this…welcome to the fam!

August 5th, 2008 at 9:24 am Tilane Jones says:

Welcome! Great blog I am always looking for good books to read. I will have to pick this one up.

August 5th, 2008 at 9:24 am Kettle Blk says:

The Yoruba system…I have a friend who practices that and always seems so centered - I really want to explore other worlds and ways of approaching life - thanks for this wonderful new blog. I will be checking these authors out!

August 5th, 2008 at 9:25 am Jane Kennedy says:


August 5th, 2008 at 9:52 am CeaseNYC says:

I’m not that much of a reader. To answer your question, I’d like to get a list of books that are good starter books for dudes like me who want to get into reading more. Last one I read was Malcolm X like 7 years ago.

August 5th, 2008 at 9:59 am Nu yawk says:

@cease come on man i dont’ read something since then! get out the tv homie

August 5th, 2008 at 10:00 am westcoast shortee says:

i’m with this!

August 5th, 2008 at 10:29 am Ginger says:

Why don’t you get off Ceast NuYawk?

August 5th, 2008 at 10:30 am Ginger says:

I like books about “otherness” - I’m going to pick this up.

August 5th, 2008 at 12:11 pm thelma says:

Girl I’m really digging this! Best of luck with your studies and I may be dropping you a line soon for more recommendations!

August 5th, 2008 at 12:31 pm Najee Ali says:

Welcome sister RaNeeka !I love reading and cant wait to read more of what you have to offer

August 5th, 2008 at 12:43 pm heatmizer says:


August 5th, 2008 at 1:13 pm chica22 says:

oooooo this sounds like stuff i love. thanks raneeka and welcome. and thanks utc for bringing this new voice to us.

August 5th, 2008 at 1:23 pm Red Razor says:

Another stunning blogger. Gotsa be something in the water over at UTC!!!!!!

August 5th, 2008 at 1:53 pm Jenafa Duvall says:

do you like that chick from haiti i forgot her name but her stuff is amazing

August 5th, 2008 at 4:00 pm Toni V. says:

Great first post, RaNeeka. I remember seeing Icarus Girl in Essence. I told some friends about the blog, and I’m adding it to my faves!

August 5th, 2008 at 4:03 pm buttabrown says:

This is super! Reading more is really something I keep saying I’m going to do so thanks for being the tour guide and welcome

August 5th, 2008 at 4:43 pm culturepop says:

we all know its important for us to pick up a book at least every now and then! come on, especially you youngbloods

August 5th, 2008 at 5:19 pm Justin Harris says:

good info i’m not sure if i could take this in but i can try

August 5th, 2008 at 7:59 pm Regina Holloway says:

I read this a couple of years ago and the sister is right - it is a beautiful story!

August 5th, 2008 at 8:00 pm Regina Holloway says:

A bit about the author if interested. I found it really an amazing Cinderella tale:
“HELEN OYEYEMI’S first novel was published in Britain last winter to considerable fanfare. Oyeyemi, who was born in Nigeria and raised in England, wrote the book when she was 18, while studying for her examinations. A literary agent took her on after reading only 20 pages of the manuscript and won her a two-book deal for an advance that was said to be in the neighborhood of £400,000 (though the publisher insists it was less).”
- from New York Times

August 5th, 2008 at 8:59 pm RaNeeka J Claxton says:

Everyone’s comments are absolutely amazing! It looks like I’m going to have to feed you guys more often than I thought, and I’d love that.

Jenafa Duvall, I am familiar with the author Edwidge Danticat from Haiti. I read her book “The Farming of Bones” back in undergrad. I do admire her work!

August 5th, 2008 at 9:03 pm RaNeeka J Claxton says:

Toni V., thanks for passing the blog along to friends. I hope they are as equally touched by my words as you are! Thanks for reading.

August 5th, 2008 at 9:06 pm RaNeeka J Claxton says:

CeaseNYC, thanks for coming back at me with a suggestion. I’ll work on a short list of starter books and post it at the end of my next blog.

August 5th, 2008 at 10:24 pm SweetSis says:

Let be late freight and welcome you too. I need to read more for sure :)

August 6th, 2008 at 12:27 am kamalp says:

Ditto @ Red

August 6th, 2008 at 1:08 am Elsa Harkins says:

A warm welcome 2u Miss RaNeeka. I read & luved Jessie & Tilly last year on a plane ride &couldn’t put it down. It’s not for everybody but the people who are into it will luv it.

August 6th, 2008 at 8:42 am Destah Owens says:

Welcome, RaNeeka. This is great. I’ll be making a trip to Marcus Books before my next trip to an airport. Who need’s Oprah’s Book club? We’ve got RaNeeka!

August 6th, 2008 at 10:43 am Saman Scissor Burton says:

What a lovely blog. The Icarus Girl is one of my favorites.

August 7th, 2008 at 8:49 am RaNeeka J Claxton says:

Destah, thanks so much for the comparison of “Booked” to Oprah’s Book Club! I hope you do go pick up “The Icarus Girl.” Let me know what you think.

August 7th, 2008 at 6:06 pm DPI_NUPE_1911 says:

This is an awsome blog! Im not into reading as much but I will definitely look into your recommendations. Keep up the good work, we need more people in the world like you. Good job RaNeeka!!

August 20th, 2008 at 7:39 pm RaNeeka J Claxton says:

Thanks so much! I really appreciate that comment.

August 18th, 2009 at 12:19 pm TRAMAINE GANDY says:


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