Cover Image: How to Say Babylon

How to Say Babylon

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Member Reviews

Reading this book was like eating a delicate piece of dark chocolate - it isn't always sweet, but it's best when savored and you take in every flavor. Compared to more trendy memoirs of late, this book is not one that I could fly through. I sat with every word. I put it down to digest what I had read. I picked up my phone and looked up a history and culture and religion so new to me. I learned so much and I feel such gratitude for Sinclair to share her story with us.

I highly recommend adding this book to your to be read shelf, you won't be disappointed!

Thank you NetGalley for a copy of  this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Beautiful writing and a captivating story. The insights into the Rastafarian beliefs and way of life were really interesting. There were definitely some traumatic and tough issues but I finished this book with a satisfied and optimistic feeling.

Thanks to netgalley and Simon and Schuster for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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I wanted to like this book more than I did. The writing was beautiful and captivating in some places, but just way too long and drug out in others. I started reading this one and evenutally switched to audiobook, and I will say the audiobook was a much better (and more enjoyable) format for me. I also think by the time I made the switch, I was around halfway, and that's when the story became much more interesting to me.

Sinclair spent a lot of time in her early younger than ten years old. While I know there was a lot of impactful content in those years, I appreciated her story more with her maturity and the reflection she was able to lend to experiences. I don't know if that makes sense, but I get a little skeptical about early childhood memories because, overall, I think we mostly lack the worldview necessary to afford those recounted memories with the truth and honesty they should have.

Regardless, I learned a lot about the Rastafarian culture - things I had no idea about at all! There were also some interesting parallels to the Rasta view of Western civilization and what's currently happening in the Isreali/Palastinian war.
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This was a heavy read and it took me a while to trudge through. Sometimes the words or patois that were foreign to me slowed me down. Sometimes it was so poetic that it took longer to fully absorb. 
A memoir of a child raised in a Rastafarian household, an evolving story of family and struggle and abuse. At the end, I’m still not sure I fully understand which parts of the family story  should be attributed to the religion vs the head of the household. 
The theme I appreciated the most was how females were held down but also the actual strength and origin of all that was positive. The author and most of her family are certainly self made and astonishing examples of working hard, persevering, and the benefits an education provides. 
I’m not sure I would run back to read more from this author despite her clear skill. The book was well written but just hard as the subject matter was hard. The florid language was a contrast. I feel like this could be a companion to literature classes that read the bluest eye. It’s not a fun read but it has value.
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This book was so beautifully written and a truly good experience to read the author really got through to the audience with her story.
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How to Say Babylon is a beautifully written memoir. I experienced many emotions, from grief and sadness, to hope and joy. Even inspired a bit of forgiveness. too. 
Safiya breaks free of her family traditions to find herself and own her voice. Readers learn greatly about Safiya's culture, and how her father's heartbreaking upbringing inspired his Rastafarian lifestyle, which created a prison for Safiya and her family. With her mother's love and nurture of education, Safiya breaks free, and here we are, reading her book.
I enjoyed learning about her culture and learning about Jamaica and its history. I also enjoyed reading about her triumph and success.
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How to Say Babylon is a coming of age memoir about a girl growing up in Jamaica, whose father is a Rastafarian and becomes increasingly strict with his family, particularly his daughters. I really didn't know much about Rastafarianism before the book and I learned a lot. Also, the author is a poet and it comes through in her writing. It is amazing how successful she's been given her childhood and a fascinating read.
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This was such a powerful story! I learned a lot and I thought the audiobook was so well done.i will be thinking of this one for a while.
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I heard this compared to Educated and I don't disagree. It is a must for memoir lovers!

Safiya Sinclair grew up in a Rastafarian household in Jamaica with a musician father who bordered on militant. Nothing from "Babylon", meaning the world in general, was allowed in their house (or houses as they moved a lot). Her father made it his number one priority to oversee her purity at the expense of comfort or friendships. She saw her younger childhood as happy, but she gradually comes to see that there is more to life and that much of what the women in their lifestyle have experienced is abuse and a patriarchy that holds them back. Her mother gives her the gift of books and poetry becomes essential for her. However, to move forward she has to break ties with the life she's known.

