Sunday, December 21, 2008

TSS: Diversity Rocks!

What if we only read authors who were just like us? How boring would that be?

But when I take a good hard look at the books I've read in 2008, most of them happen to be written by white middle class people. Thirty-six out of forty-two, in fact, according to my LibraryThing library.

Not that I turn away from books written by non-white authors--but let's face it, there aren't as many (hence the term "minorities"), and they don't jump off the shelves into my arms. In some bookstores they're hidden in their own special section. If I'm going to stretch myself--and I mean, beyond Toni Morrison and Amy Tan--I'll have to make a special effort.

So, I'm setting a challenge for myself for 2009, and I invite you to join me.

Look at that button, isn't it cool? Alea of Pop Culture Junkie made it for me! I love the beautiful, bright butterfly emerging from the plain-covered book.

I've been hesitant to try to drum up enthusiasm for yet another reading challenge, because there are so many great ones out there and I know lots of challenge-minded people are feeling overwhelmed by them all. What if I host a challenge and nobody comes?

But here's the good news: all I'm asking you to do is commit to reading one book. Or, simply add links on my Challenge website to books you review that fit the criteria, to help me and others find them. Or tweak your reading lists, to incorporate one author of color in your other reading challenges.

Want to know more? Click on over and subscribe to Diverse Books! Even if you don't sign up for the challenge, I'll be posting diverse reading lists for every genre I can think of--there will be links to book recommendations and reviews--I'm even learning how to use Mr. Linky!

Oh, I almost forgot! I need book recommendations to add to my lists! Do you have a favorite author of color (be they black, Asian, Arab, Indian, Native American)? (And if it's Toni Morrison, Amy Tan, or Maya you have another favorite I might not have thought of?) If so, please tell me the title, genre, author's name, and their ethnic background if you know.


  1. My reading usually is diverse but I can always use more suggestions and broaden out wider. I'd like to do this one and I can offer a few suggestions too as I read a lot. I'll be back with them.

  2. It's easiest for me to post these recommendations here. Feel free to remove them to somewhere else if you like and erase the comment. And please remove any that you feel do not fit the criteria for the challenge.I have starred those I've read, the rest are on my 2009 tbr list:

    Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh (India) Booker Prize finalist
    A Mercy by Toni Morrison (African American)
    The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee (Chinese)
    Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden***** (Native Canadian) Giller Prize 2008
    Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden (Native Canadian)
    What We All Long For by Dionne Brand (African Canadian)
    The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer**** (Iranian American)
    My Father's Paradise by Ariel Sabar***** (Kurdish American)
    The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga***** (India) Booker Prize winner 2008
    A Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif**** (Pakistan) Booker Prize shortlist 2008
    The God of Small Things***** by Arundhati Roy (India) Booker Prize Winner 1997
    The Village Of Stone by Xiaolu Guo***** (Chinese)
    Let It Be Morning by Sayed Kashua**** (Arab Israeli )
    The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra***** (Algeria/France)
    The Attack by Yasmina Khadra***** (Algeria/France)
    A Window in Copacabana**** by Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza (Brazil)
    The Sound of Language***** by Amulya Malladi (Afghani Dane)

  3. Thank you so much, Sandra, this is awesome! There are at least a dozen here that I hadn't thought of.

    One question, because I'm planning to post these by genre/category: I know My Father's Paradise is a memoir. Are there other memoirs on this list? Or any that you'd put in a different category than General Fiction?

  4. I would suggest Jhumpa Lahiri (Namesake/fiction) and Interpreter of Maladies/ShortStory)

    A great challenge idea! I'm holding a personal challenge for myself to expand my genres, I could probably easily cover this challenge at the same time? maybe... (I'm trying to cross challenges as much as possible!)

  5. Absolutely, Care. I envisioned it crossing with whatever challenges people are already doing, so it should dovetail perfectly with that. (And thanks for the suggestion--I've never read Jhumpa Lahiri and I want to, so she's definitely going on my list.)

  6. I've never thought about my author's race unless it was an explicit part of the story. I just went though my list of the last bunch of books I've read and they are overwhelmingly white and American. I'll list a couple books written by minorities that I thought were good.

    Soldier: A Poet's Childhood by June Jordan

    Native Son by Richard Wright

    Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende

    A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

    The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (She's white, but grew up in China, speaking Chinese as a first language, but not looking like the other Chinese kids. I'd imagine it gave her a unique perspective.)

  7. Count me in for the challenge! I plan on reading six books. Here's a few books that I have on my bookshelves or wish list. All are fiction unless otherwise noted.

    Never let me go - Kazuo Ishiguro

    The Color Purple - Alice Walker

    Snow - Orhan Pamuk

    The Gift - Hafiz (poetry) Persian

    Lopsided - Meredith Norton (memoir) Black

    Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafron (Spanish)

    2666 - Roberto Bolano (Latin America)

    Bonsai - Alejandro Zambra (Chilean)

    Hope this helps!

  8. Great suggestions, thank you!

    N. Vasillis, I'll add you as a participant. Please sign up on the Mr. Linky at the Diversity Rocks blog, too, OK?

  9. I have trouble reading fiction by Caucasian writers now, myself--and when I do they seem so whiny. The White Tiger is one of my new favorites--
    Janet from PaperTigers Blog

  10. Hi Ali, I'm linking to your Diversity Rocks site tomorrow. Thanks for the mention!

  11. I think I am too freaky odd to have an author who is just like me...and isn't in the nut house. ;) That last part being an important!

  12. Janet, I've heard so many great things about The White Tiger. I'm looking forward to reading it this year, I hope!

    Carleen, thank you!

    J.Kaye, Hmmm. Not sure what to say to that! LOL!

  13. Ali, that was the only non-fiction on the list. The others are all literary fiction. Glad to see people starting to sign up. That's a great list N.Vasillis has, I've read the first three and want to read the Bolano too.

  14. I would recommend Waiting or A Free Life by Ha Jin. Also, Snow Flower and the Secret fan by Lisa See. Also, Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.

  15. Great, Sandra--I've got them all cued up to go in my next General Fiction post. Thanks!

    Rachel, Thanks for the suggestions!

  16. Sherman Alexie is my favorite Indian author. I especially liked "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian".