Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Few Good Men: CORA Diversity Roll Call

Ali is hosting this week at Worducopia. Our current assignment: we were asked to list or review POC titles with male leads and the setting is outside of the US and preferably YA titles or works suitable for teens. I put together a list. Some of my choices are books I read, some many years ago. I was difficult to find reviews (No surprise there). Most of my selections are also serious reads. I'm looking forward to reading others' submissions because I felt limited and frustrated in my search.

Keeper by Mal Peet
I am not, and will not ever be, a soccer buff - but this book gave me an appreciation for the game that I definitely did not possess beforehand. Peet has written a novel that weaves mysticism and football into one package that takes surprising turns. See review at Persnicketysnark.

No Longer At Ease by Chinua Achebe. I believe I read both titles for high school. Achebe is an accomplished novelist and poet. I enjoy his work. While the writing is deceptively simplistic, the social critique in all his work is thought-provoking and timeless. His work is highly anthologized in reference titles.

Obi Okonkwo is a young man, about twenty-six years old, who returns to Nigeria after studying in England at a university for four years. No Longer At Ease, begins with a trial against Obi that takes place a while after his return, and the novel then works its way backward to explain how Obi has come to be charged with accepting a bribe.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
...relentlessly unsentimental rendering of Nigerian tribal life before and after the coming of colonialism. First published in 1958, just two years before Nigeria declared independence from Great Britain, the book eschews the obvious temptation of depicting pre-colonial life as a kind of Eden. Instead, Achebe sketches a world in which violence, war, and suffering exist, but are balanced by a strong sense of tradition, ritual, and social coherence.

Out of Bounds by Beverly Naidoo. I've written about this title before. Compelling read and while the topics are complex and serious, this is very accessible for YA readers.
For almost fifty years apartheid forced the young people of South Africa to live apart as Blacks, Whites, Indians and 'Coloureds'. This unique and dramatic collection of stories, one for each decade, is about young people's choices in a beautiful country made ugly by injustice. But shining throughout the conflict and drama are acts of bravery that offer hope for a new rainbow country.

"Death of the King's Horseman" by Wole Solinka. I saw this play in college more than twenty years ago. Made an indelible impression on me.
...builds upon this story to focus on the character of Elesin, the King's Horseman of the title. According to a Yoruba tradition, the death of the Chief must be followed by the ritual suicide of the Chief's Horseman as the Horseman's spirit is essential to helping the Chief's spirit ascend to the afterlife. Otherwise the Chief's spirit will wander the earth and bring harm to the Yoruba people. The first half of the play documents the process of this ritual, with the potent, life-loving figure Elesin living out his final day in celebration before the final process begins.

They Poured Fire on Us From The Sky by Benson Deng, Alephosion Deng and Benjamin Ajak with Judy A. Bernestein. My daughter bought this for me one year for Christmas. I was very impressed with her choice. Like many gifts, I put this on the shelf but I've failed to read it. Maybe it's time.

Raised by Sudan's Dinka tribe, the Deng brothers and their cousin Benjamin were all under the age of seven when they left their homes after terrifying attacks on their villages during the Sudanese civil war. In 2001, the three were relocated to the U.S. from Kenya's Kakuma refugee camp as part of an international refugee relief program. Arriving in this country, they immediately began to fill composition books with the memoirs of chaos and culture shock collected here.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. My daughter read this for a college course and was very engaged in writing the essay for it. I read the other's book and planned to read this one, too. Quite a bit of controversy about some of the scenes for the movie. I'm very interested in seeing the film adaptation.

[F]ollows the story of Amir, the privileged son of a wealthy businessman in Kabul, and Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant. As children in the relatively stable Afghanistan of the early 1970s, the boys are inseparable. They spend idyllic days running kites and telling stories of mystical places and powerful warriors until an unspeakable event changes the nature of their relationship forever, and eventually cements their bond in ways neither boy could have ever predicted. Even after Amir and his father flee to America, Amir remains haunted by his cowardly actions and disloyalty.

I don't have a round-up for our last assignment. In fact, I need to write my review. Last week was hectic. Hope you all can forgive me this time.


rhapsodyinbooks said...

I read "Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe my first year in college. All I remember is that I liked it very much. But that was practically back in The Stone Age - I can't remember much of anything I read. It would be a good one for me to re-read!

Color Online said...

Same here. Too long ago.

Did you see our new Quick Reference button? I've been wanting to add it to make it easier to navigate here and now we have. Much simpler finding and adding code these days. I remember writing lines of code and I'm not a techi.

Doret said...

Susan, did you find it hard to find titles for this roll call?

Color Online said...

Hi Doret,

No, because I knew them all though I have not read them all. In fact, I own them all. I was stumped finding younger protags. I'll be looking for more though.

campbele said...

Here's another one for you: Tsotsi
It's a wonderful contemporary South African story and it was made into a movie a few years ago. It disappeared from me media center last year, if that tells you anything

Ali said...

Excellent list! I had thought of The Kite Runner when Doret first asked the question, but rejected it because of the violence--probably fine for older teens, though. (I forget sometimes, the things they watch in movies and so on.)

Things Fall Apart is my book to read for Amy's Fifty Books for our Time reading project so I'll be reading it before the end of the year.

No worries about the round-up. We do what we can.

Color Online said...


My entire class read Roots in the 8th grade and Black Boy is often required reading for high school. I don't see Kite Runner as any more violent or graphic as these. I had thought to add Long Way Gone as well. I'm usually thinking older teens, too.

Ali said...

I'm sure you're right. I read The Kite Runner just a few years ago, while I haven't read Roots since I was a teen myself. My standards have probably gotten more conservative since becoming a mom.

Rebecca :) said...

I loved Things Fall Apart when I first read it. I want to read it again this year and hopefully I will get to it! The Kite Runner is also a good choice. I have it but have not read it yet. I did read A Thousand Splendid Suns, which was amazing, but a bit more adult.