Cover Image: Cack-Handed

Cack-Handed

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Member Reviews

Cack-Handed by Gina Yashere is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in early June.

Chaptered with friggin' awesome parables, this book is about Yashere's ancestry into Nigeria, being discriminated against during child and adulthood, yet also being disciplined, protected, and filtering through the best music and tv that England & the US has to offer, working and finding herself during her teens and twenties, diving deep into black LGBTQ culture, performance, and comedy, and traveling around the world.
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As a celebrity autobiography, “Cack-Handed” was wholly successful, which is to say that it fulfilled the expectations of the genre: we learned the internal life and backstory of a well-known person that we didn’t know until then. Gina Yashere is a comedian I have been following for several years, and so as a longtime fan of hers I enjoyed the experience of learning about how she became who she is now, and especially about how she was able to become so successful in a field as notoriously brutal as comedy. The book was thoughtful, often humorous—expected, being written by a comedian, but still notable—unsparing in its details and generous with the insights the author shared into how her life had unfolded until then. In this particular historical moment her observations about the ways in which being a Black female comedian shaped her career experience were especially apropos, and there are many takeaways that readers from all manner of career and personal backgrounds will hopefully take away after finishing this book. The Nigerian aphorisms sprinkled throughout the book were a really entertaining and engaging touch, and one concludes the book with an in-depth understanding of the myriad identities that comprise Gina Yashere.

I do wonder if the book would have been better served being divided into two separate works, though. As I read it I could feel the energy of the book shift around the point where the author transitions out of her mother’s home and into her own life as a budding comedian—from a reflective kind of energy to a more forward-propelling kind of energy—and I wonder if the narrative would have been better served by splitting it into two, with the second half of the book as the first in the series and the first half of the book as the second. The author writes with particular attention and fascination about her mother, so much so that I imagined the second book being titled as the affectionate nickname she has for her mother, “Mumzie Wumzie;” I think there is so much yet to be said about her mother that a second book devoted to her, and the author’s relationship with her, would be well worth the endeavor regardless. It isn’t a fault in the book so much as a possibly lost literary opportunity—again, as a celebrity autobiography it succeeds on the terms it is meant to—but Gina Yashere’s U.S. career is relatively new still, and perhaps this may be forthcoming yet. 

All in all a delightful read—a book I would gladly recommend to others, especially to Black creatives who may be actively searching for models of how to navigate complicated fields in a way that brings success while protecting one’s own integrity. This book is definitely one such model, and I look forward to reading more from the author in future.
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