The Atlas of Reds and Blues
An arresting debut novel which bears witness to American racism and abuse of power, tracing one woman's shift from acquiescence to resistance.When an unnamed narrator moves her family from the city of Atlanta to its wealthy suburbs, she discovers that neither the times nor the people have changed since her childhood in a small southern town. Despite the intervening decades, the woman, known only as The Mother, is met with the same questions: Where are you from? No, where are you really from? The American-born daughter of Bengali immigrant parents, her truthful answer, here, is never enough. She finds herself navigating a climate of lingering racism with three daughters in tow and a husband who spends more time in business class than at home.The Mother's simmering anger breaks through one morning, when, during a baseless and prejudice-driven police raid on her house, she finally refuses to be calm, complacent, polite—and is ultimately shot. As she lies bleeding on her driveway, The Mother struggles to make sense of her past and decipher her present—how did she end up here?Devi S. Laskar has written a brilliant debut novel novel that grapples with the complexities of the second-generation American experience, what it means to be a woman of color in the workplace, a sister, a wife, a mother to daughters in today's America. Drawing inspiration from the author's own terrifying experience of a raid on her home, The Atlas of Reds and Blues explores, in exquisite, lyrical prose, an alternate reality that might have been.

The Atlas of Reds and Blues Details

TitleThe Atlas of Reds and Blues
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 5th, 2019
PublisherCounterpoint
ISBN-139781640091535
Rating
GenreFiction, Contemporary, Race, Literary Fiction, Cultural, India, Adult Fiction, Unfinished, Literature, American

The Atlas of Reds and Blues Review

  • Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
    January 1, 1970
    There’s so much I could tell you about The Atlas of Blues and Reds, but there’s so much I’d rather you experience completely on your own if you decide to pick this up. This book is a treasure and a standout. ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ The narrator, known as The Mother, moves with her family from Atlanta city-proper to the suburbs, where she quickly finds that, though decades have passed since her own childhood, not much has changed. The questions are always the same. “Where are you from?” “No, really- where are There’s so much I could tell you about The Atlas of Blues and Reds, but there’s so much I’d rather you experience completely on your own if you decide to pick this up. This book is a treasure and a standout. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ The narrator, known as The Mother, moves with her family from Atlanta city-proper to the suburbs, where she quickly finds that, though decades have passed since her own childhood, not much has changed. The questions are always the same. “Where are you from?” “No, really- where are you from?” The narrator was born in the United States to Bengali immigrant parents. But that answer is never enough. Now she has three daughters to protect and a husband who works all the time, leaving her to fend for the children herself. The Mother has been living on edge due to the racism she’s been experiencing, and it all comes to a head one morning when the police raid her house. Based loosely on the author’s personal experience with a similar raid, this story instantly comes vividly and sharply to life. The police call to her house is baseless, and rather than her usual complacency, her anger boils over. The Mother is shot. The Atlas of Reds and Blues is an enlightening portrayal of the experience of some second-generation Americans. It offers insight into being a woman of color at work, in the suburbs, as a friend, a wife, and mother. The writing is lyrical and the storyline completely immersive. Overall, I easily give The Atlas of Reds and Blues my highest recommendation. It made me think. It made me feel. It left me inspired. I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own. My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
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  • Robin
    January 1, 1970
    "No, where are you really from?"A brutal question to be asked when you are an American, born in America, raised in America. Hard to believe this is even a question asked in this century. But if your skin is brown and your parents are Bengali immigrants and you live in Atlanta, it's a painful reality.This debut novel is written by Devi S. Laskar, an American poet. The style is poetic, with short chapters (many only a sentence long) and characters given nicknames rather than traditional names. She "No, where are you really from?"A brutal question to be asked when you are an American, born in America, raised in America. Hard to believe this is even a question asked in this century. But if your skin is brown and your parents are Bengali immigrants and you live in Atlanta, it's a painful reality.This debut novel is written by Devi S. Laskar, an American poet. The style is poetic, with short chapters (many only a sentence long) and characters given nicknames rather than traditional names. She employs a distinct, fragmentary technique that may not work for some readers. I found it effective and powerful.The main character is a woman living in the American south (a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia) who one day finds herself shot in her own driveway, by the powers-that-be, for no-good-reason. It is based on the author's own life experience.The chapters are the recollections of this woman, as she lies on the pavement, dying, trying to answer the question: "How did I get here?" She is trying to make sense of it all, I suppose, as she bleeds onto the concrete and her life flashes through her mind.The flashes are unrelentingly awful. I was sickened, almost in disbelief, that a brown person living in Georgia can meet consistently with danger, suspicion, distain and discrimination, on a daily basis. In every single aspect of life - work, neighbours, strangers, the dry cleaner, even family (her inlaws are white). I kept thinking "this can't be present day! Is this possible?" It's not that I disbelieved the author, or that I'm overly naive, but I guess I have never been aware of this type of outrageous racism before and it shocked me.At first this alienated me somewhat. I had a hard time with there being a lack of even one example of a good white person. Even her husband, "the hero", is anything but a hero. He is always absent due to work, leaving his wife to fend for herself with the kids in such a hostile world. My reaction probably comes from a deep uncomfortableness that I have, a sense of responsibility I carry, for how white people treat people of colour. I felt it simply couldn't be this bad because I don't want it to be true. Also because I know there are lots of wonderful white people who are examples of decent human beings. I gradually have come to realise that this book about a woman who is laying in a pool of blood in front of her own home, does not need to make me feel better about white racism. This book doesn't have to be fair or equitable, showing consoling evidence that "of course not all white people are like this". We know this already, anyway. Instead, The Atlas of Reds and Blues is a painful and ruthless declaration that we have a long, long way to go. This was a punch to the solar plexus. I'm a reader whose eyes have been opened wider about the continuing experiences of people of colour in America, and the world. I'm glad that Ms. Laskar has used her voice in the way that she has. Elegant, angry, accusing, essential.
