diverse fiction

Diversity Spotlight Thursday: #15

DIVERSE SPOTLIGHT


Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by yours truly. Every week, you come up with one book in each of three different categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and one that has not yet been released. You can check out the announcement post for more information.

P.S. if you decide to participate (yay!), please feel free to use the graphics in this post. No credit is required! Also, if you link back to this post or the announcement post, and I’ll add a link to your post to mine!


READ

 all the lightAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

“Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.”

I read this book last year, I believe, and I really enjoyed it – you’ve probably heard of it now, but you may not know that the protagonist of this book is blind. I’d never read a book with a blind protagonist before, and I was blown away by the beauty with which Doerr writes the world as Marie-Laure experiences it; his descriptions are almost tangible, the feelings he injects into his prose are incredible. This is a sad, devastating book and it will break your heart, but it’s such a wonderful, poignant read- you need it in your life.


Goodreads | Amazon

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5997336Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie

“Beginning on August 9, 1945, in Nagasaki, and ending in a prison cell in the United States in 2002, as a man is waiting to be sent to Guantánamo Bay, Burnt Shadows is an epic narrative of love and betrayal.

Hiroko Tanaka is twenty-one and in love with the man she is to marry, Konrad Weiss. As she steps onto her veranda, wrapped in a kimono with three black cranes swooping across the back, her world is suddenly and irrevocably altered. In the numbing aftermath of the atomic bomb that obliterates everything she has known, all that remains are the bird-shaped burns on her back, an indelible reminder of the world she has lost. In search of new beginnings, two years later, Hiroko travels to Delhi. It is there that her life will become intertwined with that of Konrad’s half sister, Elizabeth, her husband, James Burton, and their employee, Sajjad Ashraf, from whom she starts to learn Urdu.

With the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan, Hiroko will find herself displaced once again, in a world where old wars are replaced by new conflicts. But the shadows of history—personal and political—are cast over the interrelated worlds of the Burtons, the Ashrafs, and the Tanakas as they are transported from Pakistan to New York and, in the novel’s astonishing climax, to Afghanistan in the immediate wake of 9/11. The ties that have bound these families together over decades and generations are tested to the extreme, with unforeseeable consequences.”

Kamila Shamsie is arguably one of Pakistan’s most well-known authors, and I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never read anything by her. When I was browsing her books online, this was the one that struck out to me the most- particularly because it’s about a Japanese woman living during and after the India-Pakistan partition. I’m interested to see how Shamsie deals with themes of war and displacement- sounds complex!


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coming soon

29073707It’s Not Like It’s a Secret by Misa Sugiura

“Sixteen-year-old Sana Kiyohara has too many secrets. Some are small, like how it bothers her when her friends don’t invite her to parties. Some are big, like that fact that her father may be having an affair. And then there’s the one that she can barely even admit to herself—the one about how she might have a crush on her best friend.

When Sana and her family move to California she begins to wonder if it’s finally time for some honesty, especially after she meets Jamie Ramirez. Jamie is beautiful and smart and unlike anyone Sana’s ever known. There are just a few problems: Sana’s new friends don’t trust Jamie’s crowd; Jamie’s friends clearly don’t want her around anyway; and a sweet guy named Caleb seems to have more-than-friendly feelings for her. Meanwhile, her dad’s affair is becoming too obvious to ignore anymore.

Sana always figured that the hardest thing would be to tell people that she wants to date a girl, but as she quickly learns, telling the truth is easy… what comes after it, though, is a whole lot more complicated.”

Biracial f/f contemporary? That sounds freaking awesome? This isn’t a book that’s “coming soon” per se (May’s pretty far away tbh), but it’s one that I very recently came across and wanted to tell you all about.

This book releases on May 9th, 2017


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Diversity Spotlight Thursday: #13

DIVERSE SPOTLIGHT


Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by yours truly. Every week, you come up with one book in each of three different categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and one that has not yet been released. You can check out the announcement post for more information.

P.S. if you decide to participate (yay!), please feel free to use the graphics in this post. No credit is required! Also, if you link back to this post or the announcement post, and I’ll add a link to your post to mine!

So, due to all the craziness of the week, I wasn’t really feeling up to posting anything on my blog, which is why I missed this week’s Diversity Spotlight. But since I didn’t have much to post over the weekend, I thought I’d catch up. So, here’s a late #13 Diversity Spotlight Thursday. 🙂


READ

aj fikryThe Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

“On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto “No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World.” A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island—from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, but large in weight. It’s that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming.

The main character of this book is an Indian-American widower who is the owner of a bookstore. Zevin does such a brilliant job of interweaving culture while also making sure to humanize the protagonist, so he doesn’t come across as “the Other” as is common in books that rely on misrepresentation. A.J. Fikry is such a lovable, precious main character, and his grumpiness, his relationship with the people around him is moving and entertaining. This was a great book, and it’s one that every book lover should read. 🙂


Goodreads | Amazon

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11595276The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

“When Cameron Post’s parents die suddenly in a car crash, her shocking first thought is relief. Relief they’ll never know that, hours earlier, she had been kissing a girl.

