TLC Book Tours: A House Without Windows by Nadia Hashimi

“What a burden it is to be born a woman.”


What Zeba is:

  • a loving mother
  • a loyal wife
  • in prison

Her husband Kamal has been found murdered, with a hatchet, in their courtyard.

And Zeba – covered with blood.

She is sent to Chil Mahtab, the women’s prison in Kabul, while the judge tries to figure out what to do with her.

Her brother has hired her a young lawyer, Yusuf, a recent returnee from the US where he has lived for many years and where he went to law school. He’s a little naive but his colleague soon sets him straight about how things work in Afghanistan:

“the justice system, if you can even call it that, is as twisted as a mullah’s turban. There are ways to work with what we have, but it takes creativity and patience.”

Unfortunately he has a difficult task ahead of him as Zeba herself refuses to help in her own defense. Her refusal makes him wonder, what is she hiding? Whose secrets are she keeping?

It was especially interesting (and painful) to learn about Zeba’s fellow inmates.

“Because of their various improprieties, many had been convicted of the broad crime of zina, sex outside of marriage. Some were convicted of attempted zina or imprisoned for assisting another woman to commit zina.”

Sadly, for many of them, prison is a safer place than their own homes. Isn’t that just heart-breaking?

This book was a difficult read, a difficult topic but one that hopefully raises more awareness about women’s rights around the world.

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I received this book for review from its publisher as part of a TLC Book Tour. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on the tour. 

Pick up this book: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
 
Connect with the author: WebsiteFacebook, and Twitter

 

I’m using this for “Central Asian MC” for #AsianLitBingo

Back to the Classics: A Raisin in the Sun

 

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Don’t laugh, but for the longest time, I thought this play/musical had to do with erm, farming. I’d heard of it, but have never seen the play or the musical or the film.

It takes its name from this Langston Hughes poem.

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
Like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
Like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

– Langston Hughes, Harlem (Dream Deferred)

What an amazing poem.

A Raisin in the Sun is a story about a black family living in Chicago’s South Side – Walter and his wife Ruth, their son Travis, Walter’s mother and sister Beneatha all live together in a small rundown apartment.

“Weariness has, in fact, won in this room. Everything has been polished, washed, sat on, used, scrubbed too often. All pretenses but living itself have long since vanished from the very atmosphere of this room.”

Walter’s father has recently died, and they’re waiting for a life insurance cheque of $10,000. Walter plans to invest that in a liquor store with some acquaintances. But his mother puts most of it into a new house – one in an all-white neighbourhood. Unfortunately their soon-to-be new neighbours want none of that, and a representative arrives offering to buy them out. This man who asks the family:

“What do you think you are going to gain by moving into a neighborhood where you just aren’t wanted and where some elements – well – people can get awful worked up when they feel that their whole way of life and everything they’ve ever worked for is threatened.”

The plot echoes Hansberry’s own experience. When she was 8, her father Carl Hansberry bought a house in a subdivision restricted to whites, and their neighbours got an injunction to have them vacate the house. Carl Hansberry challenged the ruling, bringing about the case Hansberry vs Lee.

This play set many precedents. After difficulty securing funding, a location, the play opened on March 11, 1959, and A Raisin in the Sun was the first play written by a black woman to be produced on Broadway, with a black director, and a black cast (except for one minor character), including Sidney Poitier. What a feat for that time, when theatergoers were mostly white. According to a 1999 New York Times article, Hansberry once told a reporter that Broadway’s perception of black people involved ”cardboard characters, cute dialect bits, or hip-swinging musicals from exotic scores.”

A Raisin in the Sun ended up playing for 19 months on Broadway. Hansberry won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for best play, and the 1973 musical was adapted from the play. It really was a play that made history.

As James Baldwin said in his introduction to Hansberry’s To Be Young, Gifted and Black, published after her death:

“…I had never in my life seen so many black people in the theater. And the reason was that never before, in the entire history of the American theater, had so much of the truth of black people’s lives been seen on the stage. Black people ignored the theater because the theater had always ignored them.”

A true American classic.

 

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Sadly, Hansberry died young – at age 34 of pancreatic cancer.

