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Greenland

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A dazzling, debut novel-within-a-novel in the vein of The Prophets and Memorial, about a young author writing about the secret love affair between E.M. Forster and Mohammed el Adl--in which Mohammed's story collides with his own, blending fact and fiction. In 1919, Mohammed el Adl, the young Egyptian lover of British author E. M. Forster, spent six months in a jail cell. A A dazzling, debut novel-within-a-novel in the vein of The Prophets and Memorial, about a young author writing about the secret love affair between E.M. Forster and Mohammed el Adl--in which Mohammed's story collides with his own, blending fact and fiction. In 1919, Mohammed el Adl, the young Egyptian lover of British author E. M. Forster, spent six months in a jail cell. A century later, Kip Starling has locked himself in his Brooklyn basement study with a pistol and twenty-one gallons of Poland Spring to write Mohammed's story. Kip has only three weeks until his publisher's deadline to immerse himself in the mind of Mohammed who, like Kip, is Black, queer, an Other. The similarities don't end there. Both of their lives have been deeply affected by their confrontations with Whiteness, homophobia, their upper crust education, and their white romantic partners. As Kip immerses himself in his writing, Mohammed's story - and then Mohammed himself - begins to speak to him, and his life becomes a Proustian portal into Kip's own memories and psyche. Greenland seamlessly conjures two distinct yet overlapping worlds where the past mirrors the present, and the artist's journey transforms into a quest for truth that offers a world of possibility. Electric and unforgettable, David Santos Donaldson's tour de force excavates the dream of white assimilation, the foibles of interracial relationships, and not only the legacy of a literary giant, but literature itself.


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A dazzling, debut novel-within-a-novel in the vein of The Prophets and Memorial, about a young author writing about the secret love affair between E.M. Forster and Mohammed el Adl--in which Mohammed's story collides with his own, blending fact and fiction. In 1919, Mohammed el Adl, the young Egyptian lover of British author E. M. Forster, spent six months in a jail cell. A A dazzling, debut novel-within-a-novel in the vein of The Prophets and Memorial, about a young author writing about the secret love affair between E.M. Forster and Mohammed el Adl--in which Mohammed's story collides with his own, blending fact and fiction. In 1919, Mohammed el Adl, the young Egyptian lover of British author E. M. Forster, spent six months in a jail cell. A century later, Kip Starling has locked himself in his Brooklyn basement study with a pistol and twenty-one gallons of Poland Spring to write Mohammed's story. Kip has only three weeks until his publisher's deadline to immerse himself in the mind of Mohammed who, like Kip, is Black, queer, an Other. The similarities don't end there. Both of their lives have been deeply affected by their confrontations with Whiteness, homophobia, their upper crust education, and their white romantic partners. As Kip immerses himself in his writing, Mohammed's story - and then Mohammed himself - begins to speak to him, and his life becomes a Proustian portal into Kip's own memories and psyche. Greenland seamlessly conjures two distinct yet overlapping worlds where the past mirrors the present, and the artist's journey transforms into a quest for truth that offers a world of possibility. Electric and unforgettable, David Santos Donaldson's tour de force excavates the dream of white assimilation, the foibles of interracial relationships, and not only the legacy of a literary giant, but literature itself.

30 review for Greenland

  1. 4 out of 5

    Marieke (mariekes_mesmerizing_books)

    Greenland is the captivating and unusual story of Kip, a Black queer author who has three weeks to write a book about the secret love affair E.M. Forster had with Mohammed el Adl. The book starts when Kip locks himself in the basement for three weeks. He badly wants to be a published author, and if he can write the story from Mohammed’s point of view, he’ll be offered a contract. While trying to write the story, Kip often gets distracted. He looks at his own life, the choices he made and how Moha Greenland is the captivating and unusual story of Kip, a Black queer author who has three weeks to write a book about the secret love affair E.M. Forster had with Mohammed el Adl. The book starts when Kip locks himself in the basement for three weeks. He badly wants to be a published author, and if he can write the story from Mohammed’s point of view, he’ll be offered a contract. While trying to write the story, Kip often gets distracted. He looks at his own life, the choices he made and how Mohammed handled things.   At first, I found it a bit difficult to get into the story, but I couldn't stop reading after a few chapters. In this fascinating book, David Santos Donaldson seamlessly interweaves Kip’s and Mohammed’s lives. Both men have so much in common, they’re Black, queer, and are in a relationship with white men. But this story is about more. It’s about the cost of friendship, the role that books and poems (by Walt Whitman) play in their lives, and most of all, it’s about being seen. Truly being seen. Kip’s reason why he wants to publish his book so badly touched me. As a Black, gay man, he needs the world to say, I see you. You matter. I know you exist. Greenland is an honest and sometimes raw book. A refreshing read, and I highly recommend this story! I received an ARC from Amistad and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Follow me on Instagram

