Monday, August 10, 2009

What Do I Read Next: How To Recommend POC titles to non-POC readers

Colleen has a great post expressing her frustrations and concerns about how we go about recommending POC books to Caucasian readers. Personally, I have always found blanket requests odd. When girls ask for recommendations at the library or readers ask me for recommendations on my Black-Eyed Susan's, I start with questions. How do I know what you might like if I don’t know what you read and what you’re interested in?

Okay, let’s talk about what I read. Shingle on the door says we promote women writers of color. I read mostly realistic fiction. I lean towards the literary though for more than a year now, I’ve passed over a lot of literary works in an effort to keep up with what’s worth reading in YA. Not surprisingly what I read in YA very closely matches what I read in adult fiction: social and political themes, women issues, sexuality, body image, sexual orientation, culture, family, sci-fi, dystopia, historical fiction and memoirs. Genres I’m slowly learning more about include graphic novels and fantasy.

I love talking about books but I’m pretty lousy at writing reviews. Still, I’m always looking for more ways to share good reads with you. For the next few weeks, let’s try this: On Mondays, post your requests for POC recommendations for genres you enjoy, and I’ll answer your requests the following week. You don’t have to limit your requests to what I read. If I don’t have a recommendation, I’ll find someone who does. In the same post, I’ll share a title or two, providing links to reviews, identifying tags for the book and identifying books in the same genre for comparison.

To kick off “What Do I Read Next?” I highly recommend Purple Hibiscus. Nymeth at things mean a lot recently posted a great review. If you enjoy coming-of-age novels and like the writing style of writers like Chinua Achebe, I think you’ll enjoy Purple Hibiscus.

Set in Nigeria, Purple Hibiscus is the story of fifteen-year-old Kambili. She and her family live in fear of her father, a brutal and controlling man. Kambili’s father fights corruption and censorship, pays the school fees of numberless children, and helps those of his community who are in need. Yet in return he demands that they all share his strict Catholic faith, and rejects those who don’t, including his own father. And at home, he terrorizes his wife and children.

Tags: domestic violence, family, verbal abuse, coming-of-age, African writers, multicultural lit.

You might also like: Everything Good Will Come by Sefi Atta, The Meaning of Consuelo by Judith Ortiz Coffer or In The Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez.

21 comments:

Tarie said...

This sounds like an awesome new feature, Susan. And whoa, Purple Hibiscus sounds excellent!

Lenore said...

Purple Hibiscus does sound great! I am looking to read more lit from the African continent. Going to Kenya in November!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

So do only Caucasian readers have issues with coming of age, love, life, growing older, etc.? And if so, what are POC supposed to read? Are they not supposed to like any books by PONC? I would hate if someone looked at me and decided what to recommend to me based on my race!!!

zettaelliott said...

I loved Purple Hibiscus, and make sure you listen to some Fela Kuti while reading...was excited about Everything Good Will Come but was ultimately disappointed. Try Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi or 26a by Diana Evans...

Color Online said...

Rhapsody,

But it does happen. Ask Doret who works in a bookstore how customers and staff interact.

Zetta,

You sent us both didn't you? Icarus is high on my stack. I brought it home. I was going to push up Everything, too. Will have to look for 26a. Will add it to our wish list.

Do you know most of the books in our library, I can tell you how we acquired it? And I have many stories about what's in our collection. Do I sound like a bibliophile or what? lol

Doret said...

Susan, I love this new feature. I will help with the suggestions.

I have not read Purple Hibiscus yet. Don't know what I am waiting on.

susan said...

Doret,

Good. Because I almost wrote you in as co-writer for the feature. Thought I should ask you first. lol

zettaelliott said...

It's like you're running a shelter, Susan! you know where every stray cat or dog came from...though I can't say I donated Icarus Girl. I might have sent a duplicate of 26a, which is really good, and both novels feature girls born in England who visit Africa with their parents and are transformed by the experience when they return to England...for better or worse...

susan said...

I'm a mess, I confess. lol Ah, maybe it was Bernice who sent IG. She sent a box load of treasure during the drive.

Steph Su said...

susan, I don't think you're lousy at writing reviews. In fact, I'd like to see more of them! They're insightful, deep, and nit-picky (but in a good way). Plus, you always introduce me to books that I haven't heard much about, which I appreciate. Keep it up, please!

Color Online said...

Thanks Steph,

Stay tuned. Today is Male Monday at Ari's so I'm going to rewrite a review of Rats Saw God. Check BES.

susan said...

Changed my mind. Went with a character I really enjoy. Thulani from Everytime A Rainbow Dies.

Nymeth said...

Loved the post at Chasing Ray, and loved yours. Thank you for including my link. I must get my hands on In The Time of the Butterflies - I absolutely loved Julia Alvarez's How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents.

Also, I agree with Steph!

Color Online said...

Thanks,Nymeth,

I will loan you my copy of In The Time of the Butterflies if you like.

Hailey said...

Thank you susan for the lovely contest at

http://taste-life-twice.blogspot.com/

I appreciate it!

susan said...

Hi Hailey,

You're welcome. Don't be a stranger.

Beverly said...

Purple Hibiscus is a wonderful read. And Adichie is one of my fav authors. She writes beautifully and engages you in her stories. In this book you will see a slice of Africa that we is not often seen. I thought she did a good job of showing the growing pains - the traditional v modern and what happens when a parent forces a their dreams on their children.

bj neary said...

I have all of these books in my library and I will be reading the 2 I haven't read yet (based on this article), but I did read and loved the book, In the Time of Butterflies, and students who read it have really enjoyed learning about this family, the time of tumult in South America and the ruthless dictator, Trujillo! Readers rally around the Mirable sisters and their cause.

Color Online said...

Community,

Don't forget: we want your requests. What genre do you want us to feature next week?

MissAttitude said...

I'm very eager to read Purple Hibiscus, especially after reading Nymeth's review.
My genre suggestion is historical fiction (especially after that article came out in Multicultrual Review about Indian historical fiction for YAs) for the week.
I agree wtih Steph, you've introduced me to so many new books that I may not have found otherwise. I'm currently enjoying Rattlebone very, very much.

Color Online said...

Glad to hear it, Ari! Love to hear a young person talking about enjoying a book. Thank you.