Travel Lit: Black Girl In Paris

Disclaimer: I am in no way responsible for sudden urges to check prices for round-the-world flights, the sudden desire to quit one’s job and move to Paris, or any other passport-required epiphany you may experience after reading about Eden’s escapades in Paris.  However, I can’t deny that my heart would smile just a little at the thought of such an adventure 🙂

Another fun way to be exposed to new cities, cultures, and experiences is through books. So on my blog I will try to incorporate books and book reviews about students or young adults in new, international places. (Although I must admit I don’t know of very many).  You may have never wanted to visit a place until you see it from someone’s eyes who’s actually there. What I love about travel literature is that it allows me to “visit” Paris (or Italy, or Australia, or Morocco, or Rio) even when I can’t.

I’ll review a couple of the books here. First up: Black Girl in Paris by Shay Youngblood.

I just started the book today so until I finish, here’s the review from Review

Any writer who makes a writer the protagonist of a novel is just asking for trouble. If the protagonist in question is a young African American woman in Paris, following in the footsteps of such well-known black expatriates as Langston Hughes, Josephine Baker, and James Baldwin, it’s double jeopardy. And yet in Black Girl in Paris, Shay Youngblood manages to avoid clichés even as she steers a course straight through them. In the fall of 1986, Eden, 25 years old and anxious “to be the kind of woman who was bold, took chances and had adventures,” buys a ticket to Paris and arrives with $200, determined to re-create for herself the life of a bygone era. She finds the requisite cheap and dingy room–in the Latin Quarter, of course–and low-paying job that all American expatriate artistic wannabes from Hughes to Hemingway must have in order to live the dream. She meets a circle of like-minded compatriots, has an affair with a white jazz musician, and all the while keeps her eye on the prize: a meeting with Baldwin himself. What saves this novel from being a retread of all the portraits of artists as young men and women in Paris that have gone before is Youngblood’s conscious invocations of Eden’s predecessors, of the bohemian lifestyle, of Paris itself. These are not, she suggests, the things themselves, but rather the romantic imaginings of a young woman who has pinned her hopes and ambitions on stories she’s read and heard thirdhand.
(Keep reading for the rest of the review.)