  • A Raisin in the Sun (1959)
  • A Raisin in the Sun, screenplay (1961)
  • “On Summer” (essay) (1960)
  • The Drinking Gourd (1960)
  • What Use Are Flowers? (written c. 1962)
  • The Arrival of Mr. Todog – parody of Waiting for Godot
  • The Movement: Documentary of a Struggle for Equality (1964)
  • The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window (1965)
  • To Be Young, Gifted and Black: Lorraine Hansberry in Her Own Words (1969)
  • Les Blancs: The Collected Last Plays / by Lorraine Hansberry. Edited by Robert Nemiroff (1994)
  • Toussaint 

 

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I read this for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2017

– A classic by a woman author. 

The Conjoined

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This is a book that does not fit neatly into those categories with which booksellers file books. It would languish among the thrillers, because while being thrilling in the sense that a gruesome discovery has happened in the basement freezers, it is not your typical edge-of-your-seat thriller. It doesn’t quite slip into crime and mystery easily as while a crime has been committed, there is no real detecting going on that one has learnt to expect from crime/mystery releases. To me, the cover has a bit of Red Riding Hood/Handmaid’s Tale feel (red hooded cloak after all). But it neither is fairytale-inspired nor dystopian speculative fiction.

So where does The Conjoined go? I imagine this may confound booksellers. Literary fiction? Maybe? (To be honest the definition of ‘literary fiction’ has always puzzled me).

If it were up to me, I would file it under “Awesome Reads” (why yes, I do like the word ‘Awesome’). I like books that defy definition. Books that surprise me and take me places and issues unknown but not entirely unfamiliar. In this case, foster families in Vancouver, immigrant families in Canada, motherhood, family secrets.

And in also the death of a mother, the clearing of her things resulting in a gruesome discovery in their basement freezer, a police investigation and a daughter’s realisation as memories unravel. 

(And then you can’t help but think of your own family and wonder what secrets they are hiding.)

Jen Sookfong Lee has her own way with words. The best way I can think of describing it is that it is modern, gritty, honest, real. She doesn’t shun desperate thoughts or dirty notions. She doesn’t shy away from those deep dark things we keep to ourselves, at the back of our minds, or write in secret journals we keep under our beds.

 

I received this book from its publisher ECW Press via Netgalley. 

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I read this for Akilah’s Diversity on the Shelf challenge

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Read Diverse Books Year-Round

Top Anticipated Releases of the second half of 2016

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Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For The Second Half Of The Year

So many good books coming out in the second half of the year! But I thought I would feature upcoming books that are, well, a bit more diverse. And also some that are translated.

Here’s what I found on Netgalley. Most of them are literary fiction. Release dates are for the US, if I’m not wrong!

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The Conjoined – Jen Sookfong Lee (ECW Press, 13 Sep 2016, literary fiction)

On a sunny May morning, social worker Jessica Campbell sorts through her mother’s belongings after her recent funeral. In the basement, she makes a shocking discovery — two dead girls curled into the bottom of her mother’s chest freezers. She remembers a pair of foster children who lived with the family in 1988: Casey and Jamie Cheng — troubled, beautiful, and wild teenaged sisters from Vancouver’s Chinatown. After six weeks, they disappeared; social workers, police officers, and Jessica herself assumed they had run away.

As Jessica learns more about Casey, Jamie, and their troubled immigrant Chinese parents, she also unearths dark stories about Donna, whom she had always thought of as the perfect mother. The complicated truths she uncovers force her to take stock of her own life.

Moving between present and past, this riveting novel unflinchingly examines the myth of social heroism and traces the often-hidden fractures that divide our diverse cities.

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Harmless like you – Rowan Hisayo Buchanan (2017, Literary Fiction)

An exciting new voice in fiction captures the fragile personal histories of an estranged mother and son.

Written in startlingly beautiful prose, HARMLESS LIKE YOU is set across New York, Berlin and Connecticut, following the stories of Yuki Oyama, a Japanese girl fighting to make it as an artist, and Yuki’s son Jay who, as an adult in the present day, is forced to confront his mother who abandoned him when he was only two years old.

HARMLESS LIKE YOU is an unforgettable novel about the complexities of identity, art, adolescent friendships and familial bonds, offering a unique exploration of love, loneliness and reconciliation.

