{diversity in lit} Friday #16

 illustration by Francesca D’Ottavi
illustration by Francesca D’Ottavi

A few links to reviews, articles, sites, etc. of the Diversity in Literature concern from around a small portion the book blogosphere, accumulated over the past week or so.


A middle-grade read via Melissa (Book Nut): The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy (Delacorte 2014).  “the diversity of this one is my second favorite thing about it (my first favorite being the old-fashioned feel). I loved how Levy had a hugely diverse cast and showed how everyone is just. like. me. (Duh.) But she did it in such a way that wasn’t preachy. And I loved that. In fact, I want to hand this one to all the kids and say: “You know that person who is different from you? This will help you understand them.” I’m not sure that will sell this book, so I may just have to stick to “Penderwicks with boys.” I just hope kids read this one.”

–Found this via POC-Creators: The Recurrence Plot and Other Time Travel Tales by Rasheedah Philips (Metropolarity). “A journalist races against time itself to expose the entity preying on young male teens in Philadelphia. A crystal, memory-storing bracelet transports a young mother back to the day of her own mother’s traumatic death. An unknown force of nature causes time to start flowing backwards…  Using quantum physics as an imaginative landscape, Phillips’ debut speculative collection Recurrence Plot attempts to walk the fine line between fiction and reality, fate and free will, and past, present, and future.”

–Grace (Books Without Pictures) reads Octavia Butler’s Unexpected Stories (Open Road 2014), which “contains two previously unpublished short stories that were never released during Octavia Butler’s lifetime,” “A Necessary Mind” and “Childminder.”

“Butler is one of my all-time favorite authors.  She uses the platform of speculative fiction to deeply explore themes of race and gender, dominance and submission, and the use and abuse of power.  She sheds light on the dark side of human nature and shows how exploitation can become entrenched within a people’s way of life. […] As usual, I am blown away by her stories and can’t stop thinking about them.”–Grace

–Grace also shared The Farthest Shore by Marian Perera (Samhain 2014) a short while back. The third book in the Eden series which sounds like a good set of stand-alones for readers of Romance/Fantasy/Steampunk. “I’m extremely impressed by the Eden series.  Marian Perera has a knack for writing a feel-good pick-me-up romance that’s set in a fascinating world in a time of transition.”

–Heather (Book Addictionfalls in love with Cristina Henriquez’s The Book of Unknown Americans (Knopf 2014). “After their daughter Maribel suffers a near-fatal accident, the Riveras leave México and come to America. But upon settling at Redwood Apartments, a two-story cinderblock complex just off a highway in Delaware, they discover that Maribel’s recovery-the piece of the American Dream on which they’ve pinned all their hopes-will not be easy.”–publisher’s comments.

“I found everything I was hoping for in this book: a unique perspective, memorable characters, great writing, and a truly emotional story that brought me to tears. It’s really a beautiful novel in a lot of ways. I need to read more fiction about different cultures because I always, always love the fresh perspective and a look into a life different from my own. That was certainly the case with this novel – I loved getting inside the Riveras’ home and lives and understanding what the United States would be like (terrifying) for someone brand new to this country who doesn’t speak the language. […] Henriquez did such an incredible job getting the immigrant experience across to the reader and I so appreciate her doing so.”–Heather

–An old review ala Kirkus about Nadeem Alsam’s The Blind Man’s Garden (Knopf 2013). “The war in Afghanistan, as seen from the other side—or, better, another side. […] Aslam sympathizes not with causes, but with people, and this is a memorable portrait of a people torn apart by war.”

–Katie Noah Gibson (for Shelf Awareness) reviews Thrity Umrigar’s The Story Hour (Harper 2014). “Umrigar deftly highlights the contrasts between Maggie’s American upbringing and Lakshmi’s traditional Indian heritage, and while Maggie is better educated, she often lacks the kindness and self-awareness shown by Lakshmi. At times, both characters seem generic, like the houses in the bland college town where they live. Despite minor flaws, The Story Hour is a thought-provoking meditation on marriage, friendship and the ramifications of small actions.”


Tor.com shared a short story “A Cup of Salt Tears” by Isabel Yap you’ll not want to pass up. “Makino’s mother taught her caution, showed her how to carve her name into cucumbers, and insisted that she never let a kappa touch her. But when she grows up and her husband Tetsuya falls deathly ill, a kappa that claims to know her comes calling with a barbed promise. “A Cup of Salt Tears” is a dark fantasy leaning towards horror that asks how much someone should sacrifice for the one she loves.” Victo Ngai’s piece (left) accompanies it.

–Alison (An Uncalibrated Centrifuge) talks “About PoC.” “It can be a confusing term, so I thought I’d share some information about it. […]there are specific ways PoC should and should not be used.”

Book Riot shares “Book Club Suggestions if Your Most Diverse Pick was The Help.” “You’re searching for a new book club pick, and you want to branch out, but you have no idea where to start. You’ve read all of Khaled Hosseini, and you realize that despite the fact that Kathryn Stockett writes about minorities, she actually isn’t one, and Salman Rushdie is just too wonky for your book club.” Swapna Krishna offers up three suggested reads.

–POC-Creators shared this interview with Diana M. Pho in which they talk about interstitial life and art. Pho is “a scholar, activist, performer, and general rabble-rouser.” If you are really into Steampunk (and not just the bookish-sense) you may recognize her.

Ashley Hope Perez
Ashley Hope Perez

–Edi (Crazy QuiltEdi) interviews YA author Ashley Hope Pérez, “Her books bring the Latino experience to young adult literature. Her books include The Knife and the Butterfly (February 2012) and What Can’t Wait (2011), both from CarolRhoda Lab. Out of Darkness (CarolRhoda Lab) will be out in 2015.”

–while visiting Edi, read “SundayMorningReads” “I’ve got reviews to post this week, all books written by author of color. That’s my fight, getting more books out there with characters of color so that all young readers can realize there are brown kids who matter.”

–Booklists, Sites, etc.–

–Audrey (Rich in Color) browses for Historical Fiction and shares a few she found interesting enough to read–maybe you will find one or three as well. I did.

-Swapna Krishna is an editor and book reviewer who reads eclectically/diversely. She may be a book-blogger to add. Her review of The Story of an Hour, “A gorgeous novel full of hope and heartbreak, The Story Hour follows the lives of two very different women and how they change each other while dealing with serious issues such as race and the isolation of immigrants.”


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