Book Review of Black Ribisi by Rasheem Rooke. Must add to your TBR list.
I am just beginning to read Black Ribisi, the breakout novel by Rasheem Rooke. I am late to the party as Rooke’s book was published in 2015 (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform). However, I am glad I was invited in the form of a request for a book review. I am all in after just a few pages.
I’ll talk about elements of the book that impress me. So far, the story is fast-paced. Heavy in content but not weighted down by wordiness. Prose are not cluttered or hampered by overabundant and unnecessary words. Exposition is not saturated by explanation. The writing is nimble, sharp and knife-like with its precision.
The economy of words pulls you into the bullseye of the story.
And that’s just the prologue.
Rooke has a keen ear for pithy and precise dialogue. It is not the language used by an aloof writer writing dialogue in an isolated part of a coffee shop. The dialogue is not contrived, reading more like a transcript. Rooke clearly has done his homework. His ears are on the pulse. He listens closely to the mouths of others. A camouflaged bystander, someone sitting on a park bench mentally recording elicit snatches of passing exchanges. A deft detective effective at eliciting truth from what people say and do. Rooke is discerning not only with his ears but also his eyes, capturing in dialogue not only what is said but how. He has an ear for intonation and intent. Myopic descriptors don’t blunder the writer’s work. The characters do their jobs.
Anthony “Black” Ribisi, aka Jelani Jones, is the narrator who is unsparing in his first-person account of what is happening around him. He is a man of many sides and many side hustles. Organized crime. Childhood friend to Coco. Like the narrator of Ellison’s Invisible Man, the lights are on only when he wants them, and only when he wants you to see him. We see a world selectively crafted. We are told only what we need to know precisely when we need to know it.
Who is Ribisi is not only the question Rooke explores throughout Black Ribisi, but it is one Ribisi explores within himself.
Now I return to reading, as Rooke’s sequel, Broken Brotherhood, is due to be out June 2018.