But that relief doesn’t last, and Cam is soon forced to move in with her conservative aunt Ruth and her well-intentioned but hopelessly old-fashioned grandmother. She knows that from this point on, her life will forever be different. Survival in Miles City, Montana, means blending in and leaving well enough alone (as her grandmother might say), and Cam becomes an expert at both.

Then Coley Taylor moves to town. Beautiful, pickup-driving Coley is a perfect cowgirl with the perfect boyfriend to match. She and Cam forge an unexpected and intense friendship — one that seems to leave room for something more to emerge. But just as that starts to seem like a real possibility, ultrareligious Aunt Ruth takes drastic action to ‘fix’ her niece, bringing Cam face-to-face with the cost of denying her true self — even if she’s not exactly sure who that is.

Recently, I realized that I haven’t read nearly enough books with f/f relationships. It’s upsetting because it’s not like these books don’t exist- it’s that they are not hyped as much as those with m/m relationships. I really want to start reading more diversely within the diverse books I read as well, and this one sounds like a good place to start- I’ve heard really great things.


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coming soon

25164304Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses before her coronation—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine (called Mare), sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two work together, each discovers there’s more to the other than she thought. Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. Soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.

In a similar vein, this is a fantasy novel with a f/f relationship at the forefront, and I’m stoked to get to it. From what I’ve seen of ARC reviews, it’s been getting wonderful reviews. The author seems lovely on Twitter, and it just sounds like a fun ride.

This book releases on November 22nd, 2016


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Diversity Spotlight Thursday Posts from Across the Blogosphere

Morgan @ The Backlist Babe | Keeana @ Kee the Reader | Shouni @ Through the Book Portal | Codie @ Reader’s Anonymous | Wendy @ Falconer’s Library | 4thhousontheleft | Alexandra @ Salsera Beauty Reads | Birdie Bookworm | Diana @ A Haven for Book Lovers | Nagina @ Ohbookish

Diversity Spotlight Thursday: #12

DIVERSE SPOTLIGHT


Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by yours truly. Every week, you come up with one book in each of three different categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and one that has not yet been released. You can check out the announcement post for more information.

P.S. if you decide to participate (yay!), please feel free to use the graphics in this post. No credit is required! Also, if you link back to this post or the announcement post, and I’ll add a link to your post to mine!


READ

248704It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

“Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life – which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.

Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story is one of those books that’s so incredibly moving that you won’t be able to stop thinking about it. From the get-go, the characters and their struggles draw you in. And I think it’s an incredibly difficult thing to do- pairing a topic as serious as depression with such light-hearted humor, but Ned Vizzini pulled it off. Of course, this is an Own Voices book. Ned Vizzini suffered from depression and spent some time in a hospital. Only after reading this book and Googling Ned’s name did I find out that he had tragically committed suicide, which gives this book so much more weight in my memory. I think Ned’s work needs to be immortalized- there’s nothing quite like it.


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12109372Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear

“Temur, grandson of the Great Khan, is walking away from a battlefield where he was left for dead. All around lie the fallen armies of his cousin and his brother, who made war to rule the Khaganate. Temur is now the legitimate heir by blood to his grandfather’s throne, but he is not the strongest. Going into exile is the only way to survive his ruthless cousin.

Once-Princess Samarkar is climbing the thousand steps of the Citadel of the Wizards of Tsarepheth. She was heir to the Rasan Empire until her father got a son on a new wife. Then she was sent to be the wife of a Prince in Song, but that marriage ended in battle and blood. Now she has renounced her worldly power to seek the magical power of the wizards. These two will come together to stand against the hidden cult that has so carefully brought all the empires of the Celadon Highway to strife and civil war through guile and deceit and sorcerous power.

High fantasy set in non-Western settings is my weakness- and considering how much I’m into it, I haven’t read nearly enough. Books inspired by the Middle East especially are super intriguing to me, probably because the Middle East is so stigmatized and very rarely do we get non-agenda-pushing narratives that it’s nice to get away from the stigmas by delving into fantasy. Not going to lie- the cover drew me in more than anything. This HAS to be one of the greatest covers I’ve EVER laid my eyes on. But the book sounds bad-ass.


Goodreads | Amazon

coming soon

32182684The Blazing Star by Imani Josey

“Sixteen-year-old Portia White is used to being overlooked—after all, her twin sister Alex is a literal genius. But when Portia holds an Egyptian scarab beetle during history class, she takes center stage in a way she never expected: she faints. Upon waking, she is stronger, faster, and braver than before. And when she accidentally touches the scarab again? She wakes up in ancient Egypt—her sister and an unwitting freshman in tow.

Mysterious and beautiful, Egypt is more than they could have ever imagined from their days in the classroom. History comes alive as the three teens realize that getting back to the present will be the most difficult thing they’ve ever done. Stalked by vicious monsters called Scorpions, every step in the right direction means a step closer to danger.

As Portia and the girls discover that they’re linked to the past by more than just chance, they have to decide what it truly means to be yourself, to love your sister, and to find your way home.

I was recently approved on Netgalley for this, and I’m so psyched! I’m honestly trying to go into this book without knowing much – I haven’t even read the premise, so I can’t talk about it much. But YA fantasy set in Egypt? I’m so down.

