Over past couple of years I have made it a priority to read more widely. What do I mean by reading more widely? For me it has been to read books written by authors of color and/or authors who are from a different country or ethnic background than me. My goal in doing this is to get a bigger vision of the world around me by allowing myself to see life through someone else’s eyes and walk a mile (or a few hundred pages) in their shoes.
What does #OwnVoices mean? #OwnVoices is a term coined by the writer Corinne Duyvis, and refers to an author from a marginalized or under-represented group writing about their own experiences/from their own perspective, rather than someone from an outside perspective writing as a character from an underrepresented group.
Slowly I am gaining a better understanding of history and cultures that are different than mine. There is a lot to be learned by experiencing a bit of life from someone else’s perspective.
Here are some of the novels I have read recently and loved, written by non-white authors:
The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali Love, family and loss in pre-revolutionary Iran. Beautifully written.
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi Must read! Two half sisters, unknown to each other, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana and experience profoundly different lives and legacies throughout subsequent generations.
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia Three sisters travel from Brooklyn to Oakland, California in 1968 to spend the summer with the mother who abandoned them.
Pride by Ibi Aanu Zoboi A Pride and Prejudice reboot in modern day Brooklyn.
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan Romance and weddings with the ultra-rich in Singapore.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones This book "stuns with its emotional intensity, and grapples with the universal and relatable themes of what it means to be a husband, a wife, a father, a son, a daughter--as well as what it means to be black in America today."
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid Explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone "family," the complicated reality of being a grown up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead Formed in the crucible of the evils Jim Crow wrought, the boys' fates will be determined by what they endured at The Nickel Academy. Based on the real story of a reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped the lives of thousands of children.
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams A young, Black woman with hopes and dreams finds herself spiralling downwards after making questionable decisions and hating herself for it, but with a little help she figures things out and gets going back in the upward direction.
You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson Being a Black teenage girl in a small Indiana town isn't easy. Liz Lighty finds out who she is and what she's made of.
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson Two families from different social classes are joined together by an unexpected pregnancy and the child that it produces.
Isaiah Quintabe has, against many odds, built a proper life for himself: a respected detective in his hometown of East Long Beach, a well-kept home, a growing library, and even a rehabilitated horse-sized pit bull (courtesy of his previous client). He is called IQ by the folks in his neighborhood. IQ is a remarkable modern day Sherlock Holmes who solves crimes with compassion and brain power.