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Vampire in Love – Enrique Vila-Matas (New Directions, 6 Sep 2016, Literary Fiction)

Gathered for the first time in English, and spanning his entire career, Vampire in Love offers a selection of the Spanish master Enrique Vila-Matas’s finest short stories. An effeminate, hunchbacked barber on the verge of death falls in love with a choirboy. A fledgling writer on barbiturates visits Marguerite Duras’s Paris apartment and watches his dinner companion slip into the abyss. An unsuspecting man receives a mysterious phone call from a lonely ophthalmologist, visits his abandoned villa, and is privy to a secret. The stories in Vampire in Love, selected and brilliantly translated by the renowned translator Margaret Jull Costa, are all told with Vila-Matas’s signature erudition and wit and his provocative questioning of the interrelation of art and life.

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Taduno’s Song – Odafe Atogun (Canongate Books, 4 Aug 2016, Literary Fiction)

The day a stained brown envelope arrives from Taduno’s homeland, he knows that the time has come to return from exile.
Arriving full of trepidation, the musician discovers that his community no longer recognises him, believing that Taduno is dead. His girlfriend Lela has disappeared, taken away by government agents. As he wanders through his house in search of clues, he realises that any traces of his old life have been erased. All that was left of his life and himself are memories. But Taduno finds a new purpose: to unravel the mystery of his lost life and to find his lost love. Through this search, he comes to face a difficult decision: to sing for love or to sing for his people.
Taduno’s Song is a moving tale of sacrifice, love and courage.

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The Stationmaster – Jiro Asada (Shueisha, 10 Jun 2016, Literary fiction)

Jiro Asada’s The Stationmaster is among the most cherished works by this very well-known Japanese writer, and it’s a great pleasure to be able to introduce this version to English readers.….. Some of them—like the stationmaster of the title story—belong to a world that is traveling very fast and leaving them behind; their accomplishments are the kind nobody important recognizes or values; they fill positions that will soon be obsolete; they’ve spent a lifetime of hard work that has led to very little. What does the life of the old stationmaster, Otomatsu, add up to from the world’s point of view? Or the life of the dying sex-trade worker in “Love Letter”? Hardly a whisper.
–from “Introduction” by Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, and a current Vice-President of PEN International.

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The Story of a Brief Marriage – Anuk Arudpragasam (Flatiron Books, 6 Sep 2016, Literary Fiction)

In the last months of the Sri Lankan Civil War, Dinesh’s world has contracted to an evacuee camp, where he measures his days by shells that fall like clockwork. Alienated from language, home, and family, he is brought back to life by an unexpected proposal from an old man in the camp: that he marry his daughter, Ganga. In the hours they spend together, Dinesh and Ganga attempt to awaken to one another, to reclaim their humanity.

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The Angel of History – Rabih Alameddine (Grove Atlantic, Atlantic Monthly Press, 4 Oct 2016, Literary Fiction)

Set over the course of one night in the waiting room of a psych clinic, The Angel of History follows Yemeni-born poet Jacob as he revisits the events of his life, from his maternal upbringing in an Egyptian whorehouse to his adolescence under the aegis of his wealthy father and his life as a gay Arab man in San Francisco at the height of AIDS. Hovered over by the presence of alluring, sassy Satan who taunts Jacob to remember his painful past and dour, frigid Death who urges him to forget and give up on life, Jacob is also attended to by 14 saints. Set in Cairo and Beirut; Sana’a, Stockholm, and San Francisco; Alameddine gives us a charged philosophical portrait of a brilliant mind in crisis. This is a profound, philosophical and hilariously winning story of the war between memory and oblivion we wrestle with every day of our lives.

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The Wangs vs the World – Jade Chang (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 4 Oct 2016, Literary Fiction)

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’sancestral 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.   Outrageously funny and full of charm, The Wangs vs. the World is an entirely fresh look at what it means to belong in America—and how going from glorious riches to (still name-brand) rags brings one family together in a way money never could.

 

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Chronicle of a Last Summer: A Novel of Egypt – Yasmine El Rashidi (Crown Publishing, 28 Jun 2016, Literary Fiction)

Cairo, 1984. A blisteringly hot summer. A young girl in a sprawling family house. Her days pass quietly: listening to a mother’s phone conversations, looking at the Nile from a bedroom window, watching the three state-sanctioned TV stations with the volume off, daydreaming about other lives. Underlying this claustrophobic routine is mystery and loss. Relatives mutter darkly about the newly-appointed President Mubarak. Everyone talks with melancholy about the past. People disappear overnight. Her own father has left, too—why, or to where, no one will say.