This book releases on December 6th, 2016


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Diversity Spotlight Thursday: #9

DIVERSE SPOTLIGHT


Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by yours truly. Every week, you come up with one book in each of three different categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and one that has not yet been released. You can check out the announcement post for more information.

P.S. if you decide to participate (yay!), please feel free to use the graphics in this post. No credit is required! Also, if you link back to this post or the announcement post, and I’ll add a link to your post to mine!

I thought I’d give this week’s post a theme: South Asian literature. I know South Asian literature forms a minor niche in the book industry, and many really great books get overlooked because they’re considered “too foreign.” I made a discussion post a few days ago talking about this very thing, so I thought it fitting to spotlight South Asian books this week.


READ

fire boyFire Boy (Djinn-Son Duology #1) by Sami Shah

“Growing up in Karachi isn’t easy. Wahid has a lot on his mind: the girl he likes, mostly, but also choosing a good university and finding time to play Dungeons & Dragons. Oh, and the fact that he can see djinns, other-worldly creatures made of a smokeless and scorching fire. After a horrific car accident kills his best friend and djinns steal his girlfriend’s soul, Wahid vows to find out why. Fortunately, he has help in finding the djinns that tried to kill him. Unfortunately, that help is from the darkest of all spirits, the Devil himself …

Fire Boy is filled with supernatural entities and high-paced action, but it also gives the reader a vivid insight into life in Pakistan.”

I read this book fairly recently, but it’s become one of my favorites of this year. It was a genuinely terrifying read with creatures drawn from both Islamic and South Asian mythology, and was set in an authentic, nuanced portrayal of Pakistan’s urban capital, Karachi. I loved how Sami Shah didn’t concentrate on what was expected of him to concentrate on i.e. poverty, violence, misogyny- but instead wrote a captivating urban fantasy while never sugarcoating the problems that are obviously present in the region.

The e-book is also only $2.99 on Amazon!


Goodreads | Amazon

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29637673An Unrestored Woman: and Other Stories by Shobha Rao

“In An Unrestored Woman, the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 cuts a jagged path through the lives of ordinary women and men, leaving ripples of sorrow through time and space. Each couplet of stories spans the Indian subcontinent, from refugee camps and torched trains to the spacious verandas of the British Raj, and billows into the wider world. An old woman recounts the murdering of what was most precious to her, and the many small cuts that led her to that act. A girl forced into prostitution wields patience as deftly as a weapon, and manages to escape her fate. An Indian servant falls in love with his employer, and spins a twisted web of deceit.

The characters in these fearless stories stumble – occasionally towards love, more often towards survival – and find that history, above all, is their truest and greatest opponent. And what emerges, in the midst of newly erected barriers, boundaries, and nations, is a journey into the centre of the only place that matters – the human heart.”

I’ve yet to read a book about the partition of the Indian subcontinent, but this one was recently brought to my attention and I knew I had to read it as soon as possible. The partition was such a pivotal moment in global history, taking place almost immediately after India kicked the British out. It was chaos, and entire families were torn apart. My grandparents used to tell me that borders were formed between neighborhoods; my grandmother’s best friend was in the same country as my grandma one day, and the next day, there was a border in between them. So many people died, so many tragedies occurred and I feel like these stories and voices are important to be told. But they don’t reach the international public. So I hope to read an #ownvoices book about this event.

Also, the beautiful cover has me shook (my Twitter slang is seeping into my blog too, send help).


Goodreads | Amazon

coming soon

28458598When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

“Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers… right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself. The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, why not? Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

This just sounds like such a fun, light-hearted, entertaining read. Arranged marriage plays such a prominent role in South Asia, and is considered tradition. The image Westerners get of arranged marriage is this archaic thing where the bridge and the groom are forced into a marriage without ever having interacted; most arranged marriages don’t work like that. The parents set up a meeting, the guy and girl interact and then collectively decide if they want to get married. Although forced marriage definitely exists and that narrative cannot and should not be ignored, I’m frankly sick of this one-sided, tinted look at foreign traditions. So I’m super excited to see how arranged marriage is dealt with in a lighter, varied tone.

This book releases on May 30th, 2017


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Diversity Spotlight Thursday Posts from Across the Blogosphere

Charlotte @ cahwrites | Morgan @ The Backlist Babe | Esther @ Chapter Adventures | Shahirah @ Bookloves_Reviews | Clemence @ Clemi’s Bookish World | Diana @ A Haven for Book Lovers  | Avery @ Book Deviant | Meep @ Book 7 | Sarah @ Reviews and Readathons | Jordyn @ JordztheBibliophile |

Let’s Talk About: Literature Too Foreign

literature-too-foreign

Midnight in Karachi: How a Podcast Helped Me Put The Conversation of Diversity in a Cultural, Regional Context

The other day while researching podcast networks for my internship, I came across a show named “Midnight in Karachi.” It immediately caught my eye because it was a show funded and produced by Tor Books – which is an imprint of Macmillan Publishing – and yet, the host was a Pakistani-based young woman who interviewed a wide range of authors who write some sort of fantasy from her home in Pakistan. The podcast was mesmerizing in a couple of ways: 1) Mahvish Murad (who is the host) has one of the most beautiful voices and accents I’ve ever heard, and 2) she interviews wildly popular authors with such poise and grace, making it so that it doesn’t even feel like an interview- but rather a conversation among two friends about writing, the craft, the books and the audiences. Her credentials include authors like Victoria Schwab, Margaret Atwood, M.R. Carey and Patrick Ness.