  2. 4 out of 5

    luce ❀ wishfully reading ❀

    Greenland is characterized by a mordant, erudite satire that I have come to associate with authors such as Zadie Smith, Deborah Levy, and Edward St. Aubyn. David Santos Donaldson's insight into academia & creative burnout brought to mind the work of Weike Wang, Elaine Hsieh Chou, David Hoon Kim, and Jo Hamya. Similarly to these authors, Donaldson presents readers with a young(ish) main character who is in the midst of a bizarre existential crisis. There were elements of Donaldson’s storytelling Greenland is characterized by a mordant, erudite satire that I have come to associate with authors such as Zadie Smith, Deborah Levy, and Edward St. Aubyn. David Santos Donaldson's insight into academia & creative burnout brought to mind the work of Weike Wang, Elaine Hsieh Chou, David Hoon Kim, and Jo Hamya. Similarly to these authors, Donaldson presents readers with a young(ish) main character who is in the midst of a bizarre existential crisis. There were elements of Donaldson’s storytelling that I rather appreciated as they reminded me of Helen Oyeyemi and Elif Batuman, in that Greenland is consistently absurd in its tone and in its engagement with its various subject matters so that we have many scenes which manage to be both surreal yet oddly realistic. Similarly to the protagonists of those authors, Kip makes for a hyperalert yet frustratingly naïve narrator whose inner monologue is rather navel-gazey, as he obsesses over himself & the perception others have of him and (over)-intellectualizes even the banalest and most fleeting of his ideas/opinions. Whereas Selin's ruminations in The Idiot have to do with language and philosophy, central to Kip’s narrative are race, history, and books, which allow for an intertextual dimension which really enriches his story. I think this novel had a lot of potential, sadly sometimes this potential was wasted so that the story came across as self-indulgent and too intent on being clever and satirical. Still, the narration has this playfulness to it that really works in the story’s favour and the author’s social commentary is very much on point, as it manages to be witty & razor-sharp. Donaldson’s exploration of his main character’s identity, his uneasy relationship with widely accepted ideals of masculinity & Blackness, and his experiences with racism in academia and in intimate relationships (with his partner and best friend), are some of the novel’s strongest aspects, and I admired how Donaldson was able to address serious and topical issues with both humor and depth. The story has a rather freewheeling structure as much of the narrative takes place in a confined setting: a basement study in Brooklyn. Kip Starling is a gay man in his thirties who is convinced that the only way he can meet his prospective publisher’s deadline is by locking himself in his study. He needs to revise his book on the love affair between E.M. Forster and Mohammed el Adl, which he initially had written from Forster’s pov, but now has to write from Mohammed's one. Kip’s reimaging of Mohammed’s life and affair are heavily influenced by his own personal experiences, and soon enough he struggles to distinguish fact from fiction, reality from fantasy. The narrative switches from Kip in the basement and the story he is writing. As Kip writes about Mohammed we learn more about him: he lives with his older white partner, an American therapist named Ben, who just recently broke up with him; he had a big fight with Concha, his best-friend months prior and the two have not yet mended things; he is British and struggled a lot to fit in with his American peers at university; he is very much experiencing a major identity crisis. Kip's speculations into philosophy and spirituality, into whiteness and queerness, are characterised by a wry millennial tone, one that was for the most part rather amusing. The sheer absurdity of the scenario and of Kip’s increasingly frenzied inner monologue result in an offbeat narrative, one that is often unapologetically weird and nonsensical. In the latter part of the novel we follow Kip as he embarks on a physical and possibly mystical journey, one that sees him confronting his relationship with whiteness, literature, and history. Here the story takes even more of a fantastical turn as the line between Kip’s story and Mohammed’s disappears almost completely, and it is very much left to the readers' interpretation to ascertain how unreliable a narrator Kip is. Sure, at times Kip’s intellectualizing grated on me, as it resulted in some verbose & florid passages that really added little to his story. The satire too sometimes feels too heavy-handed so that the characters and scenarios appear cartoonish, crass even, and in this way, I was reminded of Version Control by Dexter Palmer & My Education by Susan Choi. The female characters, from the way they were described to the way their personalities were portrayed, left a lot to be desired. And at times it seemed that the story minimises Kip’s sexism because he’s not straight, but that didn't quite sit right with me. One of the worst offenders is Concha, not because she is intentionally unlikeable (the way she fetishes and eroticises Blackness is schifo) but because she is the kind of Mediterranean character that I usually associate with English & American authors. They are passionate & hot-blooded, and often over-sexualised and prone to expressing quaint opinions about life, marriage, love, and sex. Concha is the type of character that I would expect to encounter in a book by Wilkie Collins or Agatha Christie, not in a book published in 2022 and that has a contemporary setting. Of course, when speaking about her Kip has to mention flamenco