We meet her across three decades, from youth to adulthood: As a six-year old absorbing the world around her, filled with questions she can’t ask; as a college student and aspiring filmmaker pre-occupied with love, language, and the repression that surrounds her; and then later, in the turbulent aftermath of Mubarak’s overthrow, as a writer exploring her own past. Reunited with her father, she wonders about the silences that have marked and shaped her life.

At once a mapping of a city in transformation and a story about the shifting realities and fates of a single Egyptian family, Yasmine El Rashidi’s Chronicle of a Last Summer traces the fine line between survival and complicity, exploring the conscience of a generation raised in silence.

 

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Behold the Dreamers – Imbolo Mbue (Random House, 23 Aug 2016, Literary Fiction)

Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.

However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.

When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.

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How I Became a North Korean – Krys Lee (Viking, 2 Aug 2016, Literary Fiction)

Yongju is an accomplished student from one of North Korea’s most prominent families. Jangmi, on the other hand, has had to fend for herself since childhood, most recently by smuggling goods across the border. Then there is Danny, a Chinese-American teenager of North Korean descent whose quirks and precocious intelligence have long marked him as an outcast in his California high school.

These three disparate lives converge when each of them escapes to the region where China borders North Korea—Danny to visit his mother, who is working as a missionary there, after a humiliating incident keeps him out of school; Yongju to escape persecution after his father is killed at the hands of the Dear Leader himself; and Jangmi to protect her unborn child. As they struggle to survive in a place where danger seems to close in on all sides, in the form of government informants, husbands, thieves, abductors, and even missionaries, they come to form a kind of adoptive family. But will Yongju, Jangmi and Danny find their way to the better lives they risked everything for? Transporting the reader to one of the most little-known and threatening environments in the world, and exploring how humanity persists even in the most desperate circumstances, How I Became a North Koreanis a brilliant and essential first novel by one of our most promising writers.

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Badawi – Mohed Altrad (Grove Atlantic, 6 Sep 2016, Literary Fiction)

Published to wide critical acclaim in France, Badawi is Mohed Altrad’s heartrending debut novel, inspired by the author’s own narrative arc from Bedouin orphan to engineer and finally billionaire businessman.

In the Syrian desert, a young boy watches as his mother dies. She was a repudiated woman, abandoned by the boy’s powerful father, leaving Maïouf to his scornful grandmother. Though the Bedouin tribes have stopped their centuries-long travels across the dunes—their tents long since converted into sedentary shacks—Maïouf’s grandmother wants him to carry on tradition as a shepherd. But from the first time he sneaks off to the white-walled schoolhouse to watch the other children learn, Maïouf envisions a different future for himself. This is one extraordinary child’s story of fighting for an education, and a life, he was never supposed to have, from a tiny desert village to the city of Raqqa, from the university halls of Montpellier on to the oil fields of Abu Dhabi. But is a life of exile the one he wants? Can a child whose name means “the abandoned one” ever make a home for himself? With each step forward, he feels the love of his youth—a steadfast young Syrian woman named Fadia—and the shifting, haunted sands of his native village pulling him back toward the past he thought he had left behind.

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The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race – Jesmyn Ward (Scribner, 2 Aug 2016, Nonfiction)

National Book Award–winner Jesmyn Ward takes James Baldwin’s 1963 examination of race in America, The Fire Next Time, as a jumping off point for this groundbreaking collection of essays and poems about race from the most important voices of her generation and our time.

In light of recent tragedies and widespread protests across the nation, The Progressive magazine republished one of its most famous pieces: James Baldwin’s 1962 “Letter to My Nephew,” which was later published in his landmark book, The Fire Next Time. Addressing his fifteen-year-old namesake on the one hundredth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Baldwin wrote: “You know and I know, that the country is celebrating one hundred years of freedom one hundred years too soon.”

Award-winning author Jesmyn Ward knows that Baldwin’s words ring as true as ever today. In response, she has gathered short essays, memoir, and a few essential poems to engage the question of race in the United States. And she has turned to some of her generation’s most original thinkers and writers to give voice to their concerns.

The Fire This Time is divided into three parts that shine a light on the darkest corners of our history, wrestle with our current predicament, and envision a better future. Of the eighteen pieces, ten were written specifically for this volume.