While listening to a bunch of her episodes in succession, I came across two South Asian authors, both of whom said profound things that put the conversations about diversity in a personal context for me. One of these authors was Sami Shah, a Pakistani author whose book Fire Boy was recently released by an Australian indie publisher- a book I read and reviewed. The other author was Indra Das, whose book The Devourers is also a relatively new release published by Random House. And both of these authors had startlingly similar experiences with the publishing process.

Both Shah and Das wrote books set in a “foreign” land. Shah’s story is an urban fantasy set in Karachi, Pakistan which wields Islamic and South Asian folklore, while Das’s story is an urban fantasy set in New Delhi, India and involves Indian/Hindu mythology. Both of these authors wrote “foreign” books – I hate using that word, but I understand that this is how their work can be categorized. Both authors sent their manuscripts to publishers in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. And here’s the deal- they faced an alarming amount of rejection, but not because their books were bad- in fact, the publishers insisted that they quite liked their books, but they couldn’t find a market because the books were too foreign.


The Meaning of Foreign: Where People Are More Comfortable Reading The Lord of the Rings than About Existing Cultures

I wonder what that means. Were they too foreign because they were not set in Western society, or were they foreign because they did not rely on a Eurocentric view of mythology to form their world-building? Were they foreign because the authors were foreign and utilized a lot of cultural dialogue and cultural elements in their stories? Or were they foreign just because they were written in a way that was impossible for the larger Western population to understand? I don’t get it, and neither did these authors.

Indra Das offered an interesting, very valid perspective. He said that there are thousands and thousands of fantasy books out there, widely consumed by people of all races, people of all ages. Many of these books have made-up mythologies, created out of one person’s mind. Invented creatures, invented races and languages, and these books are popular. They are dubbed “legendary fantasies,” and people have no problem absorbing these completely made-up cultures and worlds. The Lord of the Rings is still very widely consumed. The world is made-up, and there are many creatures and forms of lore that had not existed before Tolkien penned them down. He created languages for his series. And people are comfortable with this, and call him the god of fantasy. But when it comes to existing cultures, existing mythologies, all of a sudden they are “too foreign?” It’s interesting to see that the literary world (at least in the West) has such a disjointed, fragmented notion of the world that they find it easier to absorb abstract inventions rather than concrete, existing mythologies that have developed, evolved and matured over centuries.

I encountered this issue first-hand just two days ago. I wrote a short story with a Pakistani child as the protagonist, who moves to Europe at the age of seven. There wasn’t a ton of cultural lingo in my story, and when there was, I made an active effort to make it very clear what the words meant in the context of the story. I mentioned the traditional garb of Pakistan once in my piece; this was the sentence: “people in London did not wear shalwar kameez, but instead wore skirts and dresses.” I don’t know – maybe I’m completely wrong, but I’m assuming that from this sentence – even in its limited context – you can figure out what shalwar kameez is. It’s an outfit, or a way of clothing. One person in my class had underlined the phrase and written, “What is this?” underneath. Perhaps it’s unjustified or silly of me to be annoyed, but fuck, was I annoyed.

I’d gone my entire life reading about Thanksgiving in books. It was presented without any context, but I knew it was some sort of holiday. It wasn’t until I moved to the US that I find out that Thanksgiving is not a religious holiday- it’s an American thing. I had no idea, but I read it all my life and learned to fill in the blanks, no matter how disjointedly. This person in a literature class can’t fill in the blanks from a clear-cut context? They need me to spell out every single aspect of my culture to them? Seriously? What bothered me more than that, however, was how nobody batted an eyelash when this kid wrote an elaborate sci-fi story set on a made-up planet with a made-up society and a made-up culture. But when it comes to “shalwar kameez,” all of a sudden, Google does not exist and they find it absolutely necessary to point out in my writing that it’s a foreign phrase and that I should spell it out for my readers.

Why do people find it some sort of chore to read about other cultures? Why does everything non-Eurocentric get named “too foreign” or “too exotic.” People in these places have been reading these Eurocentric stories ever since they were children, and if they can do it, why can’t you? Are you less intelligent than “foreign” people, or are you just too entitled? What’s the deal?


Expectation with a Capital E: I’m Supposed to Write Stories that Demonize My Culture; Otherwise, They Will Go Unnoticed

Sami Shah had another interesting perspective to add to the conversation- another very valid perspective that forced me to think about how art is absorbed in Eurocentric societies. Shah was frank when he said that South Asian writers, or any writers from developing countries, are expected to write a certain type of story. They are supposed to write about the monstrous nature of their countries and societies, the backward-nature of their cultures. They must write about everything bad in order to be recognized and admired by the international community. Most wildly popular Indian and Pakistani stories are ones that demonize the region: stories of barbaric violence, of misogyny and terrorism and poverty are the ones that are told and recognized. Stories about sweet romances or close-knit families, or feel-good tales about friendship, or kick-ass urban fantasies are not recognized because they do not cater to Expectation.

