10 Books Celebrating Diversity: A Guest Post

10 Books Celebrating Diversity: A Guest Post

Thursday, July 23, 2015

or, Ten Books Not Written by Straight White Males
A couple days ago, the Top Ten Tuesday theme was "Books Celebrating Diversity." This is something I feel very strongly about, because publishers need to be publishing work by more diverse people than they do. But something I feel more strongly about is listening to people who are different from me. I didn't want to be another straight white girl throwing out a list about diversity. So I asked a friend whose thoughts, poetry, and taste I admire greatly to share this space with me today. Enjoy Vanessa Borjon Fernandez's list, fill up your TBR, and check out her writing here!

Vanessa Borjon Fernandez
I was recently asked by Julianne to write up a list of ten books that celebrate diversity. I was glad to be asked this favor and immediately thought of some titles I could include, and it turned out to be kind of difficult to limit the list to top ten, but alas, here are ten books not written by Straight White Males that are immaculate and should be read urgently if you love literature. (In no particular order, besides #1 because holy hell it is the most beautiful writing I’ve ever read in my whole life. Please go read it right away.)

10. // M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang - There’s so much I could say about this play. Smart and terse and subversive, this play inspired by the opera Madama Butterfly, tells the story of a French general who falls in love with an opera singer whom he believes is a woman but is actually a male. M. Butterfly challenges Western Orientalism’s racism and sexism.

9. // Woman Hollering Creek by Sandra Cisneros - Reading this book feels like you’re sitting outside on a sunny day and you’re sweating and then the palatero walks by ringing his bell and you get a fresa paleta and then fall in love with someone with big brown eyes and you kiss and the kiss kind of tastes like fresa but then your new amor de amores has to leave for a long time and you go back to sitting outside in the sweltering heat. Don’t know what that feels like? Read this book to find out, or fall in love and eat some ice cream.

8. // Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston - In this book about black love and black womanhood (and a myriad of other things), Zora Neale Hurston tells the story of my favorite character in all of fiction: Janie Crawford. Beautiful and heart wrenching and complicated, this book is so good.

7. // Drown by Junot Diaz - A book of short stories by the famed Junot Diaz (who is as charming in real life as his writing is impeccable). Hilarious, complicated and hopeful—often times these stories are all three at once.

6. // Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler - Read this right now if you love science fiction.

5. // Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson - Read this right now if you’ve already read Lilith’s Brood. Read this right now if you haven’t.

4. // Atomik Aztex by Sesshu Foster - Holy shit. Reading this book felt like unlearning everything I knew about respectable whiteness in literature, like a dog walked over and took a dump on Walt Whitman and what was left was this ruthless book of fictionalized mythology where the Aztecs have overthrown Europe. Glorious.

3. // The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers by Bhanu Kapil - I was left speechless by this collection of prose poems, and I think this is a common occurrence for people who read this book. Let me think of words that come to mind when I recall Bhanu’s poems: pristine, beautiful, traumatic, fragile, glory. Read this book slowly. Live in each word for a while.

2. // Sula by Toni Morrison - I have so much to say about Sula but I will just say this to stay brief: This book taught me the power of female friendships. This book was written by the greatest American writer of all time.

1. // …And the Earth Did Not Devour Him by Tomas Rivera - An amalgamation of short stories and vignettes, Tomas Rivera writes about the lives of migrant workers through the eyes of an unnamed young boy who witnesses the injustices of growing up immigrant and Mexican and poor. Folkloric and haunting and lovely. The last five pages are so beautiful I am left speechless every time I read this book.


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