Toure’s Soul City is a laugh-out-loud satire about black life and the conditions of the people. It goes from moments of hilarity to moments of silence deemed by heart-wrenching truths. Cadillac Jackson is a writer who comes to town to write about the city but is soon too caught up in its daily activities to write the first sentence.
Toure uses aptronyms where the people’s names match either their jobs or personal traits. He has characters such as Spreadlove, Ubiquity, Jiggaboo, Emperor Jones and a host of others as he goes through the spectrum of any town. From city government to the church or to the town’s favorite eatery (a buttered biscuit shop), Toure takes the reader on a thorough ride through Soul City with its fun, pathos and sobering history until the last drop is savored!
Spreadlove is known for his many women who have a blind allegiance to him regardless while the very poor live in Ragamuffin Projects which has been designed to let in minimal light. Loud music is piped through the community and when the speakers malfunction one day, the people are lost and terrified by the silence. They are at total loss and do not know what to do with themselves. Whereas, Jiggaboo has taken such a low role for profit that no amount of therapy can help his self-loathing.
Ubiquity is the town gossip whose entire goal is to garner a shock-effect from her victims, while poor Unicorn is exploited for his physical prowess and ends up taking his own life to put a halt to the pain. Some even voluntarily sign up for The Slave Experience where they live in chains, wear rags and are subjected to beatings for a year. They vow that they can take it for one year, if their ancestors endured it for a lifetime. And then, there is the Reparations check scam where the citizens get the $100,000 deposited into their checking accounts, only to see it constantly diminish in increments, though they had made no withdrawals.
Toure’s bold and unabashed look into the harsh realities of the black condition will cause the reader to laugh-out loud at times. In other moments, the starkness of certain situations may cause the reader to wipe away a slow tear. These caricatures and their daily antics give aha moments, shake-your-head moments and moments of sheer wordless silence.
January 7, 2023