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  • Tucker
    January 1, 1970
    When I received a copy of “The Atlas of Reds and Blues” to review I was immediately struck by the gorgeous cover, a wonderful enticement to open and read the book. Devi Laskar has written two books of poetry prior to this book, and the rich and evocative writing of a talented poet were present on every page. Laskar’s actual experience with a police raid on her home by armed officers informs the book along with her experience as a second generation American daughter of Bengali immigrants. From th When I received a copy of “The Atlas of Reds and Blues” to review I was immediately struck by the gorgeous cover, a wonderful enticement to open and read the book. Devi Laskar has written two books of poetry prior to this book, and the rich and evocative writing of a talented poet were present on every page. Laskar’s actual experience with a police raid on her home by armed officers informs the book along with her experience as a second generation American daughter of Bengali immigrants. From that starting point she paints an intense, stunning, and revelatory portrait of the racism and misogyny those perceived as “different” or “other” endure with incredible amounts of tolerance and restraint. And it’s not only what they endure, but what the consequences can be when they are finally pushed over the edge.In a published interview Laskar reveals her primary motivation for writing the novel.“I believe that silence is ineffective. Asians are often cast in a “Model Minority Myth” light — we are expected to have good grades, great work ethic, become doctors and remain quiet. I’m also a former reporter and a woman; so I was expected to remain silent, keep my opinions to myself. Silence hasn’t worked. Positive change only comes after candid conversations, uncomfortable debate. I want to be a voice for change for strangers. I know what it feels like to be publicly mistreated, and I want to change things so other people don’t have to go through what my family endured.”I hope this book is widely read and provokes those candid conversations, increased awareness, and the impetus to make changes. I consider “The Atlas of Reds and Blues” a must -read, not only because of the important issues it presents, but also because it is brilliantly written, emotionally affecting, and absolutely unforgettable.
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  • Jill
    January 1, 1970
    Devi Laskar has performed a sort of miracle here: she takes the common (but always tragic) theme of the two Americas and she delivers it with an original style and a gut-punch that had me reeling.What is it like to be the daughter of Bengali immigrants – a woman of color living in a sanctimoniously racist upwardly mobile Atlanta suburb? For the unnamed narrator (we get two big hints of the narrator’s name much later on), it means constantly being subjected to commentary such as: “How long have y Devi Laskar has performed a sort of miracle here: she takes the common (but always tragic) theme of the two Americas and she delivers it with an original style and a gut-punch that had me reeling.What is it like to be the daughter of Bengali immigrants – a woman of color living in a sanctimoniously racist upwardly mobile Atlanta suburb? For the unnamed narrator (we get two big hints of the narrator’s name much later on), it means constantly being subjected to commentary such as: “How long have y’all lived here Do you even speak English? Bless your heart, you must miss your people. You stick out like a raisin in a big bowl of oatmeal.”When Mother (our narrator) is lying on the concrete floor bleeding out after a raid on her home (we know this from page one), everything that has brought her to this point flashes through her mind. The indignities that she and her three daughters have been forced to undergo in school. The harassment and intrusive comments from everyone from door-to-door salesmen to the dry cleaner aide and grocery check-out people. The comments on her color, her weight, her marital status.Ms. Laskar seamlessly weaves other parts of the story – seemingly unrelated but actually quite on-the-mark – in alternating chapters, some of which are no more than a sentence or two. There are scenes, for example, with her German Shepherd rescue dog, Greta, who despite past abuse, never loses her spirit or her capability for love. There are asides about Barbie dolls – many girls on the threshold of adulthood actually decapitate or microwave these dolls with their dream-home expectations. There are references to “my hero” – her on-the-road husband, which start off lovingly and become more and more mocking. And as all this builds, Mother can no longer do what she asks her daughters to do: keep a neutral face with a benevolent smile and absorb all of it to not place herself at risk.This is a wonderful book that builds in momentum as it goes along. I closed the last page with outrage that too many of us can treat other Americans with such contempt.
