Friday, January 1, 2010

Color Me Brown Links

Happy New Year. Here's to our first Color Me Brown post of 2010. I'm so excited. Several months ago we began a challenge here to champion reading and blogging brown and now in 2010 I am happy to report I'm involved in reading challenges that promote diversity and increase a collective opportunity to celebrate all writers and people. This year, I'm participating in Women Unbound, South Asian Authors, GLBT: The Challenge that Dare Not Speak It's Name, Social Justice and Young Adult Challenge. I'm reading brown. Join me, people.

Okay, so on to this week's featured reviews:

The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan reviewed by Su at su[shu]. Joining challenges has advantages. Joining Women Unbound led to discovering Michelle's blog. I have enjoyed her reviews and our interactions.

It’s a book that is set both in the present and the past; in America and in China. It’s a story that has both hope and despair, dreams and nightmares.

A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar reviewed by Shellie at Layers of Thought. Shellie is a regular reader here. I enjoy reading her blog as well. Let's hope she pipes up here in 2010. I've enjoyed our exchanges at her place.
In this wonderful, humorous, and powerful story - Nidali is a strong teen caught between self discovery, and the constraints of war within a culture where women are subjected to very confining roles. The story opens with her “Baba" hoping for a the birth of a boy, due to his awareness of the difficulties facing women in Kuwait. In doing so he accidently names her Nidal. When realizing she is a girl, he adds an i creating Nidali, the narrator’s name.

Out by Natuso Kirino reviewed by Mel Lu at The Reading Life Mel Lu has been quite prolific with her reviews for Women Unbound. Let's hope she'll join us for a little dialogue here.

In Out the problems center on rent, abusive husbands and dysfunctional children. If there are servants in their families they are it! They may not dress their boyfriends in expensive English Tweeds like Fusako in The Sailor who Fell from Grace with the Sea or be worshiped for their beauty like Mitsuko in Quicksand. They are kind of throw away women in Japanese society. They have issues that block them from the world of corporate Japan. Maybe they are half way acceptable looking to the men in their world (factory workers, security guards, loan sharks, lay- abouts of various sorts) but they are not in any way valued by the men in their lives. They are interchangeable. If one quits her job at the box lunch factory where they all work, nobody really cares. No one is going to go through any elaborate courtship procedure with them for any objective at all.

What have you read lately?


rhapsodyinbooks said...

I tried to read A Map of Home. I think I got to page 3. I just could not take the language! But I've heard many good things about it.

Happy New Year!!!

Color Online said...

I wondered if the language would be an issue for you. One group that read for a book club at the library didn't like it either.

Michelle (su[shu]) said...

Thanks for the link-up Susan.

Have whent over to read Shellie's review of A Map of Home. It sounds very intriguing, especially because it appears to explore the ambiguity of the borders in the Middle East.

I'm curious about your exchange with rhapsodyinbooks. What is it about the language?

PS: A slight correction, I think Mel at The Reading Life is a 'he'.. short for Melvin? =)

susan said...
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susan said...

Hi Michelle,

I think you're right. By titles and because of the challenge I did assume Mel was she.

Regarding language, Nidali swears a lot. Jill prefers work have little or no profanity and in this book the characters are quite casual about it. For me, it's not gratuitous but it could have equally good with less of it.

Mel u said...

Michelle is right-Mel is short for melvin-I am very into the Women Unbound Challenge as one of the dominant focuses of my life is to help my three daughters to become wise, strong, happy women while being true to the best of their Filipino cultural roots-a rising above those that should be left behind

I see how the media effects them-every day they see ads for products to lighten the skin, all of the women popular on tv and in tv commercials are way lighter in skin tone than as is typical of Filipino women-women carry umbrellas to keep the sun off them (this is not a terrible idea for health reasons but that is not why they do it)-often you will see a dark skinned poorly dressed female (none as a "yaya") holding an umbrella over a female child to keep the sun off her-I tell my daughters that skin shade has nothing to do with the worth of a person-sometimes I think they listen but it hard to fight the massive cultural biases and media to the contrary-in part this is a legacy of Spanish rule reinforced by American racial attitudes that prevailed during the American Rule of the Philippine but it is also an attitude prevalent in Chinese Philippino families-a lot of this is the legacy of colonialism but not all of it-The preference for lighter skinned mates,for example, was dominant in Imperial China before any period of real contact with the west-In never colonized Thailand dark skin is very looked down upon and is seen as a sign the person is a farm laborer in the rice paddies-

a part of the source of the issues in the Philippines stems from a very strong unwillingness of Filipinos to accept they fact that their ethnic heritage has a very large aborignal make up rather than being a transplant of Malay and Indonesian cultures-it is super hard to generalize about the Phillipines as up until WWII Filipinos really did not see themselves a Filipinos but as part of a localized identity-this is in part caused by the fact that the country is made up of 7000 island with about 50 with good size populations-and also the Spanish burned all the books they could find as they saw the strange scripts as the work of the devil!-to me the valuable thing the Philippines got from the Spanish was the God father relationship which creates very big extended family relationships-all of the relatives of your God father or mother (and you can have a dozen) are also your relatives-of course we also got the Catholic religion and over all I think that has been good (big issue)-

Color Online said...

Hi Mel,

Thank you so much for the cultural lesson and introduction. Are you familiar with Tarie's blogs? How old are your daughters?

Tarie does an excellent job reviewing children and YA books across cultures. She's Phillipino Check out Into The Wardrobe and Asia in the Heart, World on the Mind.

Please let me know if you'd be interested in guess blogging here. I have been enjoying your reviews.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for the link up of my review of a Map of Home.

And yes I will be "piping up here in 2010". :)

To respond to the comments - funny thing is that I don't recall a lot of bad language in the book.

I do know the subject matter is very down to earth, bringing up subjects that may be difficult to deal with - such as questions about one's sexuality. So many books today use profanity I am surprised that it was an issue for anyone.

Any how sorry about this late comment.