Think about it. How many Indian movies are you familiar with? Bollywood is just a subset of the Indian cinematic scene- in 2014, India released 1969 movies – only 252 of which were from Bollywood (Source). Indian movies encompass a wide variety of genres- we have stories like 3 Idiotswhich is a tale about friendship, first-love and the importance of learning above formal education. We have movies like PKwhich was a heartfelt, humorous analysis of religions in India- the message ultimately being that we are so intent on division that we don’t realize the common thread that binds us: humanity. We have tales like Kal Ho Naa Hoa tragi-comedy with one of the greatest love triangles ever written ever. Like Devdaswhich is a modern-day Indian retelling of Romeo & Juliet, of sorts (but very different too) or Barfiwhich follows the story of a young man who is deaf and mute but lives life like no other. Have you heard of any of these movies? These are some of the most popular movies in Indian cinema- the highest-rated, the most prominent, featuring some of the highest-paid actors in the entire world. No.

But you’ve heard of Slumdog Millionaire, haven’t you? Which is a ridiculously mediocre tale compared to some of the gems Indian cinema has produced. It basks in its mediocrity because it makes Westerners sit back and appreciate their lives and marvel at how foreign India is, at how lucky they are that they weren’t born in a society where poverty is so commonplace. Fuck the rest. It doesn’t matter that India is a developing economy, is home to so many cultures, has brilliant minds in fields of science and mathematics. That doesn’t matter- let’s just look at the slums, because that’s what makes us feel good about ourselves. That’s what tells us that the White Man has the greatest countries in the world- look at these poor brown and black nations with their backwardness and archaic traditions.

Similarly, Pakistan has a booming television industry with incredible shows that portray every reality of Pakistan- the upper-class, the middle-class and the lower-class. We have a ridiculously talented arsenal of fashion designers and artists, and a musical platform that sparked an artistic revolution in the country, and later spread to bordering countries. We have produced scientists and software engineers as young as nine, both boys and girlls. But no- you don’t hear these stories. You don’t see them published. You don’t see our documentaries, our shows and our movies on your screens. Unless they show you how barbaric our society is. Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy has won the Oscar twice – both times, she has made movies about some of the most backward practices in our country. Realities. Harsh realities that cannot be ignored, should not be ignored and are extremely important to realize and change- but the only realities that Westerners feel like recognizing. We have hardcovers of I Am Malala in every single bookstore with the words “The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban” emblazoned on its cover. Which is incredible – it is, because Malala is one brave girl who did things that I can’t even dream of doing. But is she the only humanitarian Pakistan has released? What about Abdul Sattar Edhi? The man who formed the largest welfare network in the region, if not the world. Who spent his entire life providing shelter and healthcare to the poor and the needy. At the time of his death, he was the guardian or parent of 20,000 orphaned or abandoned children. Think about that. People flocked to his funeral from all over Pakistan- people who never knew him wept because Pakistan’s “Angel of Mercy” had passed away. He died earlier this year and most Westerners don’t even know he existed. But what burns me inside is that these people claim to be well-read, claim to be educated enough to have discussions about these countries and cultures when they have ridiculously tinted, biased views of the region.

*Takes a deep breath* Sorry, went off on a tangent there. But you get my point here. We’re not expected to write foreign stories, and when we do write them, we can’t steer clear of Expectation. My story has to be about an oppressed woman living in poverty whose husband is abusive and maybe even a member of the Taliban. Throw in religious oppression for good measure. I’ll write that and I’ll probably win an award. “A stunning tale of overcoming hardship” yada, yada, yada. But God forbid I want to write a cultural fantasy, or a contemporary about a normal teenager who goes to high school, has a crush and really likes to read books. That’s not a story that makes the White Man feel good about himself; that’s a story that tells him that there are people just like him in societies that are stereotyped, stigmatized and dehumanized, and that makes him very uncomfortable.


Rebelling Against Expectation: I Will Not Write a Story that Further Stigmatizes My Culture and My Voice

It’s not so black-and-white. It never is. Sure, there are horrible things happening in the region (let’s focus on the Indian subcontinent here), but does that mean that any step to bridge the gap between Western and Eastern cultures is stifled just because our stories don’t fit an agenda? I don’t want to write a story that paints my country, my people, my history and my culture in a disgustingly dark light. I want my stories to have nuance, I want my readers to relate. Your strange desire to read books about black-and-white oppression is foreign to me, not cultural fantasies from other countries.

After all this, after listening to the podcast and thinking at-length about the implications of the phrase “too foreign,” I ask myself a question. We talk the talk- we say we want more diverse books, and we engage with authors about the lack of diversity in their books, and we try and spotlight diverse literature. But is our message reaching publishers? They reject these diverse books that they liked because they see no market- where is the market? You and me and her – we are the market. There are so many of us who “advocate” diversity by talking about it on social media – which is amazing, trust me, it is. But do you go out and actively buy books from marginalized authors, or stories that are foreign, or tales that are culturally diverse? Unless you start supporting these books and these authors’ voices, there is never going to be a market. And good stories are going to be passed over because publishers believe- rightly so, I may add- that people simply don’t want to read something “foreign.” What good is a Twitter thread to a business? Businesses do not rely on 140-character messages. They rely on money and profit- and that’s the sad truth of this world, but it’s one that should be realized so that change can actively be achieved.