or emphasize how she goes on about men’s virility and whatnot. She is supposedly in love with Kip, and he knows this and doesn’t exactly do anything about it which leads him to feel guilty about the way he handled their relationship but I for one questioned the validity of their friendship. I just didn’t believe in it. Not because all friendships have to be nice and easy (i quite like the slightly competitive and peculiar bond between selin and svetlana in batuman’s books) but they have to be credible, and because Concha is such a cartoonish character who spouts the kind of ‘opinions’ that reek of scientific racism, I questioned what Kip saw in her. The narrative makes it seem like she’s funny purely because she’s Spanish, and has eccentric Spanish ways/views…le sigh. I was very much over her. She has no redeeming qualities nor is she horribly toxic in a particularly memorable or credible way. Kip’s partner also was rather one-dimensional, and I didn’t like that the narrative tries to paint him in an ultimately ‘he-is-not-so-bad’ light when again his microaggressions are of the scientific racist variety. Yeah, he’s white so inevitably he will make remarks that reek of his white privilege but the stuff he says are of the there-is-no-going-back variety. And to be honest he doesn’t really have much of a personality, other than being kind of pathetic and ignorant. I just found him rather unpleasant and icky. Once again, I struggled to believe in their relationship, as I did not really get what drew these two men together, nor did the glimpses into their relationship make their romantic and sexual relationship more convincing. As I said, I can find complicated and f*cked up relationships affecting, which is why I love authors like Brandon Taylor and Donna Tartt. But I could have easily looked past Kip's relationship with these two characters whose presence in the book is after all mostly relegated to flashbacks (i think we hear their disembodied voices while kip is in his self-imposed imprisonment). This story is mainly about Kip and the existential clusterf*ck he experiences. The author presents us with an experimental character study, one that is playfully surrealistic yet surprisingly touching and insightful. The narrative’s intertextuality enriches the text, as Kip often refers to the lives and works of other authors (for example kip refers to W. E. B. Du Bois' double consciousness, Walt Whitman, Toni Morrison, and Fyodor Dostoevsky) as we read of Kip’s experiences in white-dominated places as well as his struggle to ‘acclimatize’ to American culture. As a Black gay man, Kip feels and is made to feel othered, and much of the narrative explores this notion of otherness and there are many awkward instances, of him not fitting in or attempting to connect to others, that brought to mind cringe-comedy shows like Fleabag & Chewing Gum. Sure, I would have liked to learn more about his family and his childhood but by focusing almost exclusively on his adulthood Donaldson still achieves a compelling character analysis. What I struggled to look past was the story within the story, that is the sections we get from Kip’s book. While I love reading books centred on characters who are aspiring or established authors, for example Writers & Lovers, if said books include sections of writing from these fictional authors...these are of questionable quality. And the chapters from Kip's book...were, how shall I put it, not good. Words like pitiful, bad, and ridiculous come to mind when I think back to them. Atrocious even. The writing was laboured, the storytelling sensationalistic, and the characters, who are supposedly existing in 1919 Egypt, possessed rather modern sensibilities. Sure, you could say this was intentionally pointing to Kip’s over-identifying with his protagonist…yet, having these sections from his book made the parallels between his story and Mohammed’s one seem forced, gimmicky even. Personally, I would have preferred if we’d just gotten a quote from his book at the begging of each chapter or something, but having to read Kip’s book bogged down Kip’s own narrative and made me feel less engaged in what I was reading. I also really didn’t like Kip’s Forster, a generically effete Edwardian man who lacks a moral backbone. Again, was I meant to believe that he was in love with Mohammed? And vice versa? It seemed that Mohammed was mostly revolted by him, and while I can appreciate books that have very toxic relationships or unromantic love stories, here I just didn’t buy into them. The trajectory of Kip’s journey also risked being a bit too Eat Pray Love with Kip having an ‘awakening’ in Greenland. Sure, he isn't a blonde straight woman, but the way his narrative portrays Aguta, an Inuit woman, yeah...it wasn't great. In Greenland, he comes across someone who shares his very traumatic experiences and the narrative is very flippant about the whole thing, which didn’t sit right with me in that it felt gratuitous and exaggerated. All in all, I have rather conflicted feelings about Greenland. On the one hand, it was inventive and amusive, on the other, it was sometimes tasteless and it had a lot of cartoonish elements that just struck me as unfunny and self-indulgent. Nevertheless, the writing could also be frothy and fun, Kip's shrewd reflections on race, belonging, class, and history made me think of one of my favourite authors, Danzy Senna. Additionally, the narrative made me add An African in Greenland to my tbr-pile. Considering this is a debut novel, I have to say it is a surprisingly memorable one (sadly i find a lot of debut novels to be a bit too vanilla-ey for my taste) and it has definitely succeeded in making me interested in checking out Donaldson's future work.