In the fifty-odd years since Baldwin’s essay was published, entire generations have dared everything and made significant progress. But the idea that we are living in the post-Civil Rights era, that we are a “post-racial” society is an inaccurate and harmful reflection of a truth the country must confront. Baldwin’s “fire next time” is now upon us, and it needs to be talked about.

Contributors include Carol Anderson, Jericho Brown, Garnette Cadogan, Edwidge Danticat, Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, Mitchell S. Jackson, Honoree Jeffers, Kima Jones, Kiese Laymon, Daniel Jose Older, Emily Raboteau, Claudia Rankine, Clint Smith, Natasha Trethewey, Wendy S. Walters, Isabel Wilkerson, and Kevin Young.

100 must-read books by awesome Asian writers

I only recently discovered that May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage month, which celebrates Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. This is an American effort, but I think I would like to celebrate all Asian and Pacific Islander writers, regardless of their citizenship!

So here are, in alphabetical order, 100+ books written by Asian authors that you should be reading! Unfortunately, while I was writing up this list, I realized that I seriously lack knowledge of Pacific Islander writers. I hope to amend that soon!
Also, please keep in mind that these are merely the books that I have read, and that I have only included one book per awesome author although some of them have written many great books. I realize that there are many other fantastic books by Asian writers, but I have not read them all. So I hope to keep adding to this list. Please let me know what amazing books I am missing! 

 

