Building an Archive: The #DiverseBookBloggers Directory

ddbb header done

More exciting #DiverseBookBloggers news: We now have a directory up and running! It’s still a work in progress but please stop by and if you’re a diverse book blogger make sure to add your blog! And send me a photo of your header for example if you’d like one included. Also, we have badges! Stop by and make sure to grab one for your blog/space and link back to the directory. There’s also an “I support”- badge for allies, we’d appreciate the support and spreading of the word:)

FINAL iamdbb badgeFINAL isupport ddb badge

There’s a resource page, where we list book lists by bloggers that highlight for example Mexican-American authors or Chican@ Speculative Fiction etc. Please let me know if you have created such a list on your blog, we’d love to add it to the directory! An index page with categories for easier navigation will be up soon.

The directory will hopefully function as an archive and a resource for bloggers, authors and publishers. We’d like to make an impact collectively! So please stop by, browse, add your blog and follow us! I’m admin, so feel free to contact me with any concerns and questions you might have.

***

feature

In other #DiverseBookBloggers news, Whitney at Brown Books & Green Tea has started a fantastic new feature in which she will spotlight diverse book bloggers. She was kind enough to ask me to start things off and asked me some tough questions. Thanks so much, Whitney! So if you’re still not tired of hearing from me, make sure to read what I had to say here. And make sure to follow her for smart and in-depth reviews of diverse books!

What’s the last diverse book you read? Let me know in the comments!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading

The meme that we use to share what we read this past week and what our plans are for the upcoming week. Now hosted by The Book Date.

Last Week

i am a dbb badgeI support dbb badge

Exciting things were happening last weekend! Perhaps, if you’re on twitter, you noticed w had some great conversations going on under the #DiverseBookBloggers hashtag. It was wonderful to meet so many non-white, queer, non-Western and differently-abled bloggers and talk about what we want out of diversity in blogging and publishing! Check out the complete storify here.

“A conversation between @demelzagriff95 and @_diversebooks resulted in the creation of the #DiverseBookBloggers hashtag. Since May 17, the hashtag has exploded, resulting in more than 1,000 tweets from a wide variety of bloggers and Twitter users. This is just the beginning of the hashtag’s impact.”

I also finished two reads I’d been making my way through quite slowly, I don’t have a long commute at the moment and in my case that means audiobooks take ages.

We Need New Names was such a great read though I would have preferred to read it instead of listening to it, to follow the story better. I read this one for my reading more African lit challenge, though this is my second Zimbabwean novels, I need to branch out.

Obesity.The Biography is my second book from the autobiography of illness series, which is wonderful so far. Gilman’s work is usually amazing, but I would have liked a more in-depth discussion. Might try Gilman’s Fat.A Cultural History though.

anne chebu

My favorite read last week was Anne Chebu’s Anleitung zum Schwarz sein /Instrutions for Being Black, an introduction about racism experienced by Afro-Germans for Afro-Germans and it should be a good learning experience for white Germans. I fall somewhere in the middle and could relate so much, it was wonderful to find such a book for the German context. Sadly there seems to exist no translation, but if you speak German, definitely read this book!

5 on a theme

I also got some blogging done, posting a reading list for International Day Against homophobia and posted another instalment of my 5 On a Theme series, this time on Chicana and Latino/a Speculative Fiction.

Currently

I’m still trying so hard not to get distracted by shiny new books because I’m starting exam prep and will be reading Chicana literature and secondary lit in June. Don’t distract me with awesome blog posts about amazing books! ;D But you’re all welcome to join me in my reading!

What are you all reading? Let me know in the comments!

5 On a Theme: Chican@ & Latino/a Speculative Fiction

spec fiction photo

This was a difficult one! But since Chicana and diverse SF were requested, here’s my attempt to combine them. A note on terminology: I’ve included writers that I have seen included in Latino/a or have seen identify themselves as such. Some but not all also identify with the sometimes overlapping but radical Chican@, let me know if I got something wrong! Also, the @ is for inclusion of all gender identities but since Latin@ is something else, please excuse my binaries.