  3. 4 out of 5

    emma

    this is the eeriest cover of all time and of course i requested an arc. (thanks to netgalley for it)

  4. 4 out of 5

    TimInCalifornia

    I didn’t realize how much I needed a novel like this. It’s been a long time since I finished a book that left me feeling better about myself and feeling better about humankind, with a renewed optimism that I, like everyone, have a place and purpose that comes just by being, not necessarily from any role I play in the world. Many themes run through this novel, one of which is the importance of being seen, really and authentically seen, by another and somehow Donaldson managed to leave me, as the I didn’t realize how much I needed a novel like this. It’s been a long time since I finished a book that left me feeling better about myself and feeling better about humankind, with a renewed optimism that I, like everyone, have a place and purpose that comes just by being, not necessarily from any role I play in the world. Many themes run through this novel, one of which is the importance of being seen, really and authentically seen, by another and somehow Donaldson managed to leave me, as the reader, with that feeling by the end of the book. I felt seen. So, wow – what an adventure of a story. Kipling is a Black British ex-pat living in the U.S. and trying to get his novel on E.M. Forster and Mohammed, Forster’s Black Egyptian boyfriend, published. Faced with a publishing deadline 3 weeks hence, he has barricaded himself in the basement of his home in an effort to force himself to re-work his manuscript from the unique perspective of Mohammed rather than Forster. Searching for Mohammed’s voice to tell his story, Kipling undertakes (or undergoes) an unflinching examination of his own life. That's not quite right. He flinches quite often and that's part of the wonderfully creative tension in the story - Kipling learning to see himself, learning to see others seeing him. Beginning a story with the main character barricaded in a basement may not seem like a promising adventure but trust me, you will be a well-traveled reader by the novel's end and also a well-read reader. Donaldson weaves in quotes from novelists and poets, largely from the English canon, that serve to teach, guide and steady Kipling on his harrowing emotional, and literal, journey. Are there elements of magical realism in this novel? I guess that depends on one's perspective on what is real and what is illusory. In Kipling's journey, Donaldson quite brilliantly shows the reality of the amorphous boundaries of space and time. This will be an excellent book club choice especially, but not exclusively, for groups focused on reading the Black experience and LGBTQ+ experience. "You become real. When that dimension emerges from within you, it also draws it forth from within the other person. Ultimately, of course, there is no other and you are always meeting yourself. " -Eckhart Tolle Who would have thought the above quote could be so ably transposed into novel form? A heartfelt thank you to the author for writing #Greenland and to #NetGalley and #HarperCollins for the electronic ARC.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Richard Derus