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  • Elyse Walters
    January 1, 1970
    “Oh Mother”.....You are an unforgettable narrator!!!!I was angry and sad with you!!!!My goodness... Powerful, brutal, beautiful poetic prose....Devi S. Laskar’s sentences are piercing!!!Fastest shortest ‘punch-in the-gut’ book- of- vignettes I’ve felt in any book this year!The ugliness is disgusting and devastating....Based on the author’s own experience as woman of color in America, in a wealthy suburban area!Shame on us, America!! Highly recommended!!!
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  • Rincey
    January 1, 1970
    This book isn't perfect, but I loved the writing style (which surprised me because I usually don't jive with more experimental books, but it reminded me a lot of books written in verse) and story that was being told broke my heart in its honesty and realness (which is based on the author's own experience with police raiding her home).
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    It was okay....That's how I'm rating this one. I REALLY wanted to like this and thought I was going to be blown away. Again, I'm standing here and wondering, "What did I miss???" It wasn't the structure of the book that bothered me. Normally, I'm fine with short paragraphs as chapters or even a sentence (in some cases). However, I think the structure of this and how choppy it was hurt my ability to read and relate or empathize as much as I could have. I'm not saying that every story has to be to It was okay....That's how I'm rating this one. I REALLY wanted to like this and thought I was going to be blown away. Again, I'm standing here and wondering, "What did I miss???" It wasn't the structure of the book that bothered me. Normally, I'm fine with short paragraphs as chapters or even a sentence (in some cases). However, I think the structure of this and how choppy it was hurt my ability to read and relate or empathize as much as I could have. I'm not saying that every story has to be told in linear fashion. However, there were some pretty disgusting things that happened to the character and my reaction was more, "This can't possibly be true (I'm not calling the author a liar - I just had trouble stomaching people (white people) being so openly cruel and transparent about being so racist). I know the racist P.O.S are out there, I just have never seen it spoken so overtly before. To a person of Bengali descent! Anyway, I didn't feel the same gut punch of a reaction as I thought I should have been feeling. It also could have been the tone of voice the author was using? She came across very snarky about it so I don't know - maybe it was the delivery and I was meant to feel that way. I guess my other problem was the fact that what the book slip cover describes as the time the narrator loses it and there is a police raid at her house as this big event and we learn almost nothing about it. We are introduced to the scene (again in short spurts) once it is happening. We don't know why it's happening, or what the resolution was. Maybe that doesn't matter - the point is that it DID happen and it DOES happen. Obviously, I have a lot of conflicting feelings about this book (do you like how this entire review is an inner dialogue with myself??), and I think it is GREAT to start a discussion and maybe that's worth more than feeling something sometimes. All I know is that I was left feeling disappointed because I wanted more.
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  • Zeyn Joukhadar
    January 1, 1970
    In THE ATLAS OF REDS AND BLUES, Devi S. Laskar explores the silences and the righteous anger of women of color in the face of white supremacy with deft tenderness and clean, shimmering prose. I recognized so much of my own experiences with white supremacy in the ways that the character of Mother navigates her silences in order to maintain safety and sanity under the constant drone of microagressions as well as violent racism and misogyny--until silence and safety are no longer possible for her, In THE ATLAS OF REDS AND BLUES, Devi S. Laskar explores the silences and the righteous anger of women of color in the face of white supremacy with deft tenderness and clean, shimmering prose. I recognized so much of my own experiences with white supremacy in the ways that the character of Mother navigates her silences in order to maintain safety and sanity under the constant drone of microagressions as well as violent racism and misogyny--until silence and safety are no longer possible for her, and she is moved to a final act that changes her own (and the reader's) perception of everything that came before it.This entire book is poetry, and Laskar, an accomplished poet, doesn't disappoint with the lyrical, luminous tone of this brilliantly crafted novel. ATLAS is a must read.
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  • Stacey A. Prose and Palate
    January 1, 1970
    I was not prepared for the onslaught of emotions I experienced while reading The Atlas of Red and Blues. It has been over a week since I finished it, and honestly, I am still reeling from it. Laskar's writing is stunning - consisting of short, poetic bursts that brilliantly convey the urgency, fear and frustration that is felt by the main character, Mother, throughout the entire novel. In it's brief 224 pages, Laskar addresses struggling with culture specific, unrealistic standards of beauty per I was not prepared for the onslaught of emotions I experienced while reading The Atlas of Red and Blues. It has been over a week since I finished it, and honestly, I am still reeling from it. Laskar's writing is stunning - consisting of short, poetic bursts that brilliantly convey the urgency, fear and frustration that is felt by the main character, Mother, throughout the entire novel. In it's brief 224 pages, Laskar addresses struggling with culture specific, unrealistic standards of beauty perpetuated by Barbie, enduring horrific stereotypes and racism, police brutality and Mother's struggle to raise her daughters to be proud of who they are when the people in their neighborhood and town bully them relentlessly. Inspired by true events from a police raid on the author's own home, she has created a thought provoking work that forces the reader to examine how they perceive and react to the circumstances and actions of people from backgrounds that are different from their own. She expertly spotlights the sacrifices and suffering a mother will endure in silence in order to protect her children and explores, to devastating effect, what happens when that silence is finally shattered. Many thanks to Counterpoint Press for sending a complimentary copy in exchange for my review.