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A Bride’s Story – Kaoru Mori (Comics, Translated)
A Golden Age – Tahmima Anam (my thoughts) (Fiction)
A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder (Inspector Singh Investigates #1) -Shamini Flint (my thoughts) (Crime/Mystery)
All You Need is Kill – Hiroshi Sakurazaka (my thoughts) (Comics, Translated)
American-Born Chinese – Gene Luen Yang (Comics)
Ascension (Tangled Axon, #1) – Jacqueline Koyanagi (my thoughts) (SF/Fantasy)
Beauty is a Wound – Eka Kurniawan (my thoughts) (Fiction, Translated)
Bitter in the Mouth – Monique Truong (my thoughts) (Fiction)
Bitter Sweets – Roopa Farooki (Fiction)
Bone – Fae Myenne Ng (my thoughts) (Fiction)
Burnt Shadows – Kamila Shamsie (Fiction)
Chef – Jaspreet Singh (my thoughts) (Fiction)
Death of a Red Heroine (Inspector Chen Cao #1) (my thoughts) – Qiu Xiaolong (Crime/Mystery, Translated)
Dream of Ding Village – Yan Lianke (Fiction, Translated)
Empire State: A Love Story – Jason Shiga (Comics)
Empress – Shan Sa (my thoughts) (Fiction, Translated)
Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng (Fiction)
Evil and the Mask – Fuminori Nakamura (Crime/Mystery, Translated)
Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China – Leslie T Chang (my thoughts) (Non-Fiction)
First Snow on Fuji – Yasunari Kawabata (Fiction, Translated)
For Today I am a Boy – Kim Fu (Fiction)
Funny in Farsi: A memoir of growing up Iranian in America – Firoozeh Dumas (my thoughts) (Non-Fiction)
Gabriel’s Gift – Hanif Kureishi (Fiction)
Girl in Translation – Jean Kwok (YA)
Huntress – Malinda Lo (YA)
I’ll be Right There – Shin Kyung-Sook (my thoughts) (Fiction, Translated)
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders – Daniyal Mueenuddin (Short stories)
In the Country: Stories – Mia Alvar (Short stories)
In the Shadow of the Banyan – Vaddey Ratner (my thoughts) (Fiction)
Inheritance – Balli Kaur Jaswal (Fiction)
Inheritance – Lan Samantha Chang (Fiction)
Island of a Thousand Mirrors – Nayomi Munaweera (Fiction)
Johnny Hiro: Half Asian, All Hero – Fred Chao (Comics)
Kira-kira – Cynthia Kadohata (my thoughts) (YA)
Lust, Caution – Eileen Chang (Fiction, Translated)
Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness – Jennifer Tseng (my thoughts) (Fiction)
Modern Romance – Aziz Ansari (my thoughts) (my thoughts) (Non-Fiction)
Ms Hempel Chronicles – Sarah Shun-lien Bynum (Short stories)
My Year of Meats – Ruth Ozeki (my thoughts) (Fiction)
N.P. – Banana Yoshimoto (Fiction, Translated)
Native Speaker – Chang-rae Lee (Fiction)
Nijigahara Holograph – Inio Asano (my thoughts) (Comics, Translated)
Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami (Fiction, Translated)
Ode to Kirihito – Osamu Tezuka (my thoughts) (Comics, Translated)
Out – Natsuo Kirino (Crime/Mystery, Translated)
Raise the Red Lantern – Su Tong (Fiction, Translated)
Red Sorghum – Mo Yan (Fiction, Translated)
Sea of Poppies (Ibis Trilogy #1) – Amitav Ghosh (Fiction)
Shinya Shokudo – Yaro Abe (Comics, Translated)
Showa: A History of Japan – Shigeru Mizuki (my thoughts) (Comics, Translated)
Sightseeing – Rattawut Lapcharoensap (Fiction)
Sky Burial: An Epic Love Story of Tibet – Xinran (my thoughts) (Non-fiction, Translated)
Sorcerer to the Crown – Zen Cho (my thoughts) (SF/Fantasy)
Stealing Buddha’s Dinner – Bich Minh Nguyen (Non-fiction)
Stick Out Your Tongue – Ma Jian (Fiction, Translated)
Summer of the Big Bachi (Mas Arai #1) (my thoughts) – Naomi Hirahara (Crime/Mystery)
Sunny – Taiyo Matsumoto (Comics, Translated)
The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye – Sonny Liew (my thoughts) (Comics)
The Assassin’s Song – M.G. Vassanji (Fiction)
The Boat – Nam Le (Short stories)
The Colour Trilogy – Kim Dong Hwa  (Comics, Translated)
The English Patient – Michael Ondaatje (Fiction)
The Foreign Student – Susan Choi (Fiction)
The Garden of Evening Mists – Tan Twan Eng (my thoughts) (Fiction)
The Ghost Bride – Yangsze Choo (my thoughts) (Fiction)
The Girl from the Coast – Pramoedya Ananta Toer (my thoughts) (Fiction, Translated)
The Guest Cat – Takashi Hiraide (Fiction, Translated)
The Headmaster’s Wager – Vincent Lam (my thoughts) (Fiction)
The House of the Mosque – Kader Abdolah (Fiction, Translated)
The Housekeeper and the Professor – Yoko Ogawa (Fiction, Translated)
The Inheritance of Loss – Kiran Desai (Fiction)
The Last Brother – Nathacha Appanah (my thoughts) (Fiction)
The Life of a Banana – P.P. Wong (my thoughts) (Fiction)
The Longshot – Katie Kitamura (Fiction)
The Makioka Sisters – Junichiro Tanizaki (my thoughts) (Fiction, Translated)
The Moon Opera – Bi Feiyu (Fiction, Translated)
The Namesake – Jhumpa Lahiri (Fiction)
The Old Garden – Hwang Sok-Yong (my thoughts) (Fiction, Translated)
The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories – Ken Liu (my thoughts) (Short Stories)
The Partner Track – Helen Wan (my thoughts)  (Fiction)
The People in the Trees – Hanya Yanagihara (my thoughts) (Fiction)
The Rape of Nanking – Iris Chang (Non-fiction)
The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro (Fiction)
The Rice Mother – Rani Manicka (Fiction)
The Song of Everlasting Sorrow – Wang Anyi (my thoughts) (Fiction, Translated)
The Song Poet: A Memoir of My Father – Kao Kalia Yang (Non-fiction)
The Story Hour – Thrity Umrigar (my thoughts) (Fiction)
The Sympathizer – Viet Thanh Nguyen (Fiction)
The Vagrants – Yiyun Li (Fiction)
The Village by the Sea – Anita Desai (YA)
The Woman Warrior – Maxine Hong Kingston (Fiction)
The Year She Left Us – Kathryn Ma (my thoughts) (Fiction)
This One Summer – Mariko and Jillian Tamaki (Comics)
To all the boys I’ve loved before – Jenny Han (YA)
Together Tea – Marjan Kamali (my thoughts) (Fiction)
Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window – Tetsuko Kuroyanagi (Non-Fiction, Translated)
Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth – Guo Xiaolu (Fiction)
Video Night in Kathmandu and Other Reports from the Not-So-Far East – Pico Iyer (Non-fiction)
Waiting – Ha Jin (Fiction)
When the Emperor was Divine – Julie Otsuka (Fiction)
Who Ate up all the Shinga?: An Autobiographical Novel – Park Wansuh (my thoughts) (Fiction, Translated)
Wolf Totem – Jiang Rong (my thoughts) (Fiction, Translated)

