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The Portable Promised Land by Touré


This debut book by Touré was published in 2002 and is a collection of stories in which he speaks of a utopic Soul City where black urban life is celebrated. Touré creates numerous brilliant characters through whom he tells stories about black life, black aspirations, and the souls of black folk.

Through the use of humor Touré critiques existing societal stereotypes and social misconceptions about black people. The stories in this book portray what life as a black person in America is like by blending everyday reality with a touch of utopic imagination creating an exciting and entertaining read each time.

This is a humorous collection of short stories that are original and refreshing and which, most importantly, resonate with the black community in an edgy but witty style, and challenge what is termed ‘politically correct’ in a mixed-race society.

Touré establishes himself as a storyteller in this collection of short stories as he vividly narrates them in a way that enables the reader to form mental images of the stories as they logically flow to the climax. Share my story in this collection is unique, and each character represents a certain personality in the black community, whether stereotyped or real.

The Portable Promised land is a book that immerses the reader in the life of black communities and even reflects some of the great struggles that black people undergo in a society that is not fully accepting of their heritage. Stories such as “The Sad Sweet Story of Sugar Lips Shinehot, the man with The portable promised land” stand out as they accurately portray the basic struggle of the African –

American where not being able to see a white person is that much liberating to the spirit. Touré uses such deep analogies to tell the reality of being black in America.

Blackmanwwalkin is another sensational, rhythmic, and poetic story that celebrates black heritage unapologetically, making known that being black is not just being a member of a race but it is a state of mind and most importantly, a “state of grace” as Renée Graham aptly put it.

Touré goes all out to celebrate African heritage expressed in aesthetics and language in this book in sections such as The African American Aesthetics Hall of Fame or 101 Elements of Blackness (Things That’ll Make you say, Yes! That’s Some Really Black Shit!) and in Afrolexicology, which make this book a must-read for all black people everywhere as they hold up their fist in a symbol of black power and black pride.

This collection of short stories by Touré depicts what life is like living in a black community, the good and the bad, and is told with such humor and at times written in slang just to give it the authentic edge of black American English. It serves to show that there is rarely a dull moment in black communities as there is lots of drama, celebration, humor, and friendliness going around. This is a book that’s energetic and which deserves the buzz and hype that it got when it was first released.

This is specially made so by stories such as Attack on the Love Dogma wherein a secret pseudo-military armed unit kidnaps men who date white women and re-program their minds, such stories are light-hearted and laugh-inducing. Stories such as Sambomorphosis will make the reader introspect deeply about the changing times and what impact it has on the identity of young African – Americans.

All in all, each story authored by Touré in this collection is worth a read, introspection, and a conversation over some good laughter. Many readers have given it a five-star rating quite deservingly. This collection of 24 short stories is a wonderful exploration of black life with a twist from a powerfully imaginative mind that is Touré.

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