What do you think? What are the implications of the phrase “too foreign” to you and do you think it’s as big of a deal as I’m making it? What are some ways you can support diversity so that a more nuanced perspective of stigmatized societies can come to the forefront? Let me know in the comments; and as always, thanks for stopping by and happy reading!

Diversity Spotlight Thursday: #8

DIVERSE SPOTLIGHT


Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by yours truly. Every week, you come up with one book in each of three different categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and one that has not yet been released. You can check out the announcement post for more information.

P.S. if you decide to participate (yay!), please feel free to use the graphics in this post. No credit is required! Also, if you link back to this post or the announcement post, and I’ll add a link to your post to mine!


READ

Six of Crows & Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

six of crows“Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge. A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager. A runaway with a privileged past. A spy known as the Wraith. A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums.  A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes.

Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.”

With the recent release of Crooked Kingdom, I thought I’d talk a little about the diversity in this duology. I’ve spoken a little on other social media about how important it is to include diversity, especially in fantasy where it’s completely unrealistic to have a huge world with all cishet white able-bodied characters. I think all fantasy authors should look at Bardugo and use her as inspiration. We have six main characters- all very important people. You can say there’s one character that is held above the others, but the other five are on the same level.

Kaz Brekker is disabled and suffers from severe PTSD. Inej is brown- her culture is inspired by Hindu and South Asian culture. Nina is a larger woman who is bisexual, while Matthias is our brooding straight-white hero (so there’s that too). Jesper is black, and has an addiction to gambling. He’s also bisexual, and Wylan suffers from what I think is dyslexia and is gay. And they are all so beautifully developed and presented. I mean, honestly, this series has little to no flaws.


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the summer of chasing mermaidsThe Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

“The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak. Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: An ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.

Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life. When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them.

I hadn’t heard much about this book until very recently when a blogger said that the representation in this one was so spot-on that she hadn’t even realized that it wasn’t an #OwnVoices novel. I’ve never read a book set in the Caribbean before, so I’m excited to see how this one fares.


Goodreads | Amazon (only $6 for a paperbacks!) | The Book Depository | Barnes & Noble

coming soon

beastBeast by Brie Spangler

“Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn’t look like your average fifteen-year-old, so, naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his preferred camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg—and a mandate to attend group therapy for self-harmers.

Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at therapy—until he meets Jamie. She’s funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend, JP, would be jealous. She’s also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jamie’s humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But there is something Dylan doesn’t know about Jamie, something she shared with the group the day he wasn’t listening. Something that shouldn’t change a thing. She is who she’s always been—an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But will Dylan see it that way?

This is a Beauty and the Beast retelling with a transgender character! That’s so fucking awesome, don’t you think? I remember thinking that retellings are such an interesting way to include diversity in your stories- it much be fun to play around the tropes and see how gender-swaps and inclusion of different races or removing heterosexuality of the main couple would affect the story- if at all. This one sounds awesome because it’s a contemporary retelling, whereas most of the B&tB retellings I’m familiar with are fantasy. Very excited.

This book releases on October 11th, 2016


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Diversity Spotlight Thursday Posts from Across the Blogosphere

Meep @ Book 7 |

Diversity Spotlight Thursday | #7

DIVERSE SPOTLIGHT


Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by yours truly. Every week, you come up with one book in each of three different categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and one that has not yet been released. You can check out the announcement post for more information.

P.S. if you decide to participate (yay!), please feel free to use the graphics in this post. No credit is required! Also, if you link back to this post or the announcement post, and I’ll add a link to your post to mine!


READ

every last wordEvery Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

“Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

I was looking through all my DST posts, and I realized that I hadn’t yet featured a book with a protagonist who has a mental illness. I’m studying Psychology in school, and I’m very passionate about how mental illness is portrayed in books. I think Stone did a wonderful job of depicting Samantha’s OCD; apart from being a good portrayal, it was a wholesome novel with strong friendships, a cute romance and strong family dynamics.


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more happy than notMore Happy than Not by Adam Silvera

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

Ha, I honestly cannot believe that I still haven’t read this book. I remember I was waiting for the hype to die down when it first came out, but now the hype’s kind of gone and I still haven’t seen anything but glowing reviews. I love Adam Silvera’s personality on social media, and this book sounds profound and heartbreaking, and just something up my ally. Really need to get to it soon!


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coming soon

always and forever lara jeanAlways and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #3) by Jenny Han

“Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

I really loved the first book in this trilogy- the second one not so much, but I liked it enough to want to continue reading. I love Jenny Han’s portrayal of tight-knit families. The protagonist is biracial, and I enjoy seeing Jenny Han’s depictions of Korean culture. A little nervous about what is in store for Lara Jean and Peter, but excited nonetheless. 🙂

This book releases on April 4th 2017.