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  • Jerrie (redwritinghood)
    January 1, 1970
    Did not enjoy this one. The writing was really uninspired and a confusing jumble of issues and events without any coherent story. This book starts when the narrator has been shot during a police raid. She then recounts all the awful things she’s experienced as a WOC in the south, where the people are apparently uniformly horrible. (They aren’t, though). Things jump around in time and place, and different names are used for the same character. Just confusing.
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  • Carmel Hanes
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a quick read--spare in information, concise in prose, large in underlying message. It takes the reader into a house of mirrors, propelling us around corners, backtracking through time, bringing us to abrupt stops, outlining critical moments within a lifetime of moments. The story is told through the perspective of a woman ("Mother") as she experiences what it means to be a woman of color within a white, non-accepting culture. A culture that assumes and judges despite the fact she is This book is a quick read--spare in information, concise in prose, large in underlying message. It takes the reader into a house of mirrors, propelling us around corners, backtracking through time, bringing us to abrupt stops, outlining critical moments within a lifetime of moments. The story is told through the perspective of a woman ("Mother") as she experiences what it means to be a woman of color within a white, non-accepting culture. A culture that assumes and judges despite the fact she is as American as anyone around her. It catalogs page after page of insults, exclusions, remarks, and expectations that whittle at the edges of her resolve; that burrow into her flesh like a societal tick. We know immediately the painful outcome to this gradual erosion of a human being, but are transported along a pinwheel of remembrances, of pivotal incidents through the remaining pages, in order to create a gradual understanding of the "why" behind where the book begins.The narrative format is a bit unusual and experimental. Not everyone will enjoy it. I was initially a bit put off by it, as this kind of format feels like a disjointed read--one that does not pull me into the story on an emotional level. The resulting "feel" is that I'm clearly reading a book, not falling into the story. It lost a star for that, due to my personal preferences, but still contained enough important content and impressive expression that I appreciated the novel.This is one of several books I've read recently that focus on race and racism, and bring to mind "The more things change, the more they stay the same." I am appreciating the improved awareness they are giving me, even as I become more discouraged that we still have so far to go.
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  • Erin Glover
    January 1, 1970
    Racism, segregation, and prejudice are alive and well in the South. If you don't believe me, just read this book. The protagonist lies in a pool of her own blood after being shot, as she looks back at her life in Georgia as a Bengali descendent. Make no mistake. She's American. She tells us over and over. Yet no one sees her that way. People constantly ask her where she's from. Some tell her to go back to her own country. The problem is, the US is her country. There is no room for her in Georgia Racism, segregation, and prejudice are alive and well in the South. If you don't believe me, just read this book. The protagonist lies in a pool of her own blood after being shot, as she looks back at her life in Georgia as a Bengali descendent. Make no mistake. She's American. She tells us over and over. Yet no one sees her that way. People constantly ask her where she's from. Some tell her to go back to her own country. The problem is, the US is her country. There is no room for her in Georgia. No one wants her there. That's obvious from the policeman who pulls her and tickets her, sometimes twice in one week, for petty or non-existent infractions. Her children feel the pain of being too different to fit in in the schools. No one can believe she works in a shiny downtown building as a crime reporter. A policewoman laughs when she says she works in the building. A white co-worker must rescue her.The story is told in a poetry-type manner in some chapters, containing only one or two lines. The chapters are short. This is a fast read, but a powerful one. Laskar skips around in time which can be confusing. It's not the type of book you pick up several times and read a chapter, then put it away. It begs for immersion, so save a block of time to feel the flow, or you'll likely get lost.White people reading this novel may be disturbed. They have no redeeming qualities in this novel. While some may doubt that this type of prejudice still exists in the South, they would be wrong. From personal experience, the Deep South remains a very segregated and prejudiced place. My experience comes from living less than two hours north of Atlanta, in Eastern Tennessee. Yes, white people still use the N word. Yes, white people live in segregated communities and go to separate churches. Yes, white kids go to different schools than black people.While the protagonist's plight may be slightly exaggerated (surely the policeman would recognize her after pulling her over in her neighborhood multiple times), Laskar's point that prejudice is still alive in the South is not a startling one for me. For those who have an idealized view of how race relations are in the South, this novel will shock you. You may not believe it. Sadly, it's true. I just wish the novel had a call to action so the rampant racism that still exists in the Deep South would end.