I gave this ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️. This was beautifully written. I knew nothing about the Rastafarian lifestyle and was intrigued. The patriarchy and culture that degraded women was so infuriating and I was so proud when she stood up to it. Her resilience and perseverance were amazing in the face of such control. She really painted a picture of the struggle to escape a way of life that is all you've ever known especially as a woman with no money. I could not put this one down! Since it was published before I finished the eARC, I did listen to some of it and she does amazing job reading it!

Thank you to @netgalley and @simonandschuster for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!
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How to Say Babylon is Safiya Sinclair's memoir which explores her childhood and coming-of-age into adulthood. Sinclair grew up in Jamaica in a strict Rastafarian household under her father's authoritarian rule, 

This is a heart-wrenching story that will stay with me, I am changed for reading it and have found myself pondering its intricacies for days since finishing. Sinclair's prose is dazzling and soars; the way she uses words to piece together a sentence is brilliant and nothing short of masterful and evocative. The fusion of beautiful language against gritty material is so powerful. 

I also learned much about Jamaica's history and in particular the Rastafarian movement, of which I had no knowledge beyond the image of Bob Marley on a tee shirt. 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy of this powerful memoir. Special thanks to Safiya Sinclair for sharing your story with the world. Yours is a voice that deserves to be heard.
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There is no way you can get through this book without tearing up. As a fellow Jamaican who has lived all but 2 years of my life in America, I knew nothing about the Rastafarian lifestyle. Sinclair brings it all crashing home though. This is her story of rejecting that lifestyle, saving not only her sisters, but also her mother, and perhaps in the end her father. It reminded me of the book Unorthodox, which I read many years ago. Sinclair's way with words is pure poetry, even when she attempts to write a memoir.  Her life seems so sad and small and I can't envision her writing anything happy after reading this. I will definitely check out her poetry collection, Cannibal. This book took bravery for her write and I can see why it took her 10 years- you need to be in a place of safety to deal with all the raw emotions this family trauma brings up. I wish her peace, and healing, and understanding.
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I really enjoyed the insight into this Rastafarian family. Safiya Sinclair has a clear voice and was unafraid to shed light on a difficult childhood and father, one who was seduced by the tenets of a religion but bastardized them in his fanatical adherence. I loved the descriptions of growing up in the lush vegetation of Jamaica, and I was scared for her when her father struggled with his life and decisions.

This is a memoir that reads like a novel, and I was so glad to learn of the happy ending for Safiya and her mother in particular. I recommend picking this book up if you're interested in learning what it meant to grow up Rasta in the 80s and 90s, or if you want to learn more about how it was living in Jamaica during this time.

Thank you Net Galley and Simon & Schuster for the ARC!
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For me to supposedly not like poetry, books written by poets are slowly becoming my favorites. Safiya Sinclair’s words are beautiful and masterfully crafted but piercing. I love that this memoir read like fiction even though I learned so much about Rastafarianism. I read a little of the book but listened to the audiobook primarily. Sinclair’s literal voice is mesmerizing! Seeing her grow and find her strength to stand up to her domineering father was intoxicating. Witnessing her inspire own her mother and sisters’ independence is formidable. This is one of my absolute favorite reads this year!
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As an educator in a school with many students and staff from the island of Jamaica, I was most enthralled with this story.
This is absolutely the story of resilience and the power of family and intelligence.
I cried especially when the story centered around sibling interaction and love..  I loved the introduction of the next generation with the birth of her niece.
This book makes me look and think twice of the true meaning of Babylon.
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I’m about to sing so many praises to this book. This was absolutely stunning. Beautifully written. I love when poets write prose, their talent with descriptions and carefully selected wording transfers over so well and they craft not only an amazing story, but the rhythm is there, the visuals are there, every smell and sound and emotion is there. 