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Diversity Spotlight Thursday Posts from Across the Blogosphere

Nagina @ ohbookish | Kee @ Kee the Reader | Charlotte @ cahwrites | Diana @ A Haven for Book Lovers | Codie @ Reader’s Anonymous | Alexandra @ Salsera Beauty Reads | Esther @ Chapter Adventures | Sarah @ Reviews and Read-a-Thons | M @ A Blog of One’s Own | Meep @ Book 7

Diversity Spotlight Thursday | #6

DIVERSE SPOTLIGHT


Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by yours truly. Every week, you come up with one book in each of three different categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and one that has not yet been released. You can check out the announcement post for more information.

P.S. if you decide to participate (yay!), please feel free to use the graphics in this post. No credit is required! Also, if you link back to this post or the announcement post, and I’ll add a link to your post to mine!


Hi, everyone! So I know I’ve been super inactive recently- that’s because school has come at me with guns blazing, and I’m trying to be good at my internship too, ha. I haven’t been reading much because of this, and that’s why I missed last week’s DST post too. 🙁 Sorry about that! I’ll try to catch up this weekend, because I don’t have much homework to do.

A few friends and I have also started a monthly bookclub that strives to read at least one diverse book every single month. If you’d like to check it out, here’s the Goodreads group, the Twitter and the Instagram. 🙂


READ

we awaken coverWe Awaken by Calista Lynne

Victoria Dinham doesn’t have much left to look forward to. Since her father died in a car accident, she lives only to fulfill her dream of being accepted into the Manhattan Dance Conservatory. But soon she finds another reason to look forward to dreams when she encounters an otherworldly girl named Ashlinn, who bears a message from Victoria’s comatose brother. Ashlinn is tasked with conjuring pleasant dreams for humans, and through the course of their nightly meetings in Victoria’s mind, the two become close. Ashlinn also helps Victoria understand asexuality and realize that she, too, is asexual.

But then Victoria needs Ashlinn’s aid outside the realm of dreams, and Ashlinn assumes human form to help Victoria make it to her dance audition. They take the opportunity to explore New York City, their feelings for each other, and the nature of their shared asexuality. But like any dream, it’s too good to last. Ashlinn must shrug off her human guise and resume her duties creating pleasant nighttime visions—or all of humanity will pay the price. 

This was my first book revolving around an asexual character, and it was also a lesbian romance! I learned a lot from this book, and despite not enjoying it fully, I appreciate reading it. If you want to learn more about asexuality and are also looking for more lesbian romances, I’d definitely recommend this one!


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Juliet Takes a BreathJuliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

“Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But Juliet has a plan, sort of, one that’s going to help her figure out this whole “Puerto Rican lesbian” thing. She’s interning with the author of her favorite book: Harlowe Brisbane, the ultimate authority on feminism, women’s bodies, and other gay-sounding stuff. 

Will Juliet be able to figure out her life over the course of one magical summer? Is that even possible? Or is she running away from all the problems that seem too big to handle? 

With more questions than answers, Juliet takes on Portland, Harlowe, and most importantly, herself.”

I can’t say I’ve heard too much about this book, just that I’ve heard nothing but fantastic things. I haven’t read many books with PoC LGBTQ+ characters, so I’m very excited to get my hands on this!


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coming soon

when the moon was oursWhen the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

When the Moon Was Ours follows two characters through a story that has multicultural elements and magical realism, but also has central LGBT themes—a transgender boy, the best friend he’s falling in love with, and both of them deciding how they want to define themselves.

To everyone who knows them, best friends Miel and Sam are as strange as they are inseparable. Roses grow out of Miel’s wrist, and rumors say that she spilled out of a water tower when she was five. Sam is known for the moons he paints and hangs in the trees, and for how little anyone knows about his life before he and his mother moved to town. 

But as odd as everyone considers Miel and Sam, even they stay away from the Bonner girls, four beautiful sisters rumored to be witches. Now they want the roses that grow from Miel’s skin, convinced that their scent can make anyone fall in love. And they’re willing to use every secret Miel has fought to protect to make sure she gives them up.”

I’m so honored to say that I have this book on my Netgalley shelf (I know, it’s not that big of a deal but I still get surprised whenever I’m approved for an ARC, tbh), and I will be reading it very, very soon. I haven’t read a book about a transgender individual before, and this sounds like a beautiful, poignant read. Look out for my review some time before this month ends (hopefully).

This book releases on October 4th.


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(P.S. This book features all purple books- this was unintentional, but a neat coincidence since it’s Bisexual Awareness Week. XD)


Diversity Spotlight Thursday Posts from Around the Blogosphere:

Monique @ That Wild Soul | Shahirah @ Bookloves_Reviews | Caitlin @ Words and Other Beasts | Alexandra @ Salsera Beauty Reads | Clemence @ Clemi’s Bookish World | Nagina @ Oh Bookish | Vivian @ A Haven for Book Lovers

Diversity Spotlight Thursday | #5

DIVERSE SPOTLIGHT


Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by yours truly. Every week, you come up with one book in each of three different categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and one that has not yet been released. You can check out the announcement post for more information.

P.S. if you decide to participate (yay!), please feel free to use the graphics in this post. No credit is required! Also, if you link back to this post or the announcement post, and I’ll add a link to your post to mine!


