At the moment, I’m working on a book of no mean feat by Alex Haley called Roots.
It’s roughly 900 pages and I’ve been working on it now for almost a month.
I wouldn’t say that I dislike long books, but I tend to shy away from them these days because they do take a long time to get through and I can read 3 or 4 books for the price of one long book. On the bright side, such an epic length allows me to delve into the world and see it from their point of view.
Roots is one of those books that somehow gets on everyone’s radar at some point or another. I don’t know if this was the first time I heard about it, but I remember reading Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul and they had a small piece about Haley in there. If not, then it was probably from seeing at the library at some point or another. No matter, however I found out about it, I did and it’s been on my list ever since.
But if you’re a reader like me, you’re constantly reading and getting distracted by other books, which I was doing. And not to mention that the book is close to 900 pages long. So years went by and I kinda forgot about this book.
And then all of a sudden, this little gem worked it’s way back into the limelight this year. I heard at the beginning of the summer that Roots was being re-made again (there had been a mini series several decades ago) and I finally decided it was time to make an effort to get through the book.
And a month later, I’m close to the finish line. I’m about 150 pages to the end and I’m excited about it. It’s one of those stories that has very few happy moments and make you want to cry for the people who had to suffer before the rest of the world finally figured out that slavery wasn’t exactly great.
I was a little nervous about this book, the size being a big part of it. But I’d also read a review of it online and the reviewer was saying how pretentious some of the characters got, almost in a “holier than thou” kind of way. I know this can happen to anybody no matter what color you are, but I was hoping it wouldn’t be in such a book. And you know, I did see some of that earlier in the book. Kunta Kinte, having known freedom all his life, couldn’t understand the behaviors of enslaved people who had only know the life they were living. He constantly referred to them has pagans and resented them for not fighting against the white people and that kind of irritated me for a while.
But then I got to thinking: what if it had been? What if I hadn’t understood what just happened to me? I probably would’ve fought back like he did and got mad at the others for not struggling against the chains of oppression that those with more power had over me and others.
I think this is an important book that everyone should try to read at some point in their lifetimes. It’s more of a docu-novel than straight out nonfiction, but the characters are real ancestors of the author and the characters went through the same sufferings as other black people at the time. The more we understand our history, the more we understand our present day situations and ourselves.