Diverse Books Tag

The-DiverseBooks-Tag

 

Naz at Read Diverse Books tagged me for the Diverse Books Tag

The Diverse Books Tag is a bit like a scavenger hunt. I will task you to find a book that fits a specific criteria and you will have to show us a book you have read or want to read.

If you can’t think of a book that fits the specific category, then I encourage you to go look for oneA quick Google search will provide you with many books that will fit the bill. (Also, Goodreads lists are your friends.) Find one you are genuinely interested in reading and move on to the next category.

Everyone can do this tag, even people who don’t own or haven’t read any books that fit the descriptions below. So there’s no excuse! The purpose of the tag is to promote the kinds of books that may not get a lot of attention in the book blogging community.

Find a book starring a lesbian character.

ammonite

One I’ve read: Ammonite – Nicola Griffith

Centuries ago, a virus wiped out the men and altered the surviving women. A book that questions gender.

palimpset

To read: Palimpset – Catherynne Valente

Between life and death, dreaming and waking, at the train stop beyond the end of the world is the city of Palimpsest. To get there is a miracle, a mystery, a gift, and a curse—a voyage permitted only to those who’ve always believed there’s another world than the one that meets the eye. Those fated to make the passage are marked forever by a map of that wondrous city tattooed on their flesh after a single orgasmic night. To this kingdom of ghost trains, lion-priests, living kanji, and cream-filled canals come four travelers: Oleg, a New York locksmith; the beekeeper November; Ludovico, a binder of rare books; and a young Japanese woman named Sei. They’ve each lost something important—a wife, a lover, a sister, a direction in life—and what they will find in Palimpsest is more than they could ever imagine.

Find a book with a Muslim protagonist.

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I’ve read: The Ms Marvel series – G Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

I love this comic! That is all.

thronecrescent

To read: Throne of the Crescent Moon – Saladin Ahmed

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The Bones of Grace – Tahmima Anam

Well I cannot be 100% sure that these books feature Muslim protagonists! I’ve never read Saladin Ahmed (who is Muslim) but I’ve been eyeing this book for a while. As for Anam, this is the third of her books in a series loosely tied together, A Golden Age and The Good Muslim are her other two books, fantastic reads set in Bangladesh.

 

Find a book set in Latin America.

Delirium

A book I’ve read: Delirium – Laura Restrepo

This book set in Colombia would also qualify for the book about a person with a disability as it begins with a man who returns home to find his wife in the throes of insanity.

lispector

To read: The Complete Stories – Clarice Lispector

Because I have never read anything by this Brazilian writer (although she was born in Western Ukraine).

Find a book about a person with a disability.

A book I’ve read: Inheritance – Balli Kaur Jaswal

One of my favourite books set in Singapore. This work of fiction highlights a number of minority voices in Singapore, a Sikh family (Singapore is majority Chinese), a gay man, and one with mental illness (schizophrenia).

farfromthetree

I’d like to read: Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity – Andrew Solomon

“Solomon’s startling proposition is that diversity is what unites us all. He writes about families coping with deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disabilities, with children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminals, who are transgender. While each of these characteristics is potentially isolating, the experience of difference within families is universal, as are the triumphs of love Solomon documents in every chapter.”

Find a Science-Fiction or Fantasy book with a POC protagonist.

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A book I’ve read: Sorcerer to the Crown – Zen Cho

One of my favourite books! Zen Cho is Malaysian and one of her characters is a Malaysian vampire, but the main characters are a freed black slave who is the Sorcerer Royal and a half-Indian woman (this is set in a sort of Regency England where you know, white men run things).