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  • Claire McAlpine
    January 1, 1970
    What a unique read, like flashes of a life, past, near present, present.Mother lies bleeding on her suburban driveway in a quiet neighbourhood, shot by police.Her hero (husband) may or may not be present.She recalls growing up in the South, where she was born, the questions nevertheless about where they came from followed soon after by, go back where you came from, American born and raised, her beauty unappreciated, her talent undervalued, her car pulled over relentlessly.We experience her helpl What a unique read, like flashes of a life, past, near present, present.Mother lies bleeding on her suburban driveway in a quiet neighbourhood, shot by police.Her hero (husband) may or may not be present.She recalls growing up in the South, where she was born, the questions nevertheless about where they came from followed soon after by, go back where you came from, American born and raised, her beauty unappreciated, her talent undervalued, her car pulled over relentlessly.We experience her helplessness and the progression of her dying state, lying there, witness to the banter of the police around her.Mother of three girls, a constantly travelling and inattentive husband, who shares not her ethnicity, seems not to understand the impact it has on her life in the community; 'be nice' he says.Snippets of her hurried life as she juggles everything, a job, a home, children, elderly parentsThe memory of their dog, Greta, come back to lifeMaybe it starts when...Just maybe she changes the day when...Perhaps she sinks into the muck of life the day that...And then there are those BarbiesStartling, insightful prose in an unconventional form, weaves tapestry of a family and one woman who tries to navigate a culture she was born into but not of, doing her best, confronting a reality that doesn't want to accept her as she is, that judges her without knowing, that wants to put her in her place.All this through demonstrations of flashes of her life, not a linear narrative, it's a picture building episodic creation of aspects of a life, in riveting prose, a portrait of Mother in hues of reds and blues.
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  • Martine Watson
    January 1, 1970
    Where to begin? I was so fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book, and I have to say it’s an absolutely stunning debut. This thoughtful, incisive prose, which often leans toward poetry, will haunt me for a long time, as will the message. But there is nothing didactic in Laskar’s exploration of the many faces of racism is America today. Her book is political, but it is also deeply personal. An incredibly moving read. I really can’t say enough good things about it, but just this—be sure t Where to begin? I was so fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book, and I have to say it’s an absolutely stunning debut. This thoughtful, incisive prose, which often leans toward poetry, will haunt me for a long time, as will the message. But there is nothing didactic in Laskar’s exploration of the many faces of racism is America today. Her book is political, but it is also deeply personal. An incredibly moving read. I really can’t say enough good things about it, but just this—be sure to read it!!
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  • Anne
    January 1, 1970
    I received an advanced reader copy from Counterpoint Press via The Book Club Cookbook. While I don't usually like poetic prose, I enjoyed reading this book. The story format is unique - the main character, Mother, tells the story through memories. The timeline is nonlinear, which can be frustrating at times. However, the more I reflect on the story, the more I like it. The book explores racism in America from the perspective of an Indian who was born in America. The story made me reflect on the I received an advanced reader copy from Counterpoint Press via The Book Club Cookbook. While I don't usually like poetic prose, I enjoyed reading this book. The story format is unique - the main character, Mother, tells the story through memories. The timeline is nonlinear, which can be frustrating at times. However, the more I reflect on the story, the more I like it. The book explores racism in America from the perspective of an Indian who was born in America. The story made me reflect on the racism I have faced throughout my life, especially after September 11. I recommend this book to everyone, but especially to those who think racism doesn't exist anymore.
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  • MRIDULA
    January 1, 1970
    “She closes her eyes and a kaleidoscope appears, the blue of the sky giving way to the red pulse of pain near her stomach.” An unnamed second-generation immigrant born to Bengali parents, also called The Mother is lying bleeding (from a gunshot wound during an impromptu raid) in her driveway. While the most question should be about the reason for such an occurrence, there is a bigger story that needs to be told first.As our unnamed protagonist travels back to her childhood days, we see her memo “She closes her eyes and a kaleidoscope appears, the blue of the sky giving way to the red pulse of pain near her stomach.” An unnamed second-generation immigrant born to Bengali parents, also called The Mother is lying bleeding (from a gunshot wound during an impromptu raid) in her driveway. While the most question should be about the reason for such an occurrence, there is a bigger story that needs to be told first.As our unnamed protagonist travels back to her childhood days, we see her memories comprising of a few questions that have been asked to her again and again: Where is she from? Why doesn’t she go back to her own country? Why is her English so fluent?There is also a lot of abuse, both verbal and physical. Most of these are subtle ways of hinting that people don’t actually believe that she was born in America and that she shouldn’t overstay. She grows up in a hostile environment and years later she finds herself married to a white man (her Hero ‘or’ Man of The Hour). She brings in to this world three beautiful babies, whose fate is just like her mother- living traumatized in a world who sees them as an outsider. “Time was fluid in the long list of past grievances.” There are lots of layers to this story. Each event is evocative, and the sheer brutality of mankind is tested again and again. There are a lot of tiny, but very impactful details that build up the story leading to the final conclusion. Well, if there’s such a thing.‘The Atlas of Reds and Blues’ begins where it ends and I keep wondering if the cycle of racism and abuse is the same. The story brought out a lot of emotions from within and every time this family suffered, it broke my heart a little. Every time people made vulgar assumptions about ‘The Mother’, it hit a nerve.The author’s brilliant use of the evolution of Barbie dolls gives an added dimension to the story as it represents the notions for beauty and body color being followed by people for years.‘The Atlas of Reds and Blues’ brings forth the troubles a human being has to go through because they are a person of color and the world isn’t as tolerant as it looks. The writing is ruthless and superbly defended. It comes from a place of pain and suffering, and that’s how the truth looks- terrifying and heartbreaking.
