No, I did not give up blogging for Lent… last Friday I had the flu and several big assignments to write and read. enviable, I know…I’ve been mostly off-line but for course-work, and am disinterested in writing more about what I am currently reading, even though I know you are dying to hear about Vanity Fair, A Tale of Two Cities and Medea; I should do something on the play: By the Bog of Cats–wow, good stuff. Today, I will post more reviews than not of books of the grown-up persuasion looking for great div/lit reads. Wondering, w/ the cross-over appeal, if I should add some YA-designated books as well.
Reading letters / Lectura epistolar (ilustración de David Galchutt)
…of note: just as I do not post only the glowing reviews of my own creation, I will occasionally share reviews that are not 4 and 5 starred written by others whose opinion I respect. For the sake of space, I will only do so with regards to especially popular reads, since there are more than enough stars to balance it for those new to div/lit reads.
There are some brilliant blogs and challenges out there that provide lists, reviews, or linking hubs for reviews regarding Diversity in Literature. I am going to list & link a few resources every Friday, as well as ome reviews of div/lit fiction for the grown-up shelf as I encounter them through the week. If you posted a review or interview that should interest adult readers featuring an author or protagonist of the oft marginalized due to color, sexual orientation, sex/gender, ability, etc. since last Friday, please share in comments. Do feel free to share your favorite resources in comments, I will share them in future Friday posts.
–Kailana, The Written World, reviews The Fragipani Hotel (Spiegel & Grau, 2014) by Violet Kupersmith. “I don’t read very many short story collections. I am so happy this one worked for me. I really really liked it!”
“Based on traditional Vietnamese ghost stories told to the author by her Vietnamese grandmother but updated to reflect the contemporary ghost of the Vietnam War, here is a mesmerizing collection of thematically linked stories, united by the first and last story of the collection.”–goodreads synopsis
–Boston Bibliophile, Marie reviews The Marrying of Chani Kaufman, by Eve Harris (Black Cat Press 2014) which “came out in Great Britain last year and was long-listed for last year’s Booker Prize. Don’t worry though- this is no stuffy “literary” book, although it is well-written, delightful and addictive reading.”
“Set in the present-day London neighborhood of Golders Green amid its Orthodox Jewish community, the story centers on a 19-year-old young woman named Chani who is about to get married to Baruch, a 20-year-old she barely knows.”–Marie describes… do read the post, it is short and winning.
–Melissa of Avid Reader’s Musings reads One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (orig. publ 1967). “Confusing and strange, One Hundred Years of Solitude is a classic but it’s not for everyone. I’m glad I read it and I think I understand magical realism a bit more. I may try to re-read it in the future and see if the style clicks for me.”
“The novel tells the story of the rise and fall of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the family.”–goodreads
–Jessica at Rich in Color reviews For Today I am a Boy by Kim Fu (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2014) , saying “I would hesitate to say that [the book] is strictly Young Adult literature, but I wouldn’t call it adult literature either. (What defines YA lit, anyway?) That being said, the categorization is unimportant. For Today I Am a Boy is a beautiful and incredible read that I would absolutely recommend to just about everyone.”
“At birth, Peter had been given the Chinese name juan chaun, powerful king. The exalted only son in the middle of three daughters, Peter was the one who would finally embody his immigrant father’s ideal of power and masculinity. But Peter has different dreams: he is certain he is a girl.”–goodreads
—Guiltless Reading reads Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi (Riverhead 2014). goodreads synopsis: “In the winter of 1953, Boy Novak arrives by chance in a small town in Massachusetts, looking, she believes, for beauty—the opposite of the life she’s left behind in New York. She marries a local widower and becomes stepmother to his winsome daughter, Snow Whitman.”
The guiltless reader’s take: “This entire novel is jarring. I felt like Alice slowly falling into the rabbit hole. The beginning started out wonderfully, albeit a little strange, but I suspended all judgement. But it got curiouser and curiouser … and weirder and weirder.” and apparently not in a good way.
Estella Revenge also reviews Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird. “When I finished reading, I was actually angry that I didn’t like it because I liked that first part so very much. If this had been structured differently and developed some of the peripheral characters more, I think it could’ve been love.”
–Book Nut reviews Patrick Ness’ The Crane Wife (Canongate 2013), “It did all the things I want a book to do: it gave me characters to care about, and transported me away from the dreary winter months. It delighted me, and made me wish I was even a tiny bit artistic.”
“One night, George Duncan – decent man, a good man – is woken by a noise in his garden. Impossibly, a great white crane has tumbled to earth, shot through its wing by an arrow. Unexpectedly moved, George helps the bird, and from the moment he watches it fly off, his life is transformed.”–goodreads
–Alison at An Un-Calibrated Centrifuge reads Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee (Warner 2007) “This book is 500+ pages long, but it doesn’t feel like a 500+ page book. Lee is a great writer. […] one of the best books I’ve read this year.”