    Rating: 4.25* of five, rounded down for stylistic infelicities I RECEIVED THIS DRC FROM THE PUBLISHER VIA EDELWEISS+. THANK YOU. My Review: I don't think anyone on Earth could've wanted to love this book more than I did. I'm in an intergenerational Black/white gay relationship. I am the very epitome of this debut novel's audience! And here's the four-plus-star review to tell you why; and where it fell short for me. Start with the pace. Kip(ling, as in the white Empire apologist) is Black, his lover. Rating: 4.25* of five, rounded down for stylistic infelicities I RECEIVED THIS DRC FROM THE PUBLISHER VIA EDELWEISS+. THANK YOU. My Review: I don't think anyone on Earth could've wanted to love this book more than I did. I'm in an intergenerational Black/white gay relationship. I am the very epitome of this debut novel's audience! And here's the four-plus-star review to tell you why; and where it fell short for me. Start with the pace. Kip(ling, as in the white Empire apologist) is Black, his lover...a strange hybrid of presence and absence...is white. Kip's main focus in the novel he needs to write in three weeks to meet his deadline is E.M. Forster's Black Egyptian lover, Mohammed's, treacherous path to being with an older white man. That needs set-up...but almost the first quarter of the book? It was drawn-out and in view of the excitement potential of this tale of discovery and personal growth through identification with Otherness, sapped the energy out of the tale for this reader. Next, the sexuality...I am a lifelong admirer of and votary to the phallus, but good gravy, the erections and the spontaneous orgasms in here are, um, over the top. You should forgive. I'm also, as a survivor of maternal incest, permaybehaps a bit oversensitive to the juxtaposition of sexuality and those who really should be too young for such to occur to them. I accept, though, that this isn't done by the author for a lascivious purpose but as a fact of a certain kind of life. Still squicked me out. But the core, the beating heart of the book, is the quest to be one's own power, to set one's own course, when Black and Other. Ben (Kip's lover) wants badly to be supportive, yet can't help but be a force for assimilation. No one white can help that. It's a fact of racist society...that we exist in our privilege is enough for us to exert metaphysical gravity towards that end. The fact that Mohammed is in love with a man of great public eminence means he's under even greater assimilationist pressures. And let's face it, the assimilation can never be complete or seamless. One's skin color is not subject to change. Kip's literary efforts are to deliver an acceptable manuscript. To a publisher, white. Who might, or might not, care to read, sign, publish his work...he has to do this. And he's got his companion, Mohammed, in his semblance of ever-increasing corporeality, as a guide, a distraction, a hectoring nuisance of a muse. Upstairs, he's got his loving, exasperated, uncomprehending white lover Ben. This is the way we're going to go...through the hard, scary, fiercely fought battlefields of love and relationship and the deep dependence we all have on the illusion of the world we carry in our heads. Ben's illusions about marriage to the creative and exciting Kip didn't include the hard, slogging reality of living with a writer's frequent descents into insanity. Kip's fantasy of the way white privilege works was that it was transitive, like so many other senses of the verb "to fuck". One of them, dear Kip, is "to fuck over" and that is what Kip's fears and senses are telling him is happening. His embodied Blackness in Mohammed, the muse and weirdly corporeal fantasy, is there to tell him how getting fucked is only fun if it's not "over," and that's what the white men they truly love are inevitably going to do. Well, there's something in that...there's no relationship that has perfect parity of partners, and there's a lot fewer relationships that have both Black and white men in them that get too close to that fantasy of parity. It's a tough enough thing to get the whole world's ideas about men in love with each other..."who's the woman? is what they say about Black men true?"...out of your bed, then you've got to get it out of your head. That's where things just crash for most people I've known who are in these relationships. Ben and Kip are separated by the powerful pull of ease. Ben's crash comes while Kip's at his most vulnerable, and his most destructive. Ben looks into the void of Kip's unfillable maw of need, validation and identity and control and power and acceptance and love, and realizes "I can't do that...I can't be that." This being the nature of intimate relationships, Kip simply stalls out when he is Seen and abandoned on the existential level by the man he wanted to save him. Mohammed, the fantasy of Blackness and betrayed Otherness, and Kip have to make a run for it, or else be consumed into invisibiliy. These struggles are, I suppose it pays to say out loud here, basic human ones. They're not different for different people, no matter their manifold other oppositions. What they represent is the endless, victoryless battle to be better at being yourself in a world that does not care in the tiniest degree about you. And what Kip must do is see that battle through. What makes his battle relatable, we've established in its basics. What makes it unique is Kip's thriving, driving need to create. And Ben? He isn't there in that battle. So Kip's on the field by himself. With Mohammed's fantastical, corporeal shade. That betrayed and abandoned, bitterly wounded, foully abused Black body is what Kip's life needs to incorporate because it is the very center of his Jungian Selfness. The final scenes of Greenland, taking place with Black men in cold, searing whiteness, are some of the most profound explications of the Union of the Self I've ever read. And, faithful to Chekhov's gun rule, the ending of the novel is the end. The true end. Remember, though, that all endings are also beginnings.

  6. 5 out of 5

    lyraand

    "a literary ghost story in which a Black gay writer who is on an obsessive quest to get published, seeks to find his own voice while writing a novel about the forbidden real-life love affair between E.M. Forster and the young Black Egyptian train conductor Mohammed el-Adl, as he becomes gradually more and more possessed by Mohammed’s spirit which is coming alive in him as he writes, drawing on magical realism and exploring issues of racism, psychological manipulation, and identity" "a literary ghost story in which a Black gay writer who is on an obsessive quest to get published, seeks to find his own voice while writing a novel about the forbidden real-life love affair between E.M. Forster and the young Black Egyptian train conductor Mohammed el-Adl, as he becomes gradually more and more possessed by Mohammed’s spirit which is coming alive in him as he writes, drawing on magical realism and exploring issues of racism, psychological manipulation, and identity"

