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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

“Chocolate Soufflé” – A Captivating Story of Seduction, Humor and Revelation Among Black Professionals in 1980’s and 1990’s NYC

Trish Ahjel

Author Trish Ahjel at home in Smyrna, GA standing before an NYC street artist rendition of her in 1993

Atlanta, GA — Just like Terry McMillan’s Waiting to Exhale did in the 90’s, the spotlight on friendships and relationships for young black professionals has been catapulted to the forefront with Chocolate Soufflé – a new novel by Brooklyn-born author, Trish Ahjel. The 80’s and 90’s are sometimes called the “golden age” of black urban culture, with the advent of legendary radio, music and nightlife, when it was not uncommon to leave the clubs in the early hours, grab a nap and a shower and head straight to the office. This was also a time of opportunity and exploration for the first post-civil rights era generation, and they were sure to enjoy the fruit of their parents’ labor and plant seeds for posterity. Out of the ashes of much destruction during the late 1980’s in urban America, there comes a story of relational evolution and personal growth.

Chocolate Soufflé takes readers on a journey of seduction, humor and purpose: showcasing New York City when the World Trade Center still stood proudly, AIDS was sending shock waves through the city, graffiti was rampant and the nightlife thumped to the rhythm of disco, house, reggae and hip hop. Ahjel’s book puts you in the epicenter of a legendary urban culture—from the artists and fashion to the answering machines and pagers. Her novel not only keeps the reader turning pages with her fluid prose and urban vernacular, it encourages readers to move beyond its pages and affirm themselves as “Cocoa Risers,” her name for fans of the novel. She goes so far as to encourage her supporters to “improve the global condition and work in community.” Ahjel uses the hashtag #sexyfunnysmart to promote her belief that women should show up in the media and in their personal relationships as the complex individuals they are and not as pared down versions of themselves. She also uses #CocoaRisers to remind her fans of their power to create a community to exact change, in other words, to “rise up.” This realization was notably brought to film recently with Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq which gives a satirical rendition of a similar concept: women have the power to change the world.

The book chronicles the lives of three young black professionals as they search for love, success and relevance in a rapidly changing world. It takes you to the corporations, clubs and conversations of the time, while still giving you permission to peek through the bedroom door.

There is Aura Olivier, whose parents and two siblings emigrated from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia when she was only two years old, born with sickle-cell anemia. Tall, dark and beautiful with a jet black mane of hair, Aura’s quite accustomed to the attention of men but fears she will not find a man who can love her despite her illness. Aura must learn to deal not only with the pain of her disease, but with her own shame and insecurity because of it, while struggling to be successful in the world of corporate advertising.

Eddie Ryder, is a recent immigrant from Abaco, Bahamas, who left his mother on the island to come to the U.S. with his philandering father. Tall, handsome and wild-haired, Eddie easily follows in his father’s womanizing footsteps until he begins to stop seeking his father’s approval and start questioning his example. Despite a successful career as a model, he eventually becomes bored by his easy access to women and begins to consider what he really wants out of life.

Sophia Boyd is a voluptuous, light-eyed beauty, who moved to New York City from Mississippi to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology to study clothing design. Her friendship with a lesbian leads her into an array of personal dilemmas, while the weight of her parents’ troubles in a too-long marriage seems to rest on her shoulders.

Ahjel says of her book, “There aren’t many books portraying the issues young black urban professionals faced during the 1980’s and 1990’s in New York City when drug use, crime and AIDS were rampant. How do you navigate that environment and still find love and professional success? My book gives the reader a sexy, funny, smart look inside the lives of each character and shows where they came from and how they drew on their roots to handle both the blessings and challenges in their lives.” She then concludes, “Chocolate Soufflé stands alone as a fun romantic drama that is both seductive and thought-provoking. The characters aren’t just outlined in the book—they are multifaceted and vividly brought to life.”

Trish Ahjel was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Her father was born in Jamaica and her mother in St. Lucia. She attended Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, and holds a Bachelor’s degree from the Metropolitan College of New York and an MBA from Long Island University. She currently lives in Atlanta, GA with her daughter and their two dogs. This is her first novel.

For more details about the author or the book, visit www.trishahjel.com or purchase the book at Amazon.com

 

PRESS CONTACT:
Trish Ahjel
917-887-3689
trishahjel@gmail.com

 

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