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  • Nadine
    January 1, 1970
    This book is a marvel of compression, yet light as a feather to read. Mother's story of racism and its infuriating macro and micro aggressions is relayed in a light but bitterly ironic voice - whether she's juggling three little girls and a giant bag of dirty laundry at the cleaners, sitting at her bathroom-facing desk at work, or bleeding out in her driveway. The lightness of the writing was also enhanced by the great use of white space - some pages contain just one or two sentences - but it se This book is a marvel of compression, yet light as a feather to read. Mother's story of racism and its infuriating macro and micro aggressions is relayed in a light but bitterly ironic voice - whether she's juggling three little girls and a giant bag of dirty laundry at the cleaners, sitting at her bathroom-facing desk at work, or bleeding out in her driveway. The lightness of the writing was also enhanced by the great use of white space - some pages contain just one or two sentences - but it sets off the ideas the way a frame sets off a painting. The kaleidoscopic-looking cover echoes the way Mother tells the story of herself and her family (beloved dog included) in colorful fragments.
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  • Kate
    January 1, 1970
    A Powerful, Emotional and Beautifully Written Book!This book is stunning! Inside and out! It grabbed me right from the beginning and didn't let go. Laskar has crafted a beautiful novel. Written in the most poetic prose she covers heavy subject matter, Racism, Stereotypes, Misogyny, Bullying and Police Brutality. This book is an emotional rollercoaster! As you watch a mother try so hard to raise her daughters and to be proud of who they are while they face unjustified harassment and bullying. It A Powerful, Emotional and Beautifully Written Book!This book is stunning! Inside and out! It grabbed me right from the beginning and didn't let go. Laskar has crafted a beautiful novel. Written in the most poetic prose she covers heavy subject matter, Racism, Stereotypes, Misogyny, Bullying and Police Brutality. This book is an emotional rollercoaster! As you watch a mother try so hard to raise her daughters and to be proud of who they are while they face unjustified harassment and bullying. It is completely heartbreaking but undoubtedly worth reading. This is such an important book. Reccomended reading!•THANK YOU so much to the Publisher for gifting me this stunning finished copy!•For more of my book content check out instagram.com/bookalong
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  • Charity Jones
    January 1, 1970
    I loved what the author had to say and I loved the way in which she said it (lyrically and poetically) but I was constantly thrown off by the literal structure of the book. There didn’t seem to be much fluidity or cohesiveness to the “recollections” being told. The racism portrayed in the book seemed to come across very conventionalized. In my opinion as a WOC, there were so many layers that could have been explored that were left unchartered. The synopsis draws you in because you want to know t I loved what the author had to say and I loved the way in which she said it (lyrically and poetically) but I was constantly thrown off by the literal structure of the book. There didn’t seem to be much fluidity or cohesiveness to the “recollections” being told. The racism portrayed in the book seemed to come across very conventionalized. In my opinion as a WOC, there were so many layers that could have been explored that were left unchartered. The synopsis draws you in because you want to know the details of WHY the police raid her home (aside from the obvious prejudice) but most of the book was spent alternating rather randomly between the past (focused on character building, I assume?) I was left wondering “why?” and “what does this have to do with anything?” after every few pages. The story just never solidified for me.
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  • Kari
    January 1, 1970
    The more I reflect on this book, the more I like it. Mother and her family live in Atlanta suburbia, and even though she is an American-born woman of Indian descent, she and her three girls are bullied and made to feel set apart in their neighborhood. Mother has married Her Hero, but he away on business and traveling the world so much that he is not aware of the issues his family faces, and quite honestly, it appears that if he did know, he still might not care. Told in short chapters and snippe The more I reflect on this book, the more I like it. Mother and her family live in Atlanta suburbia, and even though she is an American-born woman of Indian descent, she and her three girls are bullied and made to feel set apart in their neighborhood. Mother has married Her Hero, but he away on business and traveling the world so much that he is not aware of the issues his family faces, and quite honestly, it appears that if he did know, he still might not care. Told in short chapters and snippets, the story jumps back and forth from present (policeman shoots Mother in her own driveway) to her past, to her children's pasts, to her hopes for her future in her own country. This would make a good bookclub discussion book. Based on Advanced Reader Copy received from the publisher.
