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.
–Nancy Powell (via Shelf Awareness) reviews The Hunting Gun by Japanese novelist Yasushi Inoue (transl. Michael Emmerich, Pushkin Press 2014). “A timeless, elegiac and masterful novella about a tragic postwar love triangle by one of Japan’s most prolific writers.”
–K. Imani Tennyson (Rich in Color) recommends we run out and buy While We Run by Karen Healy (Little Brown & Co 2014) the sequel to When We Wake. “Healey’s pacing in this sequel is much better balanced with heavy hitting points mixed with quiet moments between characters that really showcase the relationships in this novel. The themes Healey presents as well, such as the concept of collateral damage, she handles with skill and a deftness that allows explores the grey areas of political revolutions. Many YA dystopian novels that focus on revolution often have an “Us vs. Them” mentality and the fight is usually a “good vs. evil” trope. While Abdi, Tegan, and their friends view the Australian government as evil, through their experiences they eventually learn what it means to have to make those tough decisions and that sometimes you have to lose to win. It’s a very grown up lesson to learn and Healey presents those ideas well.”
—Stephanie Harrison (BookPage) and Jeffery Renard Allen (New York Times) read Laila Lalami’s The Moor’s Account (Pantheon 2014). Allen observes: “Some might argue that a good historical novel should peel back the past to reveal what at the deepest level we already know: that black or white, rich or poor, woman or man, Muslim or Christian, we all are capable of being monsters. But “The Moor’s Account” asks something else of fiction. Lalami sees the story as a form of moral and spiritual instruction that can lead to transcendence.”
And Harrison: “The Backbone of Estebanico’s story is brutal one that even the most disinterested history student will be familiar with. And yet, with Estebanico as the narrator and Lalami at the helm, the events take on such a deeply personal tone that it is all too easy to believe that The Moor’s Account is actually a long-lost memoir written from a shamefully overlooked perspective. […] It feels like one of history’s silent witnesses has finally been given back his voice. Whether you have a special interest in this period of history or not, Estebanico’s miraculous journey is not to be missed.
–Kelly Fineman (at Guys Lit Wire) reviews A Wreath for Emmett Till, by Marilyn Nelson, illustrated by Philippe Lardy. “Read this one for the subject-matter, which is important. Read it to remember, and to experience the power poetry has to move you and transform you and to make you consider the many angles–the sonnets are told from varying perspectives, including the tree on which young Emmett was hanged, his poor mother, and the hypothetical life he could have led. And if you are a poet, read it for the craft. The form itself is beautiful enough to make you weep.”
–Asian American Writer’s Workshop board member and resident comics expert Anne Ishii kicks off her new series of conversations with Asian American comics artists in The Margins with the Asian Canadian scene. She begins with Toronto-based comics publisher Annie Koyama. AI: “What did you want to be when you were little?” AK: “I am just one of those kids who never knew. I wanted to do languages. I studied criminology. I wanted to do social work. I did some volunteer probation work with young boys.” AI: “Sounds exactly like comics.”
–Hilli Levin interviews Teen fiction author Atia Abawi (The Secret Sky, Philomel) for BookPage. Levin: “What do you hope American readers take away from this story?” Abawi: “I hope the reader will understand the humanity that lives amongst the horror in Afghanistan. The majority of the Afghan people want to live peaceful and happy lives; they don’t want war, they don’t want rivalries, they want change for the betterment of their families and society. But it is hard for them because of the everyday challenges they face in their lives—obstacles that we can’t even imagine having to deal with.”
–Leonard S. Marcus (Publisher’s Weekly) talks Children’s Books in China in a Q&A with Xiaoyan Huang who is an editorial specialist for children’s books at dangdang.com, China’s leading online shopping service provider, and the country’s top online children’s bookseller. It is brief and massively informative, e.g. “Among the 581 state-owned publishing houses, 33 houses are designated by the government to publish only children’s books. These are known in China as ‘professional children’s book publishing houses.'”
–Amanda Nelson at BookRiot asks “How much of staying true to yourself while growing up in America’s cultural melting pot involves staying true to your (or your parents’) culture? Does embracing “American culture” mean you’re betraying your roots? Does America even have its own culture? We want to tackle big questions here, so tell us: what are your favorite books about growing up in America’s cultural melting pot? ” Check out comments for recs and the sponsoring book while you are at it.
–It was of interest to hear from across the pond when Malorie Blackman declared “Racist Abuse will not Stop Me from Seeking More Diversity in Children’s Literature” in The Guardian. The UK’s “cultural pie gets bigger, not smaller, as more people are allowed to partake of it. When children and young adults see their lives and concerns reflected in the homegrown books they read, the films and television programmes they see, the computer games they play, they feel they and their lives are not invisible. Seeing yourself in the cultural world leads to a sense of better social inclusion and a feeling that you are part of something, that you have a stake in it and wish to add constructively to it.”
—–Booklists, Sites, etc.—–
–Some more book recommendations for “Diversity on the Shelf” via My Little Pocketbooks.
—Koyama Press. “is a Toronto-based small press. Our mandate is to promote and support a wide range of emerging and established artists. Projects include comics, graphic novels, art books, and zines. We are known for our alternative edge and diverse range of titles that include a myriad of genres from autobiography to photography, from horror to humour, and more.”
–I’m going to place a review here, it’s of Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith (Putnam 2009). I enjoy how Alison (An Uncalibrated Centrifuge) writes the reader response. I sometimes am not sure to file her reading of a book under review or article. You be interested in her perspective and insight (as I am), she reads eclectically and you may notice how often I share her reviews here to inspire more diverse reading.