A few links to reviews, articles, sites, etc. of the Diversity in Literature concern from around a small portion the blook blogosphere, accumulated over the past week or so.
—A brief review (and link in which to read the story) by Dolce Bellezza: In a Grove by Ryunosuke Akutagawa (transl. Takashi Kojima, 1st publ 1922). “This fascinating story is the account of a samurai’s murder given to a high police commissioner from the perspective of a woodcutter, a traveling Buddhist priest, a policeman, an old woman, the man’s wife, and the murdered man himself (through a medium). As you read, you think that the story will become clear; each person’s revelation should surely uncover the truth about what was found in the grove. Except each person’s testimony only confuses the story further. With every account the blame shifts, the details change, the culprit becomes someone entirely new.” Which makes me think of Jesse Ball’s Silence Once Begun.
—Jessica at Rich in Color reviews (YA novel) Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine (Margaret K. McElderry 2014). “There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her … for a very long time.” (goodreads)
“In recent years, I’ve grown weary (and wary) of “Asian inspired” fantasy and sci fi books that end up being 70% cultural appropriation and names straight out of the dictionary. I was relieved and happy to find that Of Metal and Wishes is, as far as I can tell, not one of those books. Research has gone into this book and it shows, through subtle details and solid writing.[…]definitely a book to put on your to-read list.”-Jessica
—Kirkus Reviews reviews The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob (Random House 2014). “Jacob’s darkly comic debut—about a photographer’s visit to her parents’ New Mexico home during a family crisis—is grounded in the specifics of the middle-class Indian immigrant experience while uncovering the universality of family dysfunction and endurance. […] Comparisons of Jacob to Jhumpa Lahiri are inevitable; Lahiri may be more overtly profound, Jacob more willing to go for comedy, but both write with naked honesty about the uneasy generational divide among Indians in America and about family in all its permutations.”
—Shelf Awareness hosts Justus Joseph’s review of Our Happy Time by Gong Ji-Young (transl Sora Kim-Russell, Marble Arch Press 2014, 1st publ 2005). “Examines the role society plays in creating criminals and explores the price paid when people vilify and dehumanize others. She does not shy from hard truths, revealing her character’s inner conflict and humanity with a deft and practiced hand. This is an emotionally difficult story told gently, but does not leave readers unscathed”
—The same issue of Shelf Awareness shares Bruce Jacobs’ review of The Amado Women by Desiree Zamarano (Cinco Punto Press 2014). “Zamorano, director of Occidental College’s Community Literacy Center, eschews the stereotypical storyline of long-suffering Latina women keeping house for the rich. Instead, her protagonists are middle-class women with contemporary problems developing in the years straddling the turn of the 21st century. […]A finely rendered story of a multigenerational Latina family overcoming individual setbacks and tragedies.”
—Book Addiction shares The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis (Knopf 2012). “Captured here in twelve luminous narrative threads, their lives tell the story of a mother’s monumental courage and the journey of a nation” (publisher’s comments). “While it’s on the slim side, the connected short stories really worked for me and I felt deeply for the main character and her children. I connected with them in a way that was unexpected, given the nonlinear format of the book. Definitely give it a try if you like unconventional story-telling, fantastic characters, and an emotional story.”
so, the first two are not Literature related per se… but of interest (and somewhat related) nonetheless.
Juana Summer’s Q&A on NPR asks “How is The Native College Experience Different?” Adrienne Keene, a post-doctoral researcher at Brown University, author of the popular blog “Native Appropriations” and a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, answers.
—Marissa Lee and Imran Siddiquee visit Lee & Low Blog to discuss this issue: “Where’s the Diversity Hollywood? Sci Fi and Fantasy Blockbusters Overwhelmingly White, Male.” “Marissa Lee: The statistics are certainly striking, especially since sci-fi and fantasy belong to a genre that prides itself on creativity and imagination. These statistics aren’t necessarily surprising, since lack of diversity in Hollywood films is a well-known problem. There have been enough studies and articles, and any moviegoer can pause to notice there is a disparity. . . . Hollywood can’t go on pretending that this isn’t a problem.”
—Number Five Bus Presents…Sergio Ruzzier, Italian illustrator. “too often one hears things like “children will like this,” or “children will not like that,” as if all children shared the same tastes. I am also annoyed by the suggested reading levels, or recommendations for specific ages. I remember when I was maybe six or seven, wanting to buy a book, and the bookseller saying: “it’s actually for younger children.” My mother still bought that book for me, because I really wanted it, but to this day I still feel the shame and embarrassment I felt that day, forty years ago. A thing like that is such a subtle violence, if you think about it.”
–The Continental Correspondent Wim for Forbidden Planet features cartoonist Soufeina Hamed, “a 24-year old student from Osnabrück in Germany who has been making comics for quite a while now, first with typical big-eyed manga artwork, but lately in a more personal style, not unlike the art found in many alternative, autobiographical comics. She is also a young Muslim woman who freely wears a hijab as part of her religion.Since this is still predominantly regarded by many in the West as a symbol of the oppression of women by Islam (leading to actual state legislation on religious apparel in public spaces in France), Hamed uses her comics to explain what Islam means to her, and how we should learn to see beyond our differences in order to notice our similarities.”
—–Booklists, Sites, etc.——-
Horn Book’s Katrina Hedeen lists some options for “Cultural Diversity for Middle-Grade Fiction.”
Native Appropriations––“examining representations of indigenous peoples—is a forum for discussing representations of Native peoples, including stereotypes, cultural appropriation, news, activism, and more.
Author Aisha Saeed & the #RamadanReads campaign, shares the booklist for reading and helping support, “features books by diverse Muslim authors, including those who identify as orthodox, cultural and secular.”