📖: Saeed Jones’s How We Fight for our Lives (2019)
🍸: sangria in spain
Why this book?
Today is the last day of Pride Month, so I’m recommending Saeed Jones’ How We Fight for Our Lives, a poetic coming-of-age memoir that follows Jones’ experiences growing up as a gay black boy in the South through his early adulthood, navigating his relationship with his mother. In his story, Jones fights not just for physical survival as a black, gay man, but he also fights to claim his right to be himself at the intersection of his marginalized identities. Jones’ struggle for agency and power are intimately tied to his attempts to define himself in a world that is anti-black and anti-gay.
The book is also about Jones’ mother as it is about him. It begins with her and ends with her, despite Jones’ efforts to detach himself from his mother in his journey in finding himself. The memoir aptly closes with a reflection on how “our mothers are why we are here.” They are why we are.
Why this drink?
I made this drink because Jones shares bottles of sangria with a new friend Esther, who he meets on a visit to Barcelona. They tour museums, go to the beach, share meals together, and mutually realize that their mothers are the reason why they both decided to take this trip to Spain. I wanted to highlight this moment of discovery, hope, and comfort that these two individuals found towards the end of the story.
sangria in spain
1 bottle red wine
4 oz brandy*
1 oz maple syrup*
1 lemon, thinly sliced into rounds
3 cups of your favorite seasonal fruit, chopped up*
- cut the orange in half. juice one half and thinly slice the other half into rounds.
- red wine, brandy, orange juice, and maple syrup in a large pitcher or carafe, and mix well (or shake well if your pitcher/carafe has a lid)
- add the chopped fruit, and lemon and orange slices to the mixture. let the flavors infuse for at least half an hour before serving.
- you may leave it in the fridge to chill for 2-8 hours, if desired.
- serve with ice, optional.
If you don’t have brandy, I’ve read that you can replace it with a black spiced rum. I haven’t tried that but that sounds like it could be really interesting!
If you don’t have maple syrup, you can sub with a simple syrup made with regular white, granulated sugar or demerara sugar. You can also simply mix in white or brown sugar without making a syrup.
Seasonal fruits: use anything you’d like and/or whatever is available. I used peaches, strawberries, and blueberries because it’s summer. Apples, pears, nectarines, and pineapples also work. You can also add more or less lemon/orange to taste. The 3 cups measurement of chopped fruit is just an estimate — add accordingly based on your love for fresh fruit!
Thanks to Cookie + Kate for their Best Sangria Recipe !!
Another round, please! 🥂
You might also like:
Kiese Laymon’s Heavy (2018)
Finished the book? What did you think about it? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
And check out these reviews to learn more about the book:
- The Power and Hurt of Growing Up Black and Gay, by Benoit Denizet-Lewis, New York Times, October 8, 2019
- Saeed Jones’s Sensual Memoir of Race, Sex, and Self-Invention, by Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, October 10, 2019
- ‘How We Fight For Our Lives’ Is One Life Story That Finds Connection To Others, by Gabino Iglasias, NPR, October 14, 2019
- Our Bodies, Ourselves: On Saeed Jones’s ‘How We Fight for Our Lives,’ by Richard Scott Larson, LA Review of Books, November 24, 2019