I think the difficulty in finding Chican@ and Latino/a science-fiction, fantasy and speculative fiction, without going in the direction of Latin America and magical realism, just goes to show that we need to promote these stories better and let authors and publishers know that we will greet these books enthusiastically. From what I can tell, writers and artists are doing amazing things in the borderlands as Vourvoulias uses the term for that grey queer space of non-/indie-/self publishing. They should be getting lots of acknowledgement and recognition in the limelight too. These stories are what I want to see when I enter a bookstore!

Lunar Braceros

1) Lunar Braceros by Rosaura Sánchez and Beatrice Pita

This science fiction novella is set in a dystopian 22nd century in which the US does not exist anymore and different territories have emerged. The new order connects to the history of oppression suffered in the Americas and is written with an explicit social justice approach which is what drew me to the book in the first place. I loaned this one from a friend who warned me that the ideas and politics were amazing but that the style was more lecture than dialogue. I’m glad I knew this beforehand and got so much out of it, such an amazing work, I would’ve gladly read more!

high aztec

2) High Aztec by Ernest Hogan

Techno Aztec/h city Tenochtitlan formerly known as Mexico city has stainless steel pyramids and lots of immigrant (I’m only using this term instead of refugee etc cause things are turned on its head with US citizens as those fleeing) influx from the declining US and Christian and Aztec beliefs clashing. There’s another problem though: Zapata! He’s a cartoonist carrying a virus and everyone is after him. Hogan has written genre fiction and I mean this in the nicest way possible. This is so cool and has been under my radar for far too long!

ink

3) Ink by Sabrina Vourvoulias

Dystopian fiction taking the anti-immigration rhetoric and politics of the US to its logical conclusion. People with such a history, Latino/as have to wear biometric tattoos and they are known as inks. We follow different narrators over several years and see them caught between these violent conditions, belonging, magicks and making connections. The four narrators made the book’s structure a bit chaotic but I loved it nonetheless! Also how awesome is this cover!

the assimilated guide

4) The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria by Carlos Hernandez

This is a new short story collection published by amazing RosariumPub. Hernandez writes strange, intriguing stories from a Cuban-American perspective. Expect everything from sexy robot pandas to quantum mechanics bringing along unicorns to illegal aliens! This is on my tbr.

Latino.a rising art

5) Latino/a Rising Anthology

I know, this one won’t be out till next year but I’ve been following their campaign and it’s so amazing to see there was enough support to get it done! The anthology will be published in 2017 by Wings Press. Vourvoulias will also apparently contribute a story and check out the line-up here!

***

There’s also an amazing article by Vourvoulias, where you can find Latino/a speculative short story recommendations and this list of Latino/a genre writers. Another great source is La Bloga’s Latino Speculative Literature Directory.

Do you read diverse science fiction and speculative literature? How do you come across them? Also: Do please leave me your faves in the comments!

10 Books for IDAHOT 2016- Reading against Homo-, Trans- & Biphobia

stop-homophobia

It’s International Day Against Homophobia 2016! Happily in recent years transphobia and biphobia have been included as well. As always, these actions seek to highlight the everyday and structural discrimination and violence enacted against the queer community and personally I celebrate the shit out of these days, even if it’s another day in the year round fight for freedom for all of us! I’m spending most of my time today watching queer shorts, yup that’s basically the event name😀 But then I remembered I do have a blog that like 5 people read, so here’s a list of my fave LGBTQIA+ books or ones that are still on my tbr. Remember to read them well and read them obnoxiously in the face of parading homophobes! *puts down SJW megaphone*

dirty-river-cover

Dirty River by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Queer femme of color memoir including Canada, migration, disability and anarchopunk!

under-the-udala-trees-cover

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

Nigerian civil war, coming of age, falling in love and being a lesbian in one of the most dangerous places to be so openly.