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Hawpe

    Greenland is a gorgeously multi-faceted, meta-literary, quasi-ghost story meets romantic vision-quest that will knock your reading socks off and knit them back together into a whole new design. Donaldson's stellar debut brings to mind Colson Whitehead (The Underground Railroad), Sarah Perry (The Essex Serpent), Paul Beatty (The Sellout), and Viet Nguyen (The Sympathizer.) Greenland is a gorgeously multi-faceted, meta-literary, quasi-ghost story meets romantic vision-quest that will knock your reading socks off and knit them back together into a whole new design. Donaldson's stellar debut brings to mind Colson Whitehead (The Underground Railroad), Sarah Perry (The Essex Serpent), Paul Beatty (The Sellout), and Viet Nguyen (The Sympathizer.)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sarah-Hope

    In Greenland, David Santos Donaldson offers us a central character, Kip (short for Kipling) Starling, whose sudden swings in moods and thinking reflect his experience living as a gay black writer in the U.S. in a longterm relationship with a white man, racing against a three-week deadline to rewrite a novelization of E.M. Forster's love affair Mohammed el Adl, a black man living in Egypt during the struggle for Egyptian independence, so that the novel is presented from el Adl's perspective rathe In Greenland, David Santos Donaldson offers us a central character, Kip (short for Kipling) Starling, whose sudden swings in moods and thinking reflect his experience living as a gay black writer in the U.S. in a longterm relationship with a white man, racing against a three-week deadline to rewrite a novelization of E.M. Forster's love affair Mohammed el Adl, a black man living in Egypt during the struggle for Egyptian independence, so that the novel is presented from el Adl's perspective rather than Forster's. And there's the part about locking himself in a basement and boarding up the door so he can't do anything but write, and the part about what turns out to be a journey to Greenland, though that isn't the destination he was originally headed toward. Also, what may or may not be hallucinations. To say that Greenland is not a tidy novel would be an immense understatement. But that's the point. Kip is struggling to live fully as himself in a society determined not to see him clearly and only minimally interested in what he has to say as a writer. Not tidy. Chaos. This makes for a novel that is demanding of its readers. As you'll see if you peruse the reviews for Greenland, some show readers embracing Greenland's chaos, appreciating its complicated truths and contradictions, and some show other readers walking away from the novel and the demands it makes upon them. I'm not trying to depict a dichotomy here between "good" readers who get the novel and "bad" readers who don't. I'm just saying that either you'll find the payoff from reading Greenland sufficient or you won't. At times, I did experience reading Greenland as work—but I also experienced it as revelatory with a breadth of vision that challenged me to see Kip's world in totality, rather than just letting me take a stroll down one of the many trajectories he travels simultaneously. If you share my literary inclinations, you'll be carrying this novel along inside yourself for a long time to come, turning bits and pieces over in your mind and exploring all the different ways they can be put together. I received a free electronic review copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley; the opinions are my own.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Vivek Tejuja

    I have just finished reading “Greenland” by David Santos Donaldson, and there is so much unpacking to be done – not only where the book is concerned but also when it comes to my life. As a brown gay man, facing a terrible mid-life crisis, and trying to adjust to the world that’s rapidly changing around him, I couldn’t identify more with Kip, the gay black narrator of the novel. Kip Starling has decided to rewrite his novel in three weeks by locking himself in the basement. His novel takes him in I have just finished reading “Greenland” by David Santos Donaldson, and there is so much unpacking to be done – not only where the book is concerned but also when it comes to my life. As a brown gay man, facing a terrible mid-life crisis, and trying to adjust to the world that’s rapidly changing around him, I couldn’t identify more with Kip, the gay black narrator of the novel. Kip Starling has decided to rewrite his novel in three weeks by locking himself in the basement. His novel takes him in the mind of Mohammed el Adl, E.M. Forster’s secret lover, who was also a Black queer man like Kip.  This is where it all begins for Kip, or rather unravels. His need to be seen and heard, and then the juxtaposition of his life to that of Mohammed’s – both the other, both trying hard to fit in, both with great education and yet feels not accounting for much, each with white lovers, almost not knowing what to do with them. Each with a burden of their own. While reading this novel, there were so many times I thought I was reading my life, or at least portions of it. It is funny how art and life get mixed-up sometimes, that you cannot differentiate one from the other. As Kip navigates to find himself in the process of writing the book, I was doing the same with some parts of my life that felt strangely familiar and ones I could relate to from the book. That’s the power of good storytelling – of how it makes you subconsciously see within. Kip’s struggles are evident – the way not the world sees him as a queer Black man but the way he sees himself in relation to that. Donaldson takes us to the core of the book with Kip’s psyche – the fact that he was named after Kipling – a writer who has been labelled a colonialist, a jingoist, and a racist, speaks volumes about how Kip would turn out to be. The struggle to understand if he is black enough and how much black – when he starts dating white men, to trying to fit in with the “black community” at college, or even when simply trying to overcome his insecurities, he doubts, he second-guesses, he doesn’t have the confidence to perhaps be black.  Kip’s life then became mine – the struggle to fit in, to write my book, to understand where I come from, and be accepting of it, but more than anything else to embrace love when it is in my way. More than anything else, as a reader I was immensely drawn to the novel within the novel - when Kip's and Mohammed's voices became the same, when they were clearly different, when they both sought refuge in each other, and when they both tried to hide. Donaldson brings out all these elements with an honesty that shocks, surprises, and ultimately makes you surrender to the text.  Greenland is a book about love, about coming to terms with yourself repeatedly, about knowing when to give up and when to get back up and start all over. It is a book that is tender, full of angst (or at least that’s what I thought as a typical gay man – and proud of it), and about what it takes to be in interracial relationships. David’s writing is refreshing – at no point did I feel that I was reading something already written, though I am sure there are several books that speak of the LGBTQIA theme, linking it to a novel within a novel, but it shows that David has a fondness for E.M. Forster and that translates sublimely into this text. The redemptive power of literature is constant – almost in every chapter, as a subtext, moving slowly, seen at times, but reminding the reader that literature can save us and does. Greenland is a fantastic debut – one that isn’t shy of exploring difficult and complex emotions. It is a grand debut in the sense that it takes it risks and leaves the reader with awe, joy, melancholy, and ultimately with the knowledge that relationships are not easy and take a lot from you.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Phil Dowell (philsbookcorner)

