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.
of note: I’ve included a few younger reads and older reviews this week.
—Sarah Ellis for The Horn Book reviews a middle-grade novel Dust of Eden by Mariko Nagai (Whitman 2014). “In this verse novel, we first meet Mina Tagawa and her Seattle-based family just before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.[…]The sheer volume of issues raised in the slim novel (racism, tensions between immigrant generations, the nature of American identity and patriotism, the liberation of Dachau, the Hiroshima bombing) can overwhelm the personal story, leaving readers somewhat disconnected from Mina. However, Nagai’s writing is spare and rhythmic — it’s real poetry.”
—Melissa (The Book Nut) reads Girl in Reverse by Barbara Stuber (Margaret K. McElderry 2014). “Lillian Firestone is an adopted daughter of Chinese heritage. Which makes her a target in Kansas City in 1951, the height of the Korean War. She took the bullying and name-calling when she was younger, but now that she’s 16, she’s taking a stand. […] I wanted to like this book. I love the cover, I love the ideas, the conflict. But I could never connect with Lily. She drove. me. nuts. Completely. And so I started skimming, skipping ahead just to see what happens. And yeah, everything’s tied up in a nice little bow. It had potential, and I’m sure some readers will really love the art and China elements. But I wasn’t really one of them.”
—Dolce Bellezza reviews Parade by Shuichi Yoshida (Vintage 2014, 1st pub 2002). “Four Japanese students in their early twenties share Apartment 401 together in Tokyo. They are convinced that the inhabitant of Apartment 402 is up to no good, and they make elaborate plans to disclose his occupation. Yet they are completely unable to face their own flaws, let alone the tragic and horrifying flaw within the eldest. […] I was so shocked at the conclusion I found myself reading the last twenty pages twice, carefully looking for nuances which could have led to such a surprising revelation. The clues are all there of course, just not laid out in an obvious, 21st century American way.”
—Kirkus reviews Trespassing by Uzma Aslan Khan (Metropolitan/Henry Holt 2004). “A contemporary romantic tragedy displays a startlingly fresh voice as Khan illuminates the complex social, religious, and economic mores of Pakistan while offering an outsider’s hard-eyed perspective on American attitudes during the first Gulf War. […] A rare, wonderful gift of a novel that defies mere plot synopsis: a complex fictional world that illuminates the real one and seamlessly merges the personal with the larger sociopolitical conundrums we all face today.”
—BookPage reads An Untamed State by Roxanne Gay (Grove Atlantic/Black Cat 2014). “Mireille Duval Jameson’s idyllic life is ripped apart when she is kidnapped for ransom in her wealthy parents’ homeland of Haiti. […] An Untamed State is hard to read but impossible to put down. It highlights the fragility of flesh and just how easily our bodies are broken by abuse and pain. Yet it also highlights the remarkable resiliency of the will to survive.”
—“Glow-in-the-Dark Jigsaw Puzzles” uses all the big words in Barry Schwabsky’s review of Arthur Sze’s book of poetry Compass Rose (Copper Canyon Press 2014). “War, love, eating, the indifferent processes of the natural world, the banality of consumer culture, spiritual longing, historical memory commingle. The scope of this poetry is Whitmanesque in its inclusiveness, though its rhetorical modesty is anything but Whitmanesque.”
—The Dark Fantastic writes “Why is Rue a Little Black Girl?” – The Problem of Innocence in the Dark Fantastic.” “(Author’s Note: This post contains racist images and language. Reader discretion is advised.)” “I believe that Collins’ construction of Rue as the symbol of innocence meant that some readers automatically imagined her as White. After all, in what universe is an older Black tween innocent?”
–“Diversity is Not Enough: Race, Power, Publishing” is an article posted on BuzzFeed in April (2014), written by Daniel Jose Older. “The publishing industry looks a lot like these best-selling teenage dystopias: white and full of people destroying each other to survive.” “I thought back over the many interactions I’d had with agents – all but two of them white – before I landed with mine. The ones that said they loved my writing but didn’t connect with the character, the ones that didn’t think my book would be marketable even though it was already accepted at a major publishing house. Thought about the ones that wanted me to delete moments when a character of color gets mean looks from white people because “that doesn’t happen anymore” and the white magazine editor who lectured me on how I’d gotten my own culture wrong. My friends all have the same stories of whitewashed covers and constant sparring with the many micro and mega-aggressions of the publishing industry.”
—Rich in Color hosts author Gabriela Lee in “Starting the Service: A Glimpse into Creating “The End of Service.”” “Lee [is]one of the many fantastic authors with a story inKaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories. “End of Service” focuses on Aya, whose mother, an overseas Filipino worker, dies while abroad. We are very excited to have Gabriela here at Rich in Color to talk about OFWs, her experiences in Singapore, and writing “End of Service.””
—Linda M. Castellitto for BookPage interviews Carlos Ruiz Zafón, “A Gothic Favorite Comes Stateside.” “One of my ambitions has been to go back to what those great authors were doing then . . . to bridge that sensibility of old Victorian Gothic tales and reconstruct them in a modern way.”
–And BookPage‘s Trisha Ping interviews Diana Gabaldon, “The Heart of a Series.””I have wonderful fans: educated, literate, intelligent, sane (something many of my fellow-authors envy) and amazingly kind.”
——Booklists, sites, etc.——-
The Dark Fantastic (as mentioned above) may be a site of interest. “Ebony Elizabeth Thomas [is] an assistant professor at Penn GSE who loves children’s and YA literature, media, and culture. (I’m also a former classroom teacher, a current fangirl, and will always be a dreamer.)” She maintains lists in her side-bar you will probably want to peruse.
My Little Pocket Books shares some more diverse “shelf approved” reading options here.
Chelsea Hawkins for Arts.Mic shares “9 Works by Indigenous Writers that should be Taught in Every High School.” “High school reading lists are filled with iconic American writers — Ernest Hemingway, Toni Morrison, Mark Twain. Among the list of American literary greats is a striking omission: the presence of Native American writers. It is time to change that.”