Naz at ReadDiverseBooks has started up a great conversation on the twittersphere with #DiverseBookBloggers. Those who blog, and are marginally represented in the literature that is widely available for consumption have been able to gather and discuss the needs and importance of representation and diversity. It’s not simply throwing around the word “diverse” and being satisfied with that, but examining nuanced, and respectful portrayals of various cultures, and the positive results that such portrayals can bring about.
Following the enthusiastic response at twitter, Naz then came up with this tag to promote the emerging works of diverse authors out there. With this tag, you can choose books that you’ve already read and would recommend, or ones that you wish to read. If there are none on your tbr list that doesn’t fall in the category, then you can check out lists on goodreads, or simply do a quick Google search. There are a lot of newly published authors representing a wide range of cultures and nationalities, so there’s plenty to choose from.
And as Naz says:
“Everyone can do this tag, even people who don’t own or haven’t read any books that fit the descriptions below. So there’s no excuse! The purpose of the tag is to promote the kinds of books that may not get a lot of attention in the book blogging community.”
Anyways, without further ado, here are my picks:
Find a book starring a lesbian character.
I saw this book around tumblr, and have been wanting to read it after reading the blurb. Juliet is just heading off to do an internship after coming out to her family. She’s not sure that her mother will be speaking to her again, and so when she goes off to the internship it’s with hopes that working for her academic idol will help her on her journey in discovering herself. I can’t wait to read this book. I’m always desperately searching for “new adult” books. “New adult” is the term that’s used for stories centering around those who have just left high-school, and there isn’t a whole lot of fiction about that. The fact that this story’s protagonist is also Puerto-Rican, and a lesbian just makes it even more rare, and even better.
Find a book set in Latin America.
This book has been sitting on my shelf for over a year or so, and there’s no way I wasn’t going to include it in this list. I’ve read some of Allende’s short stories awhile ago, and her writing is lyrically atmospheric. This widely loved novel of magical realism is an epic story of three generations of the Trueba family, and I can’t wait to immerse myself in this story. And don’t you just love that cover?
Find a book about a person with a disability.
Another book that’s been sitting on my shelf, judging me for still not having read it. Naoki Hgashida wrote this book when he was thirteen years old, and it’s his account of what it’s like to live with autism. It has been lauded for its honesty and heart, and answers all questions about autism that family and friends of individuals of autism have been curious about. I’m not very informed about autism, so I’m definitely looking forward to reading this one.
Find a Science-Fiction or Fantasy book with a POC protagonist.
I’m currently reading this one, and for someone who hasn’t read extensively when it comes to the Science Fiction genre, I’m thoroughly enjoying myself. Phoenix is an “accelerated woman”, a genetic experiment concocted and raised in Tower 7, a mysterious organization that specializes in such experiments. Phoenix has only been “alive” for two years, but has the body of a grown woman, and a mind which consumes and digests information like no other. Soon, however, events transpire that brings Phoenix to the realization that Tower 7 is nothing but a prison, and in an extraordinary burst of flames, she burns herself and her prison-like home down. That’s only the beginning of Phoenix’s journey however. This book is described as one of magical futurism, a unique label that I haven’t come across before. This is the prequel to Who Fears Death, which won the World Fantasy Award. Okorafor is a wonderful storyteller, and this is one I’d definitely recommend.
Find a book set in (or about) any country in Africa.
Darling has grown up in Zimbabwe, running between the shanty homes that she and her friends live in, playing games, and stealing guavas from those that are far wealthier than them. They all dream of escaping their country, envying their relatives who’ve run off to the West. Eventually, Darling, too, leaves Zimbabwe to live in the States with her aunt and uncle. Of course that comes with its own challenges, and Darling doesn’t find her life is nearly as fulfilling living away from her home country as she thought it would be. This one is a strange recommendation, because there was something about it that didn’t quite fit well. I remember the novel’s ending felt far too abrupt. At the same time, however, this novel is brazenly honest about Darling’s suffering. Her hollowed realization that her life is not turning out the way she hoped it would left me with a deeply sorrowful feeling once I finished. Bulawayo’s writing is minimal, but powerful, I think, and I’d recommend this one simply for its thought-provoking story line.
Find a book written by an Aboriginal or American Indian author.
I’ve seen this book around shops and libraries town but never actually picked it up. Perhaps if I had, I might have known that it’s a story about an Aboriginal girl, Oblivia, living in a future Australia, drastically transformed by climate change. Apparently, this book intertwines myths and folklore, as well as experimenting with linguistic phrases from English, Aboriginal languages, French and Latin. I have to say the premise intrigues me, so I’ll be getting my hands on this as soon as I can.
Find a book set in South Asia (Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, etc.).
This novel follows the lives of two cousins, Latha and Tsunami Wijesinha, chronicling their stories from girlhood to their maturation. Set during the emergence of the civil unrest in Sri Lanka, there are nuanced issues of caste and racism. The politics, however, are simply a backdrop for the story of the Wijesinha family. Latha’s vacation with her wealthier cousin’s family offers her a variety of experiences, and an escape from her more traditional mother’s views. As time goes on however, and a shocking scandal rocks Tsunami’s family, the girls find that it’s Latha’s family that offers the comfort and solace needed for two young girls trying to make their way in a harsh society. This book is steeped in beautiful writing, and wonderful references to literature. Yasmine Gonneratne is an academic of English Literature and her appreciation for it is obvious. Her own writing is masterful and honestly a joy to read. It’s a story that you’ll want to take slowly, just to be able to luxuriate in the wonderfully weaved sentences, and the fulfilling lives of the two girls.
Find a book with a biracial protagonist.
This is a recently published novel set in Seattle, during the anti World Trade Organization protests. The novel’s narrative is constructed around the view points of seven characters, though the central one who opens and closes the story is Victor. Victor is a young, biracial, homeless man who has been wandering the world following the death of his mother, and his realization that he and his father have vastly conflicting ideas of the world. He is homeless by choice, an individual who has become disillusioned with the world he lives in. Unwittingly he becomes swept into the WTO protests. To make things more interesting, Victor’s father is the Chief of Police, stationed to control the protestors. Of course, some very ugly and violent situations ensue. Yapa addresses a world of complex issues in this one: human rights, economic rights, racism, equality. However, the story hones in on the compassion and empathy that humans need to cultivate for each other.
Find a book starring a transgender character or about transgender issues.
Once again, this is an issue that I’m not very informed about, so I decided to opt for a piece of non-fiction. Let me tell you, it was a little difficult trying to locate a text available in my local libraries that was a piece of non-fiction, actually written about someone who is part of the transgender community. This one especially appealed to me because I’m quite interested in how feminism accommodates – or fails to accommodate – transgender women. Intersectionality is certainly important, and I’m eager to read Serano’s account.
There we are, those are my picks. If you’ve read any of these, do leave a comment and let me know how you found the experience.
I’d like to thank Naz for this wonderful tag. Though I do make it a point to read as widely as possible about people from all walks of life, I realized that I still have a lot of way to go in that regard.
Now to tag some other bloggers:
Sabeena at thepocbookreader
Emma at wellthumbedbooks
Morgan at happilyeverbookish
Stefanie at yourdaughtersbookshelf
Sophie at Portal in the Pages
Naida at The Bookworm
And if there’s anyone else who’s interested in this tag, please let me know and I will change that asap. I’m keen to know how you all get on. Hope everyone’s having a wonderful weekend!