The Fascinating Revelations of Opal & Nev

by | Sep 7, 2023 | What I'm Reading, What I'm Seeing and Hearing | 2 comments

I just finished listening to a wonderful audiobook: The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton. (Did you know you can download free audiobooks through your public library? That’s right–you don’t have to give your money to you-know-who.) At first I was put off—this audiobook has something like 20 different people reading the different first-person accounts that tell this story, and I though that would drive me crazy. But 30 minutes in (or possibly less), I was hooked.

A couple of friends had recommended the novel to me. It is a fascinating portrayal of the business side of popular music as well as of the personal struggles of two fictional characters, a Black woman (stage name: Opal Jewel) and a white British man (Nev Charles) who perform together for a couple of years and make two albums that are initially commercial failures but go on to become cult classics. This is not a simple rags-to-riches story. Race and gender are at the forefront of their trajectory, and part of what makes the tale so rich is that we view their careers through the eyes of numerous characters who have different motivations and perspectives.

Ta-Nehisi Coates calls it “one of the most immersive novels” he’s ever read, if you need a second opinion! Highly recommended for reading or listening.