READ

A Little LifeA Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

“When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

I’ve spoken about this novel a few times recently. When I went into this massive brick, I hadn’t expected it to have such a diverse cast of characters; we have several characters of color, several LGBTQ+ characters, and the protagonist is disabled in the way that he has problems with his legs after an accident left them severely impaired, as well as suffering from mental illness. I love this book- the characters are some of the most well-developed characters I’ve ever read, and the writing is just gorgeous.


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7261699Eon by Alison Goodman

“For years, Eon’s life has been focused on magical study and sword-work, with one goal: that he be chosen as a Dragoneye, an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune.

But Eon has a dangerous secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been masquerading as a twelve-year-old boy. Females are forbidden to use Dragon Magic; if anyone discovers she has been hiding in plain sight, her death is assured.

When Eon’s secret threatens to come to light, she and her allies are plunged into grave danger and a deadly struggle for the Imperial throne. Eon must find the strength and inner power to battle those who want to take her magic… and her life.

I’ve heard really wonderful things about this series, and although I haven’t looked into it enough to fully know what it’s about, I’m still extremely excited to give it a go! Also, that cover is one of the coolest fantasy covers I’ve seen around!


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coming soon

28114515The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang

“Charles Wang is mad at America. A brash, lovable immigrant businessman who built a cosmetics empire and made a fortune, he’s just been ruined by the financial crisis. Now all Charles wants is to get his kids safely stowed away so that he can go to China and attempt to reclaim his family’s ancestral lands—and his pride.

Charles pulls Andrew, his aspiring comedian son, and Grace, his style-obsessed daughter, out of schools he can no longer afford. Together with their stepmother, Barbra, they embark on a cross-country road trip from their foreclosed Bel-Air home to the upstate New York hideout of the eldest daughter, disgraced art world it-girl Saina. But with his son waylaid by a temptress in New Orleans, his wife ready to defect for a set of 1,000-thread-count sheets, and an epic smash-up in North Carolina, Charles may have to choose between the old world and the new, between keeping his family intact and finally fulfilling his dream of starting anew in China.

I have this book on my Netgalley shelf, and the few reviews I’ve read have raved about this book. During the fall, I tend to like darker reads but look for lighter, faster reads in between, so I feel that this will be the perfect book to fulfill those cravings.

This book releases on October 4th.


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Connect with me elsewhere:
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Diversity Spotlight Thursday Posts from Around the Blogosphere:

Monique @ That Wild Soul | Eliana @ The Written Opinion | M @ A Blog of One’s Own | M. L. Ventura @ Unspoken | Salsera @ Salsera Beauty Reads | Eliza @ DuskAngelReads | Nagina @ Oh Bookish | Shouni @ Through the Book Portal

Diversity Spotlight Thursday: #4

DIVERSE SPOTLIGHT


Diversity Spotlight Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by yours truly. Every week, you come up with one book in each of three different categories: a diverse book you have read and enjoyed, a diverse book on your TBR, and one that has not yet been released. You can check out the announcement post for more information.

P.S. if you decide to participate (yay!), please feel free to use the graphics in this post. No credit is required! Also, if you link back to this post or the announcement post, and I’ll add a link to your post to mine!


READ

persepolisPersepolis by Marjane Satrapi

“Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country. 

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Marjane’s child’s-eye view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family.”

I read Persepolis a couple of months ago, and it completely blew me away. As someone who wasn’t familiar with Iranian culture and history, this graphic novel was an eye-opening experience into a country whose issues have been brushed aside because they are unglamorous or uncomfortable. It’s interesting how vastly different two Islamic societies can be. I have lived most of my life in Pakistan which is basically an Islamic country, but vastly different from Iran. Persepolis is tragic and memorable, and a book that everyone needs to read because it is true.


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the immortal rulesThe Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

“Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them—the vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself dies and becomes one of the monsters.

Forced to flee her city, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend—a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, the bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike. And soon Allie will have to decide what and who is worth dying for…again.”

I’ve heard nothing but fantastic things about this series, and although I’d like to read her other series first, I have to be honest and say that this one just intrigues me more. A kick-ass Asian character who fights with a katana? That just sounds freaking awesome.


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coming soon
Tell the truth, shame the devilTell The Truth, Shame the Devil by Melina Marchetta

“Chief Inspector Bish Ortley of the London Met, divorced and still grieving the death of his son, has been drowning his anger in Scotch. Something has to give, and he’s no sooner suspended from the force than a busload of British students is subject to a deadly bomb attack across the Channel. Bish’s daughter is one of those on board.

Also on the bus is Violette LeBrac. Raised in Australia, Violette has a troubled background. Thirteen years ago her grandfather bombed a London supermarket, killing dozens of people. Her mother, Noor, is serving a life sentence in connection with the incident. But before Violette’s part in the French tragedy can be established, she disappears. Bish, who was involved in Noor LeBrac’s arrest, is now compelled to question everything that happened back then. And the more he delves into the lives of the family he helped put away, the more he realises that truth wears many colours.”

I think Melina Marchetta is one of the most talented authors out there. Although I’ve only read one of her books, it’s one that has stayed with me. I believe this book has a lesbian character, and Muslim main characters who are part-Egyptian. I’m looking forward to a story where people of color aren’t treated as “other,” where their stories are integrated seamlessly into the narrative. Also, I love thrillers.

This book has been released in the UK and Australia, releases on October 11th in the US


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