    Narration: 5 Stars Story: 5 Stars RTC

  11. 5 out of 5

    Emily Carroll

    A Black gay author is on a quest to get published. On this writing quest, he finds many parallels in his character’s lives as his own and this forces him to reflect on his self perceptions and self worth that have been shaped by a white supremacist society. This coming of age novel poetically intertwines the two stories with the same battles-battles with finding your voice when the world is trying to tell you what your voice should or shouldn’t be and battles with white approval when the stakeho A Black gay author is on a quest to get published. On this writing quest, he finds many parallels in his character’s lives as his own and this forces him to reflect on his self perceptions and self worth that have been shaped by a white supremacist society. This coming of age novel poetically intertwines the two stories with the same battles-battles with finding your voice when the world is trying to tell you what your voice should or shouldn’t be and battles with white approval when the stakeholders in their lives-publishers, family, and lovers, are the gatekeepers of acceptance. Thank you Kismet Books in Verona, WI for this advanced reader copy of this beautiful novel.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Teddy

    24 November 2021: OH????? Pardon me, but this sounds FANTASTIC.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    *I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review* This book is a fascinating exercise in combining the story of the author and the story that the author is writing into one narrative. Chapters shift back and forth between the author's perspective and the narrative of the novel he is writing. At a few points, in the beginning, I was a little confused but everything made sense pretty quickly after and I was able to sink into the plot and the characters. This book is a powerful med *I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review* This book is a fascinating exercise in combining the story of the author and the story that the author is writing into one narrative. Chapters shift back and forth between the author's perspective and the narrative of the novel he is writing. At a few points, in the beginning, I was a little confused but everything made sense pretty quickly after and I was able to sink into the plot and the characters. This book is a powerful meditation on race and sexuality and mental health. Do not miss this one!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Drea

    Wow. This is an author to watch. Bravo! This is a novel about so much and the author brilliantly weaves themes about lgbtqia+ and being seen for who you are. It took me a couple of chapters to get immersed - don’t give up! Fascinating and lovely and challenging - in the best way. I finished and immediately thought what a great book discussion group choice this would make. Much to discuss, discover, and relish. Thanks to Amistad for the advanced copy. Im so glad I read this.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Laura Sackton

    Outrageously good. A perfect novel. What am I supposed to read now?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    OK this book wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read but it certainly was not anywhere near one of the best. I think my overall opinion is that it wasn’t ready to be published I needed a little bit more reworking. There are plenty of people that really liked it though and gave it five stars so what do I know. I just felt like my goodness get to the story get to the story already.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Julian Framstad

    Genius teetering on the edge of Madness, rants that echo from the tips of your toes to the birthing of icebergs, genuine heartfelt queer connection across space and time... yeah, this was my kind of book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kace

