So with all my social work classes ruining my enjoyment of all types of mainstream TV shows, movies and books (because they represent the "normalized white dominant culture," blah, blah, blah), I've started to explore their "alternative"/indie counterparts. When I look for books, I focus on the last name of the author as well as the gender. Lately I've been favoring female writers of color. It has been so fun to read books written with such different and fresh perspective on reality, life and resilience. They're great because they are semi-autobiographical in nature, so you know they're not bullshitting you--and yet have fiction woven throughout to make everything more poignant/poetic. It's great. And I am only scratching the surface!! Here are a couple of authors I've found so far:
Diana Abu Jaber is a writer in residence at Portland State University and I picked up a copy of her book Crescent because it was on sale at Powell's. After devouring that book in a matter of days (I finished it before we got back to Seattle!), I checked out her other book Arabian Jazz. Although her novels can at times be long-winded, overly descriptive and lacking focus, I really enjoyed them. She is half Jordanian and half Caucasian and explores issues of identity and belonging, immigrant displacement and being "in-between" cultures, managing to effortlessly weave this into greater themes of love and finding meaning in life. So it's not like her books are super "political" and fixated on issues of ethnicity/race. That's what I like about them! Basically, she's great. RECOMMEND!!
Faïza Guène is a French writer, the daughter of Algerian parents and grew up in the housing projects of Paris. I randomly picked her book Some Dream for Fools out of the "choice reads" section of the Federal Way library--her name caught my eye. :) Gosh, I just love books with strong female leads. The book is about a no-nonsense young woman that holds her family together following the death of her mother and the disablement of her father. She looks out for her younger brother, works, falls in love and writes (it's first person from her perspective) in a frank (i.e. lots of expletives--love it!) and insightful way. The book speaks to the universality of the immigrant experience in a Western country. I have her other book Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow on hold and can't wait to read it!
Something else exciting! On Wednesday, April 20th, two Nigerian-born writers will be reading their work at the Seattle Public Library downtown. Sweet! More perspectives. I'm so in need of different perspectives, different ways of seeing the world. Can you believe, this event is a part of "Seattle Reads," "a project designed to foster reading and discussion of works by authors of diverse cultures and ethnicities." Man, sometimes I can't believe how cool it is that public money is used to showcase "atypical" literature. You know, stuff that isn't about bored rich teens being sexually promiscuous..the fluffy, mindless noise to feed the masses. Haha, okay, done with that rant. Pictured her is Uchechi Kalu and she is a poet and activist living in San Francisco. Also reading is E.C. Osondu who published several short stories in a volume called Voice of America. I am also awaiting to receive their books on hold at the library. Cool, huh? After going to hear Tracy Kidder speak at Benaroya Hall I'm sold on the awesomeness factor of going to hear an author read their work and share about why they wrote what they wrote. It makes me feel more connected to the global community, ya know? :) Event info: http://www.spl.org/default.asp?pageID=about_news_detail&cid=1300834902539
So, that's what I've been reading lately. No more wading through the European classics! It's the same dang storyline: the scandal(!)/subsequent "ruining" of a female who dares to defy social norms and have an affair. Whoop de deeeeee. Hahaha..