(Also this was such a hard one to pick just ONE, because I am a HUGE fan of NK Jemisin, from the first time I read her Hundred Thousand Kingdoms in 2012. And have since read all her books! And also, there is Nnedi Okorafor, whose Binti is perfection and Zahrah the Windseeker makes me wish I had a daughter to read that to – ok maybe I can still read that to my sons!)

emberashes

To read: An Ember in the Ashes – Sabaa Tahir

Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

graceking

The Grace of Kings – Ken Liu

Wily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships, and shapeshifting gods. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, they each find themselves the leader of separate factions—two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice.

Find a book set in (or about) any country in Africa.

 

A book I’ve read: The Book of Memory – Pettna Gappah

I loved this book set largely in a prison in Zimbabwe, where a woman has been convicted of killing her adopted father, who is white.

memoirsporcupine

I’m also going to mention, the fascinating and very weird Memoirs of a Porcupine by Alain Mabanckou, because I don’t think enough people have heard of this book, which has as its narrator the porcupine double of a man (my thoughts).

andaftermanydays

To read: And After Many Days – Jowhor Ile

Mostly because I have this book sitting on my tbr shelf. It is set in Nigeria. (Also here is a list of 25 new books by African writers via Lit Hub)

Find a book written by an Aboriginal or American Indian author.

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One I’ve read: Monkey Beach – Eden Robinson

Eden Robinson is from Haisla First Nation, an Indigenous nation in British Columbia, Canada. And oh my word, this book is a beauty. (My thoughts)

absolutelytrue

To read: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian – Sherman Alexie

The odd thing is that while I have read several of Alexie’s books, I have yet to read what is probably his most famous one!

 

 

Find a book set in South Asia (Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, etc.).

chef

One I’ve read: Chef – Jaspreet Singh

This book is set in Kashmir and is not a book to read on an empty stomach. Of course, since it is set in Kashmir that is violence and politics. Mournful and devastating.

scatterhere

To read: The Scatter Here Is Too Great by Bilal Tanweer

 A vivid and intricate novel-in-stories, The Scatter Here Is Too Great explores the complicated lives of ordinary people whose fates unexpectedly converge after a deadly bomb blast at the Karachi train station: an old communist poet; his wealthy, middle-aged son; a young man caught in an unpleasant, dead-end job; a girl who spins engaging tales to conceal her heartbreak; and a grief-stricken writer, who struggles to make sense of this devastating tragedy.

Find a book with a biracial protagonist.

everythinginevertoldyou

One I’ve read: Everything I Never Told You – Celeste Ng

Don’t think this book needs much introduction. If you haven’t read it yet, go! Get to your bookstore or library or just buy it online and read it already!

halfbloodblues

To read: Half-blood Blues – Esi Edugyan

The aftermath of the fall of Paris, 1940. Hieronymous Falk, a rising star on the cabaret scene, was arrested in a cafe and never heard from again. He was twenty years old. He was a German citizen. And he was black. Fifty years later, Sid, Hiero’s bandmate and the only witness that day, is going back to Berlin. Persuaded by his old friend Chip, Sid discovers there’s more to the journey than he thought.

Find a book starring a transgender character or about transgender issues.

 

 

a+e4ever

One I’ve read: A+@ 4ever – I. Merey

Asher Machnik is a teenage boy cursed with a beautiful androgynous face. Guys punch him, girls slag him and by high school he’s developed an intense fear of being touched. Art remains his only escape from an otherwise emotionally empty life. Eulalie Mason is the lonely, tough-talking dyke from school who befriends Ash. The only one to see and accept all of his sides as a loner, a fellow artist and a best friend, she’s starting to wonder if ash is ever going to see all of her…. a + e 4EVER is a graphic novel set in that ambiguous crossroads where love and friendship, boy and girl, straight and gay meet. It goes where few books have ventured, into genderqueer life, where affections aren’t black and white

 

redefiningrealness

To read: Redefining Realness – Janet Mock

In 2011, Marie Claire magazine published a profile of Janet Mock in which she stepped forward for the first time as a trans woman. Those twenty-three hundred words were life-altering for the People.com editor, turning her into an influential and outspoken public figure and a desperately needed voice for an often voiceless community. In these pages, she offers a bold and inspiring perspective on being young, multicultural, economically challenged, and transgender in America.

Thanks Naz! That was fun! 

I’m going to tag….

Kailana @ The Written World

Jenny @ Reading the End

Andi @ Estella’s Revenge

Vasilly @ 1330v

Buried in Print

Please try to tag at least 5 other people if you do choose to participate! Hope you join in!