I had never heard of this author/poet before, and I started listening to the audiobook and looked her up immediately. She is the narrator of the audiobook as well and you can TELL she is a poet. She reads with so much passion. It’s captivating. 

I switched over to the ebook to finish and the ending had me in tears. 

How to Say Babylon is going into my top books for this year. I highly recommend picking this one up. 

Thank you @simonbooks and @netgalley for sending this book for review consideration. All opinions are my own.
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I don't know who else needs to be invited, but Tara Westover (Educated), Jeannette Walls (The Glass Castle) and Safiya Sinclair should form some kind of "remarkable women survivors" club. Sinclair joins this illustrious group by way of a fiercely restricted and often violent childhood, where, like Westover, her extraordinary perseverance and accomplishment almost miraculously saved her from a completely untenable situation. The grace she offers her father is far beyond any I would have been able to muster in similar circumstances. Her lyrical prose is dramatic, moving, and, in some ways, jarring, as she describes a childhood that defies comprehension. I can't wait to read her next book, now that she has faced her demons and found her space to write.
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Jamaican post Safiya Sinclair’s memoir of growing up in, breaking free of, and coming to terms with her strict Rastafarian upbringing is raw and lyrical. Very powerful memoir about family, identity, heritage, and redemption.
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4.5 stars rounded up to 5.*

Holy cow.  I received this ARC before reading hype on this book so I also purchased the audiobook.  I am SO glad I listened to this.  Safiya Sinclair is a VOICE.  She is a true poet.

Her memoir is interesting for the uniqueness of her experience, but it is singular in that she tells her story with the mentality and intention of a poet.

Truly beautiful.

*with thanks to NetGalley for this digital ARC in exchange for this honest review.
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A beautifully written memoir of a woman raised under the thumb of a strict Rastafarian father. Most of the book is filled with anecdotes of fear and oppression from this man. The author gives a vivid description of the Rastafarian belief system as molded by her father’s interpretation. While, I enjoyed this book, and I know the author’s first love is poetry, I found that love seeped too much into what should have been a less wordy book. I also have a hard time with her apparent forgiveness and acceptance of her father after writing 95% of the book in the vein of his lack of worthiness for redemption. While this book is not her mother’s story, I would liked to have been given more of a glimpse into how she made her life away from the father. Maybe that’s another book. Thanks to NetGalley for a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
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How to Say Babylon is Sinclair’s reckoning with the culture that initially nourished but ultimately sought to silence her; it is her reckoning with patriarchy and tradition, and the legacy of colonialism in Jamaica. Rich in lyricism and language only a poet could evoke, How to Say Babylon is both a universal story of a woman finding her own power and a unique glimpse into a rarefied world we may know how to name, Rastafari, but one we know little about.

How to Say Babylon is Safiya Sinclair’s memoir of growing up in a strict Rastafarian household. I learned so much about that culture – all I knew up to this point was that Bob Marley was a Rastafarian and that smoking pot has a role in it. Safiya was not allowed to cut her dreadlocks or wear pants. Her father was intent on making sure she wasn’t corrupted by the outside world – what he called Babylon. She wasn’t allowed to have friends who weren’t Rasta. When she starts attending an elite private school on scholarship, she’s made of fun of by the other kids for being what they call a dirty Rasta.

Safiya’s father also beats her and her siblings when they disobey him, even for minor infractions. The belt he beats them with hangs up where it’s visible and can remind everyone of what’s coming for them if they act up. When Safiya gets older, her mother helps her submit her poetry to competitions and she becomes a fairly well-known poet in Jamaica at a young age. You can tell reading this book that she is a poet. Her prose is beautiful – so descriptive. The book reads like a novel. I had to keep reminding myself I was reading a memoir. Highly recommended.
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