“Competence can be a curse.” So begins Min Jin Lee’s epic novel about class, society, and identity. Casey Han’s four years at Princeton have given her many things: “a refined diction, an enviable golf handicap, a popular white boyfriend, an agnostic’s closeted passion for reading the Bible, and a magna cum laude degree in economics. But no job and a number of bad habits.”–publisher’s comments
Reading Intersectionally shares The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor (Penguin 1983). There is a link to an interview with Naylor, too.
“Once the home of poor Irish and Italian immigrants, Brewster Place, a rotting tenement on a dead-end street, now shelters black families. This novel portrays the courage, the fear, and the anguish of some of the women there who hold their families together, trying to make a home.”–publisher’s comments.
Sarah at What We have is a Failure to Communicate is reading Robert Bolano’s 2666 (Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2008) as a read-along taken in sections created by the book. “Even in this serious and heartbreaking section Bolaño has time to mess around, so as Richard predicted, I did enjoy it overall.”
“Three academics on the trail of a reclusive German author; a New York reporter on his first Mexican assignment; a widowed philosopher; a police detective in love with an elusive older woman—these are among the searchers drawn to the border city of Santa Teresa, where over the course of a decade hundreds of women have disappeared.”–publisher’s comments
–Grace w/ Books Without Pictures reviews The Broken Kingdoms (Inheritance Trilogy, Bk 2) by N.K. Jemisin.” can’t say enough good things about this book, and would highly recommend it.”
“Set ten years after the events of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, the book tells the story of a blind woman named Oree Shoth who makes a living selling trinkets beneath the World Tree in the center of the capital city, Shadow. Oree may be blind, but she is able to see magic, which makes Shadow the perfect place for her to live. The city is home to many godlings, including Oree’s lover, Madding. One day, Oree stumbles upon the corpse of a godling, and as more bodies start turning up, she finds herself caught up in a conspiracy that could threaten the entire world.”–Grace.
—My Little Pocketbooks collects some “Approved Books” (pt3) from the Diversity on the Shelf Challenge. more and wonderful titles to add to your reading lists.
—Farm Lane Books Blog shares the long-list for the 2014 Bailey’s Women’s Book Prize for Fiction, that includes Jhumpa Lahiri, a story of Hungarian immigrants to London, murder in Iceland, recent prize winner Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, India, Pakistan, and many and much more.
—Dolce Belleza shares the 2014 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize long-list: translations of: Arabic, German, Italian, Hebrew, Norwegian, Chinese, French, Spanish, Japanese, and Icelandic
Elizabeth Bird at School Library Journal “Top 100 Books by Indigenous Masters” “Everyone loves a good list but finding lists that reflect the intelligence of experts in a given field can sometimes be tricky. Consider, if you will, books about American Indians for the kiddos. I can’t tell you how many summer reading lists I see every year that have The Indian in the Cupboard, The Matchlock Gun, or even Rifles for Watie on them. Just once it would be nice to see a Top 100 list of books that could serve as guidelines for folks .
The Birthday Party Pledge site: “Studies show that children who grow up in a home filled with books do better in school, and teens who read for fun are better prepared to succeed in college. When you take the BPP, you agree to give the gift of books whenever a birthday or other special occasion rolls around. Help the children in your life build a home library, and let them know that you’re someone who values books and loves to read.” Genre lists are provided for book-gift ideas.
Reading Intersectionally (tumblr) “for woc who love to read … I thought it would be fun to explore and celebrate women of color through reading about each other’s experiences!”
Zetta Elliott hosts Qiana Whitted for a post titled “Yes, Comics Can Empower Black Girls!” “comics can tell deeply rewarding, complex stories about black women that affirm their intelligence, compassion, strength, and beauty on multiple visual and verbal registers. So I come away from the question with a different response, not only as someone who studies race and comics, but also as a black girl who has found much to love in a comic book!”
Lindsay Shrump at The Toast writes: “Missed Connections in a Gabriel García Márquez Story” http://the-toast.net/2014/03/13/missed-connections-in-gabriel-garcia-marquez-stories/
2014 Caravana de recuerdos Ibero-American Readalong [“Ibero-American” will be defined as having to do with all literature produced on the Iberian Peninsula–i.e. in addition to works written in the Romance languages, also including those composed in Arabic, Basque, Hebrew, and Latin–and all literature from the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries in the Americas] You have a full 14 months to read at least one measly Argentinean short story, poem, novel, or screed with me and only two months less than that to read something from one of the other countries’ bodies of work.” April’s reading: The Golden Age: Poems of the Spanish Renaissance. Spain/New Spain, Middle Ages & Siglo de Oro. [translated by Edith Grossman in 2007]