The ‘Book of Addis’ Syllabus and Discussion Guide

Where can I find books on Black history, revolution, resistance and more? Where’s my #GetWokeStayWoke guide? Right here!


When 17-year-old enslaved girl Addis escapes from her enslaver, the first president of the young country Amerika, she unwittingly becomes the face of the greatest conflict in the nation’s short history. On the run for her life, with unlikely friends and a world of enemies, Addis becomes the most wanted person alive and a global symbol of hope for enslaved people longing for freedom.

Written in an 18th Century Black Diasporic vernacular, the 2017 Phillis Wheatley First Fiction Book Award and BCALA Literary Award-winning Book of Addis reaches back in time to explore the intergenerational impact of oppression and plots a daring path into the future. An epic tale of love, loss, and the cost of liberation, Book of Addis: Cradled Embers is the first novel in the 3-part literary fiction series Book of Addis.


“Raw, breathtaking, and inspiring.”

— 2017 Black Caucus of the American Library Association Literary Awards Jury

 “This is a brilliant piece of work.”

— Susan Cheever, best-selling/award-winning author, Drinking in America: Our Secret History


A For the People Press Paperback | ISBN: 978-0-692-72106-3| Price: $16.99


About the Author

Brooke C. Obie is the award-winning author of the alternative history novel BOOK OF ADDIS: CRADLED EMBERS. The first in a 3-part series, BOOK OF ADDIS: CRADLED EMBERS won the 2017 Phillis Wheatley Book Award for First Fiction and the 2017 Black Caucus of the American Library Association Literary Award for self-published fiction. Brooke is a graduate of Hampton University, summa cum laude, Mercer University School of Law, where she served as the first Black Eleventh Circuit Survey Editor of the Mercer Law Review, and The New School’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, Fiction program, where her novel proposal, which became BOOK OF ADDIS: CRADLED EMBERS, was a finalist for the Fulbright Fellowship. She’s attended Columbia University’s writer’s workshop in Paris, France and the Callaloo Journal of African Diaspora Arts & Letters Creative Writing Workshop at Oxford University. She lives happily in Harlem.




“I woke now, sure enough.” –Taddy


These books, films, musical selections, museums influenced the creation of Book of Addis©.


“Put a woman in a tight space, she liable to do anything.” –Dido

Kincaid, Jamaica, The Autobiography of My Mother.

Ladner, Joyce, Tomorrow’s Tomorrow: The Black Woman.

Morrison, Toni, Beloved.

National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice organization.

Shire, Warsan, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth.

Walker, Alice, The Color Purple.


“More joy, more love, more time to be more when you aint got to get nobody off your neck.”–The Griot

Crenshaw, Kimberlé. “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence Against Women of Color.” Stanford Law Review 43, no. 6 (July 1991): 1241-1299.

Hurston, Zora Neale, How it Feels to Be Colored Me.

Lorde, Audre, Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches.

Morrison, Toni, The Bluest Eye.

Skloot, Rebecca, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

Trudy, “Explanation of Misogynoir,” Gradient Lair, April 28, 2014.

Truth, Sojourner, Aint I a Woman?

Wallace, Michelle, Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman.



“You think cause a no-color man say he own her that she up to be owned?” –Taddy

Brave, Richie, “The Masculine Un-Masculine Masculine Male,” Tumblr. Oct. 25, 2013.

Byrd, Rudolph P. and Beverly Guy-Sheftall, eds. Traps: African American Men on Gender and Sexuality.

hooks, bell, We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity.

hooks, bell, The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity and Love.

McLean, Shay Akil. “Patriarchy and Gender Lesson Plan.” Web blog post. Decolonize All the Things: The UNsettlilng Reflections of a Decolonial Scientist in a Constant State of Rage. Web 2016.

Morrison, Toni, Song of Solomon.

Moonlight. Dir.  Barry Jenkins. A24, 2016. Film.

Newton, Huey P. “To The Revolutionary Brothers and Sisters About The Women’s Liberation and Gay Liberation Movements” 15 August 1970.

Smith, Mychael Denzel. Invisible Man Got the Whole World Watching.



“Have your own something.” –The Griot

Ahmad, Dora, Rotten English, A Literary Anthology.

Iweala, Uzodinma, Beasts of No Nation.

James, Marlon, Book of Night Women.

Randall, Dudley. The Black Poets.


“There be sides to this thing.”–The Griot

Baldwin, James, The Fire Next Time.

Césaire, Aime, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land.

Davis, Angela, Freedom Is a Constant Struggle.

Equiano, Olaudah, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano.

Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners. Dir. Shola Lynch. Realside Productions, 2013. Film.

Oney Judge (woman who escaped from George Washington and inspired BOOK OF ADDIS).

Shakur, Assata, Assata.

Simone, Nina. Revolution YouTube Playlist.

The Black Power Mixtape. Dir.  Göran Olsson. Story AB, 2011. Film.

Walker, Alice. Possessing the Secret of Joy.

Wells, Ida B., The Light of Truth: Writings of an Anti-Lynching Crusader.

Williams, Chancellor, The Destruction of Black Civilization.



“They kill a oji in flesh or spirit, for the good of the whole, then hide they bloody hands beneath white gloves.” –The Griot

13th. Dir. Ava Duvernay. Kandoo Films, 2016. Film.

Alexander, Michelle, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

Berlin, Ira, The Making of African America.

Chambers, Douglas B. Murder at Montpelier: Igbo Africans in Virginia.

The Constitution of the United States.

Douglass, Frederick, A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written  By Himself.

The Federalist Papers.

The Fugitive Slave Acts.

Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross (book and documentary series).

George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Haley, Alex. Roots: The Saga of an American Family.

Jacobs, Harriet, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.

National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The Rokeby Museum, Ferrishburg, Vermont.

Roots. Dir. Marvin J. Chomsky. David L. Wolper Productions, 1977. TV miniseries.

Slavery by Another Name: The Documentary Film. Dir. Sam Pollard. tpt National Productions, 2012. Film.


“Eboe be for truth telling.”–The Griot

Achebe, Chinua, Things Fall Apart

Adichie, Chimamanda, Americanah.

Adichie, Chimamanda, Half of a Yellow Sun.

Bayuba Cante, “Yemaya.” Song.

Kuti, Fela. Greatest Hits. YouTube Playlist.

Isiguzo, Andrew I., George Ukagba and Nkeonye Otakpor, “The Igbo Concept of a Person.” Africa: Rivista trimestrale di studi e documentazione dell’Istituto italiano per l’Africa e l’Oriente Anno 59, No. 2 (Giugno 2004), pp. 231-243.

 Olupona, Jacob K. African Religions: A Very Short Introduction



1) What do you think the subtitle Cradled Embers and cover image of a Black woman’s hands holding burning coals mean?

2) Dido reveals that her Eboe name is Ezinne, which means, “Good mother,” and tells her enslaver Ambrose that if he’d known what her name meant, that he “woulda done different by me and mine.” How different are Dido and her daughter Taddy’s definitions of “good” motherhood? What does the similar end result say about how slavery impacts Black motherhood?

3) How do the differences between the way Dido and Taddy seek to protect their children compare to the way Black mothers cope with oppression, even today?

4) The word “menor” is a made-up word with a negative connotation in the BOOK OF ADDIS universe, whereas “oji” is an Igbo word that means “Black” and refers to people in this world. What if any impact did reading a book about slavery without the usual slurs have on you?

5) Dido, Turk and Pompey are the real names of three Igbo people enslaved to James Madison’s grandfather, Ambrose Madison, and were accused of Ambrose Madison’s murder. From armed insurrections, to feigning illnesses and breaking tools to thwart the exploitation of their labor, enslaved people rebelled daily. How much were you taught in school about the many acts of enslaved people’s rebellions in America?

6) Within a system of White Supremacy, anti-Blackness is the degradation of Black people, culture, physical features, hair styles, ways of speaking and ways of being as less than a White standard. How did you feel about reading a story written in a Black vernacular? When you read the words “Black” and “dark” in Book of Addis, what do they signify?

7) Even though Ekwueme has been enslaved, he is able to learn to allow Addis to be her own person and make her own decisions, whereas Tembu, who is a free man living in a free Black community with women leaders, still desires to control Addis. What do these two examples of Black masculinity reveal about what it means to be a man, and a free person?

8) A consistent form of control over Black women’s bodies in America has been forced reproduction. How does Nnene reclaim control over her body after several instances of rape?

9) How did you feel about the way the Meroës handled their fellow villagers who did not want to join the revolution or leave for the Falls?

10) “Your chains aint mine,” Addis tells Sabine. Sabine has trouble finding her place in the revolution whereas Thom is more easily accepted, even if his words are sometimes clumsy. Both desire to align themselves with oppressed Black people. What does Thom understand that allows him the trust Sabine doesn’t readily receive?

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