{diversity in lit} friday #11 (re)sources

{illustration by Quentin Gréban}

A few Links to reviews, articles, sites, etc. of the Diversity in Literature concern from around the blogosphere, accumulated over the weeks since the last post of this kind. <deep sigh>…


—At The Pirate Tree,Terry Farish writes about Blue Gold by Elizabeth Stewart (Annick Press 2014). “Stewart links the story of Laiping in China with the story of Sylvie in Congo and the story of Fiona in Canada, bound by the raw material that makes up the key component of cell phones, coltan, or blue gold. […] Elizabeth Stewart writes as an advocate for human rights in BLUE GOLD.  She writes, “Many groups and individuals are active internationally trying to instill ethical standards that will help the Sylvies and Laipings of the world lead safer and more secure lives.”   To that end, Stewart invites young readers to ask, “Did anyone suffer during the making of this product?” and offers sites such as www.ethicalconsumer.org to help readers begin to understand.”

0 91quxzyjyIL—What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate‘s Sarah (tuulenhaiven) reads I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosín; trans. E. M. O’Connor (Atheneum 2014); which is a juvenile fiction adults can and will also enjoy. “The writing is pretty, even piercing at times, and Celeste is a character who grabs you. The ‘earthquake of the soul‘ line keeps ringing in my ears, and there are a couple of passages about what it means to be an exile that roughed me up a bit. I hope that there are kids out there who will be challenged and inspired by this book. It certainly gave me a lot to think about.”

—I couldn’t resist sharing this review by Lauren Eggert-Crowe for Trop; about Sawako Nakayasu’s The Ants: “This collection from Les Figues Press, Los Angeles’s best publisher of conceptual and experimental poetics, reads like a fantastical encyclopedia,  a journalistic bestiary of sentient insects. Straddling the boundary between prose poetry and flash fiction (is there even a line to blur anymore?) Nakayasu gives us a litany of half-page passages on the strange and ordered mechanisms of her imagined ant world.”

0 1 long-hidden-anthology—the Little Red Reviewer shares in a series of posts on the short story anthology Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History edited by Rose Fox and Daniel José Older (2014). “This is speculative fiction, but it is also historical fiction. Along with beautiful and sometimes haunting artwork,  each story in Long Hidden is subtitled by a place and a year, connecting and cementing everything that happens in this book with events that shaped history, many of which circle around colonialism, exploitation, slavery, and institutionalized dehumanization. Geographically, the stories range from India to Denmark, to China and Guatemala, and everywhere in between, offering a literal planetary scope of points of view. Dazzling prose, fascinating characters, and nearly everything I read had me running to the internet, Google, Google Maps, Wikipedia, typing in places, dates, names, and events.”

Books Speak Volumes reviews An Untamed State by Roxanne Gay (Grove Press 2014). “One of the best and most difficult and gut-wrenching books I have read this year. Gay writes in direct, declarative sentences infused with a raw, poetic power as she portrays Mirielle’s captivity and, later, her struggle to recover emotionally. […] But this novel isn’t just about a woman’s abduction and abuse. It’s about privilege and the circumstances that led to her capture. […] Gay is a powerful writer who eloquently handles the most difficult of subjects, and An Untamed State is going to stick with me for quite a while.”

————Book Lists/Challenges———–

Natural Histories: Stories by Guadalupe Nettel, transl. by J. T. Lichtenstein (Seven Stories Press)
Natural Histories: Stories by Guadalupe Nettel, transl. by J. T. Lichtenstein (Seven Stories Press)

Rich in Color highlights publisher Arte Público Press, sharing some YA titles to add to your reading lists from “the oldest and most accomplished publisher of contemporary and recovered literature by U.S. Hispanic authors.”

Deimosa Webber-Bey at Scholastic (in June) shared books to help readers celebrate National Caribbean American Heritage Month (which was June), but you can still reference the book list in July…

–Colorin in Colorado shares books for kids for those “Reading with Dad” occasions. The booklist is available in Spanish and English. “These books celebrate fathers and grandfathers, and the many reasons they are so special. Selections include a number of beloved books featuring diverse families.”

Rachel Cordasco for Book Riot shares her June fictions in translation. “I’ve highlighted some rather short but fascinating books from Argentina, Iran, and Mexico.”

–You can still join in on Japanese Literature Challenge 8 (via Dolce Bellezza)…or at the very least find good reading material.


Ishmael Beah
Ishmael Beah author of The Radiance of Tomorrow

—Felicia R. Lee writes about the “New Wave of African Writers with an Internationalist Bent” for The New York Times. “Black literary writers with African roots (though some grew up elsewhere), mostly young cosmopolitans who write in English, are making a splash in the book world, especially in the United States. They are on best-seller lists, garner high profile reviews and win major awards, in America and in Britain. Ms. Adichie […] is a prominent member of an expanding group that includes Dinaw Mengestu,Helen Oyeyemi, NoViolet Bulawayo, Teju Cole, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuorand Taiye Selasi, among others.”

—Laura Reiko Simeon posts at Lee & Low “Tearing Down Walls: The Integrated World of Swedish Picture Books.” “While “diversity” is not generally the first word that comes to mind when Americans think of Sweden, today fully 20% of Swedes are either immigrants or children of immigrants, many from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Combine this with Swedes’ commitment to children’s rights and a vibrant literary and artistic community, and you have the perfect setting for stimulating debates and boundary-pushing creativity.”

0 separate_never_equal–At Kirkus, Julie Danielson writes about “The Fight for Desegregation” in an interview/conversation w/ Separate is Never Equal author Duncan Tonatiuh. Quoting Tonatiuh: “Although legal segregation is no longer permitted in U.S. schools, a great deal of segregation still happens today. I get to visit schools in different parts of the country to read and talk about my books. I see that poor schools in poor neighborhoods are mostly attended by Latino and African American students, while wealthy schools in wealthy neighborhoods are mostly attended by white children. Although Sylvia’s story happened 70 years ago, it is very relevant to children today.”

–Tambay A. Obenson contemplates “Novel Franchises Built Around Black Characters That Could Also Be Film Franchises” (back in May, I know)…”The question this time is to list potential film franchises based on the lives of characters of African descent, with novels being the source material, since Hollywood’s love affair with novel adaptations seems to only be intensifying – especially those in a series that have the potential to be film franchises, and hopefully box office triumphs.”

–Kimblio hosts “18 Questions with Daniel Jose Older” In answer to the 18th question: “Half Resurrection Blues, which comes out from Penguin’s Roc imprint in January, is a prequel to my short story collection Salsa Nocturna. It’s about Carlos Delacruz, who is half dead and half alive, living in that in-between space amongs the living and dead. It’s a sort of retake on the Cupid & Psyche myth, which I’ve always loved, and somewhat an urban fantasy riff on identity, culture and power. Wrapped up in a good mystery and love story.”

—John Green’s CrashCourses are fantastic. This one is “Langston Hughes & the Harlem Renaissance

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