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  • alex
    January 1, 1970
    r.o. kwon wrote about this book in electric lit:Kiese Laymon says about The Atlas of Reds and Blues that he’s “never read a novel that does nearly as much in so few pages,” and that the book is “as narratively beautiful as it is brutal.” This debut is about a woman, the American-born daughter of Bengali immigrants, who has been shot by the police and lies bleeding in her driveway.and it immediately struck me so poignantly that i almost cried. i can't wait to read it.
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  • Deera
    January 1, 1970
    Oh my God. This book. Was written especially for me. Read it all today, the day it was released. The main character has been and lays bleeding in her driveway. She thinks back over her life and what may or may not have held her to this moment. A beautifully written examination of how a lifetime of discrimination and humiliation can pile up and weigh on the heart and mind. Run, don’t walk.
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  • Jamise // Spines & Vines
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars The level of racism and discrimination that Mother has to endure is not new but a reminder of how evil and inhumane other humans can be. I was frustrated while reading this book because of the blatant disrespect and appalling things she and her children encountered. The stereotypical assumptions by the community as it relates to a brown family, the horrible school officials & her insensitive husband. Overall I enjoyed the format and structure of this book. It was interesting and di 3.5 stars The level of racism and discrimination that Mother has to endure is not new but a reminder of how evil and inhumane other humans can be. I was frustrated while reading this book because of the blatant disrespect and appalling things she and her children encountered. The stereotypical assumptions by the community as it relates to a brown family, the horrible school officials & her insensitive husband. Overall I enjoyed the format and structure of this book. It was interesting and different. I look forward to seeing what’s next from this author.
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  • Kasa Cotugno
    January 1, 1970
    An unwarranted raid on a house inhabited by a second generation Bengali woman is the background for this examination of racism and hypocrisy in the suburbs. Told beautifully by an author who experienced such an outrage.
  • Barbara Ridley
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful, stunning! Readers unfamiliar with Leskar's previous work will immediately recognize that this debut novel is written by an accomplished poet. Written in a beautiful, lyrical style, this novel nevertheless covers difficult territory: the racism and abusive treatment experienced by a brown-skinned American woman born in a Southern town, and then moving later in life to an affluent Atlanta suburb. The novel opens with the protagonist, identified only as "Mother" to three young daughters, Beautiful, stunning! Readers unfamiliar with Leskar's previous work will immediately recognize that this debut novel is written by an accomplished poet. Written in a beautiful, lyrical style, this novel nevertheless covers difficult territory: the racism and abusive treatment experienced by a brown-skinned American woman born in a Southern town, and then moving later in life to an affluent Atlanta suburb. The novel opens with the protagonist, identified only as "Mother" to three young daughters, lying bleeding in her driveway after a violent, unjustified raid by the police, and then unfolds in a series of flashbacks to episodes from her childhood through teen years to adulthood. Everywhere she has to justify her existence, answer questions about where is she "really" from, defend her marital status or choice of snacks to rude store clerks, or deal with harassment from neighbors, employers and school teachers. Yet she shines through as a strong, resilient woman, trying to hold her family together and protect her daughters. A haunting portrayal of the persistent racism in modern-day America.
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  • Katy
    January 1, 1970
    Devi S. Laskar is an American poet, and this is her first novel. Written in short fragments, The Atlas of Red and Blues reads like poetry in many places, evocative and arresting. The main character is an American woman of Bengali descent who is only referred to as “Mother.” Her attempts to raise her children in safety in the American South are met with resistance and hostility. Like any nonwhite person from the South can relate to, she is always hit with the same refrain of “where are you really Devi S. Laskar is an American poet, and this is her first novel. Written in short fragments, The Atlas of Red and Blues reads like poetry in many places, evocative and arresting. The main character is an American woman of Bengali descent who is only referred to as “Mother.” Her attempts to raise her children in safety in the American South are met with resistance and hostility. Like any nonwhite person from the South can relate to, she is always hit with the same refrain of “where are you really from?” Throughout the novel, Mother fights to keep her emotions in check in spite of the blatant racism she and her children encounter, and finally during a police raid on her home, she can no longer remain silent. I didn’t know this when I was reading the book, but The Atlas of Reds and Blues is partially based on the author’s own experiences of having her home raided by the police. Her writing is vivid and her observations as unfortunately relevant as ever.
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  • Maggie
    January 1, 1970
    I am impressed by the poetic nature of the novel as it presents different terrains evolving over years as it weaves toward a disturbing final set. As one who writes poetry, I enjoyed the juxtapositions as well as the heart-rending events. Even Barbie is brought in and we all know how her body style shamed girls for decades. I recommend this book to all. I'm impressed.
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  • Christa Del Giorno
    January 1, 1970
    Reading this devastating, beautiful novel was an experience I won’t soon forget. Absolutely perfect.
