The Rib King

The Rib King

A Novel

Book - 2021
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"The acclaimed author of The Talented Ribkins deconstructs painful African-American stereotypes and offers a fresh and searing critique on race, class, privilege, ambition, exploitation, and the seeds of rage in America in this historical novel."--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, NY : Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2021]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2021
ISBN: 9780062979063
Call Number: HUBBARD, L


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Feb 14, 2021

The ending goes off the rails a bit and left me wanting more. A fast-paced read up until this point, it's as if the writer suddenly got tired of writing and wanted to wrap up 10+ story lines in a few pages.

Jan 19, 2021

The Rib King is set in Chicago in the early part of the 20th century. The first half of the book tells the story of the upper class white Barclay house, and its African American servants including Mr. Sitwell, the groundskeeper, Mamie the cook, and Jennie Williams the maid. Out of desperation Mamie the cook and Mr. Sitwell create a delicious barbeque sauce which is later named Rib King. The businessman who markets the sauce takes Mr. Sitwell's image and puts it on the label.
Halfway through the book, a tragic event occurs, which influences the course of the rest of the book. The story changes perspective, and tells the story of Jennie, 10 years later, who now owns a beauty salon and is trying to market a healing salve that she has invented.
Jennie is a brave, hard working and tenacious character who survives and overcomes the many obstacles that have been thrown in her way. I really admired Jennie. Jennie's story converges with that of The Rib King's, Mr. Sitwell.
The Rib King examines the treatment of African Americans, the indignities, exploitation and abuses to which they are subjected and the stereotypes which persist to the current day. This novel is disturbing, thought provoking and addresses the trauma of racism. The themes addressed in the Rib King are relevant today.

Jan 19, 2021

Images of Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima will come to your mind as you read this book. The book will remind you why those images don’t reflect the real people behind these foods. Mr. Sitwell, the groundskeeper at a northern city (Chicago?) mansion in the early 20th century is one of two main characters. He is bright and he can take a taste of a food and name its ingredients. He is also a master at poisoning, but at first the reader is introduced to a Mr. Sitwell who is a positive role model for the young boys who also work there. When the owner of the mansion is close to financial ruin, he convinces Sidwell to be the portrait on a meat sauce. Of course, Sitwell is to get none of the money. The white men involved will make the money. Sidwell disappears after a poisoning and then house fire for which a white cook is blamed. The narration is taken over by Jennie who was a house maid for the white family. After recovering from the fire, she sets about creating a crème that will cure female yeast infections and work as a beauty crème. In her effort to find a backer for large scale production. In her quest she discovers what she remembers about the fire and Sidwell is not correct, and he may still be continuing his illegal ways while just like Aunt Jemima shared her pancakes, he goes from town to town demonstrating his meat sauce as the “Rib King”. And throughout all this the racism and inequality both economically and socially is shown. The story is a complex one with fascinating characters and a determination of those characters to rise.


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