    I'm incredibly disappointed that I didn't enjoy this book. I had to stop reading at about the 40% mark because it was mentally painful to pick it up again and try to push through. I can tell this author had a lot to say and a story to tell. But several things killed this for me: (view spoiler)[- it took far too long to story. 20% of the way in and there is still just a man talking to himself and continuing to remind the reader that he "needs to get to the story about Mohammad and Forster". If it I'm incredibly disappointed that I didn't enjoy this book. I had to stop reading at about the 40% mark because it was mentally painful to pick it up again and try to push through. I can tell this author had a lot to say and a story to tell. But several things killed this for me: (view spoiler)[- it took far too long to story. 20% of the way in and there is still just a man talking to himself and continuing to remind the reader that he "needs to get to the story about Mohammad and Forster". If it takes a quarter of the book to set up what the book will be, you've lost me - It's indigestible. Is this a struggling author fighting to find his voice? a hidden gem of a story about a secret lover? a critical look at racism and nationalism then and now? a look into the intersectionality of race and sexuality through time? It can be all these things with the right storyteller, but it didn't work here. - The repeated and graphic juxtaposition of erections and spontaneous orgasms in the same section as casual mentions of child rape made me nauseous. (view spoiler)[ In all, I don't feel the need to push myself through more of this when it's not working for me. Many readers will love this story and the journey both Kip and Mohammad make, but I cannot. **Thank you NetGalley and Amistad for the eARC** (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)]

  19. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    There was a lot I liked about this book: a story within a story, the history, the discourse on racism as almost an intermission within the book, and many of the characters themselves. However, I could have done without all the sex. And there is a lot of it. I also started to get lost as Kip got closer to Greenland. Is that a way to make the reader feel as unmoored as Kip was? This is where the story lost me. It felt like the author wasn't sure where the story was going, floundered around a bit, There was a lot I liked about this book: a story within a story, the history, the discourse on racism as almost an intermission within the book, and many of the characters themselves. However, I could have done without all the sex. And there is a lot of it. I also started to get lost as Kip got closer to Greenland. Is that a way to make the reader feel as unmoored as Kip was? This is where the story lost me. It felt like the author wasn't sure where the story was going, floundered around a bit, and then when it came to the ending it felt rather unfinished and abrupt. Maybe a little extra editing and revising would have resulted in a more enjoyable book for me? Thanks to NetGalley and Amistad for a copy of the book. This review is my own opinion.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Camille

    Andover - Memorial Hall Library XX(1485539.7) Being acquired by the library 1485539-7001 Chelmsford Public Library FIC/SANTOS DONALDSON New Book 31480011570303 Dracut - Moses Greeley Parker Memorial Library FIC/DONALDSON Fiction 31482003006643 Hamilton-Wenham Public Library XX(1485539.5) Being acquired by the library 1485539-5001 Ipswich Public Library FIC SANTOS DONALDSON, DAVID Fiction 32122002950925 Methuen - Nevins Memorial Library FIC SAN Being cataloged 31548003427292 Newburyport Public Li Andover - Memorial Hall Library XX(1485539.7) Being acquired by the library 1485539-7001 Chelmsford Public Library FIC/SANTOS DONALDSON New Book 31480011570303 Dracut - Moses Greeley Parker Memorial Library FIC/DONALDSON Fiction 31482003006643 Hamilton-Wenham Public Library XX(1485539.5) Being acquired by the library 1485539-5001 Ipswich Public Library FIC SANTOS DONALDSON, DAVID Fiction 32122002950925 Methuen - Nevins Memorial Library FIC SAN Being cataloged 31548003427292 Newburyport Public Library FIC SANTOS DONALDSON D

  21. 5 out of 5

    Conner Horak

    On paper, I should have loved this book, but I guess it wasn't for me. I DNFed it a little over half way through. It had moments I really loved, but the core of the book just didn't hold. But I'm glad books that examine topics of race, sexuality, and colonialism like this exist in the world. I prefer THE PROPHETS by Roberts Jones Jr., but I can think of many readers who will love this book. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. On paper, I should have loved this book, but I guess it wasn't for me. I DNFed it a little over half way through. It had moments I really loved, but the core of the book just didn't hold. But I'm glad books that examine topics of race, sexuality, and colonialism like this exist in the world. I prefer THE PROPHETS by Roberts Jones Jr., but I can think of many readers who will love this book. Unfortunately, I am not one of them.

  22. 5 out of 5

    grub

    wow!?!?! trippy. wonderful

  23. 4 out of 5

    Never Without a Book

    didn't expect to enjoy this one as much as I did. didn't expect to enjoy this one as much as I did.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    3

  25. 5 out of 5

    Envy Schwartz

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jesper

  27. 5 out of 5

    🕊Faloni © arr 💰🏃‍♀️🥗✈️

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alex Smith

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cae Cae

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mara

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