  • Tanvi
    January 1, 1970
    This is a very difficult review for me to write, but it was even harder to read the book. And yet, it was compelling and unputdownable despite the topic and themes dealt with in the book being so heavy, intense and not very familiar to me. It took a toll. I was in parts sad, angry, frustrated, disgusted, enraged and scared while reading this book. When you put American clothes on a brown-skinned doll, what do people see? The clothes? Or the whole doll? Or only the skin? We’re told the story in s This is a very difficult review for me to write, but it was even harder to read the book. And yet, it was compelling and unputdownable despite the topic and themes dealt with in the book being so heavy, intense and not very familiar to me. It took a toll. I was in parts sad, angry, frustrated, disgusted, enraged and scared while reading this book. When you put American clothes on a brown-skinned doll, what do people see? The clothes? Or the whole doll? Or only the skin? We’re told the story in short snippets from a brown woman’s perspective in the third person, most of the main characters are referred to by nicknames, even the narrator herself is Real Thing when she was a kid and now, Mother. Her daughters are called by nicknames and so is her husband. This was annoying at times while I was reading but I think I now understand why it was code names/titles instead of the actual names and why the detached observer kind of storytelling. No one says anything, no one answers her question, asked in a myriad of ways: What happened here? All avert their eyes as she turns her head from one side of the crowd to the other, to gaze upon them, to see them, to be seen. Yet no one sees, no one chooses to see. The story begins as the narrator, Mother, is lying on her driveway as a result of being shot by a cop and as she’s bleeding out, she’s reliving her life in bits and pieces, trying to figure out what choice led her on the path to this moment in her life. So we see her as a child, as an adult, a wife, a mother, a journalist and most specifically, as a brown woman growing up and living in the US – constantly being misunderstood, misidentified as black, mistaken for someone else or ignored altogether. Apparently she cannot send even one of them to school. It is not safe. She is their only line of defense. She is the wall, the river, the buffer. She is the only thing that stands between them and the crazy world and the crazy people and the crazy thoughts outside. After everything she’s been through and has to go through on almost a daily basis, I deeply admire her strength. I liked how strong she is, always ready to fight for her children – it reminded me of one of my aunts. It’s not easy to confront injustice or discrimination when you’re in the minority and no one seems to have your back but she does whatever she can for her children. She offers herself a reward if she can just get through the next ten minutes without talking back, a trip to the bookstore, a hardback of her choice. This was a harrowing collection of every such incident of racism, discrimination, prejudiced behavior, bullying, insults and unfairness she has experienced and put up with all her life and is now seeing her daughter be targeted. It made me so mad to see how cruel people can be, I was aware before but not to this extent.Another thing that upset me was seeing how she kept it all inside, taking on more and more stress, grief, injustice and then fighting – whatever battles she chose to fight – alone. “That’s not the point. Other people shouldn’t tell us what to do with our own toys. Other people shouldn’t make the toys without making all of the stuff that is supposed to go with it.”“That’s part of the game. Other people make the rules and you have to figure out how to break the rules without hurting anyone.” I generally don’t read heavy books – but every once in a while, certain books come along that just demand to be read, certain voices that need to be heard.This book, like A Very Large Expanse of Sea and The Hate U Give that I read a few months ago, is such an important read in so many regards, primarily to bring to light how even the smallest acts of cruelty, insensitivity and ignorance can hurt others deeply. Also, to start conversations about the same and implore people to introspect and reevaluate their thinking and beliefs and maybe, just maybe do better and be better the next day. Maybe she changes when she spends too much energy thinking about things she cannot change. Perhaps she spends entirely too much time replaying that one-sided conversation. The ending left me a bit frustrated because it didn’t really answer why this happened and what happened next – and I get it, the narrator could only tell us what she already knew as she lay there dying and replaying all of the critical moments in her life. I just felt like something was missing.It was a really good read – we need more such eye-openers – and I’m glad I read it, huge thanks to Hachette India!Everybody needs to read this book at least once, maybe twice.
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  • Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
    January 1, 1970
    I picked up @devislaskar’s The Atlas of Reds and Blues during my lunch break and finished it the same evening! I don’t think I’d quite prepared myself for how swept away I’d be by this book!It is a uniquely structured and multi-lineal narrative, and had me instantly hooked. It is a moving commentary on race in America, particularly sharing the experience of a woman of color in her own family, at work, in the community, and with the police! I read in the blurb that this is based on the author’s o I picked up @devislaskar’s The Atlas of Reds and Blues during my lunch break and finished it the same evening! I don’t think I’d quite prepared myself for how swept away I’d be by this book!It is a uniquely structured and multi-lineal narrative, and had me instantly hooked. It is a moving commentary on race in America, particularly sharing the experience of a woman of color in her own family, at work, in the community, and with the police! I read in the blurb that this is based on the author’s own terrifying experience of a police raid on her home. The chapter structure, and their brevity (sometimes consisting of one sentence) worked brilliantly and I found the Barbie commentary fascinating as it paralleled the principal narrative.I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this book since I finished it, and was so moved by the prose and unique storytelling format used by the author to layer the complexities of this narrative. Absolutely brilliant and a stunning read!I’d be remiss to not mention the gorgeous cover, designed by @nlcaputo 🙌🏻. Thanks to @counterpointpress for sending this copy my way.😘
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