queer brown voices

Queer Brown Voices by eds Uriel Quesada and Letitia Gomez

Personal stories by LGBTQIA+ Latin@ ativists!

feinberg

Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg

Novel about growing up a butch lesbian in a blue-collar community by awesome activist Leslie Feinberg!

stealing nazreen

Stealing Nasreen by Farzana Doctor

Indo-Canadian novel about identity and belonging and being a lesbian in different communities.

staceyann chin

The Other Side of Paradise by Staceyann Chin

Memoir by one of my fave spoken-word performers about growing up a lesbian in different homes in Jamaica and finally belonging and finding her voice.

aristotle

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

I have so much love for this one! Two boys exploring family and identity and finding each other. Has to be one of the most beautifully written books ever, prepare to cry.

june jordan

Directed by Desire by June Jordan

Epic June Jordan’s epic poetry collection. This is the poetry you need, rooted in race, class and gender analysis and impacted by Jordan’s blazing LGB activism. Yes, I keep this book on my nightstand!

finlater

Finlater by Sean Stewart Ruff

Too rarely listed coming of age story about a Black and a Jewish boy in 1970s Ohio. This is about love, friendship and racism and segregation.

janet mock

Redefining Realness by Janet Mock

Janet Mock  of #GirlsLikeUs talks about identity, transitioning, New York and finally telling her story. This is on my tbr for this year.

Obviously I left out a ton of amazing works, can’t list ’em all. But: Do let me know your favorite LGBTIQIA+ fiction and non-fiction in the comments!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading

The meme that we use to share what we read this past week and what our plans are for the upcoming week. Now hosted by The Book Date.

Last Week

It wasn’t my best week of blogging. I had tons of other stuff to do and then with the weather getting warmer, my migraine started coming back stronger. So I apologize for not posting and commenting a lot, I am trying to catch up at the moment and tried leaving some love on twitter!:)

This also means I didn’t get too much reading done sadly, I was hoping to make a dent in my pile since I will now shift my focus on to exam reading. But I did manage to finish the two books I had planned for Deepika’s RK Narayan readalong (thanks for hosting!!) and I really enjoyed both of them. I reviewed The English Teacher here and will post a review of Malgudi Days soon. I will definitely be reading more of his works. Which one should I read after these two?

 

Currently

Well, I am reading lots of secondary literature on Chicana feminism and have started rereading La Frontera/ Borderlands, which is always a pleasure and learning experience.

Gloria-Anzaldua-Borderlands-0829-main

Since it’s the long weekend I wanted to read some escapism, but another migraine bout took me out. So I will try today to finish this one today:

17333319

Next week

My plans are pretty much to finish some of the books and audiobooks I started and then discarded, there were too many options😀 Specifically I want to finish and review this one

articulating dinoaurs

And since I finally, finally got my copy of Kynship by Daniel Heath Justice, I want to read that one. Because I ordered it for Once Upon a Time and that’s been ages. The cover looks uum interesting, I wouldn’t have picked it up from that, but love the sound of some decolonial indigenous fantasy!!

kynship

What have you been reading? Any special reading plans? Let me know in the comments!

Thoughts: The English Teacher

narayan

It’s been a busy week for me and between migraine season kicking off and helping my family move stuff, I haven’t had the energy to blog. But I did manage to finish the lovely and heartbreaking The English Teacher, so here is a quick pot about my thoughts! This is my first time reading R.K. Narayan and it was high time! Luckily, Deepika is hosting this readalong and I am currently reading through Narayan’s short story collection Malgudi Days. Oh Malgudi! I will definitely be reading more Narayan.

The English Teacher is set in India of the 150s and we meet Krishna, our protagonist, as he is living in a college hostel and teaching English at the school where he himself used to be a pupil. Despite living in this enclosed environment, he is married and has a young child. We see Krishna taking small steps, making preparations for his wife and child to join him and so setting off to find a good house, where they can be together as well as have a space away from each other. The discussions with his fellow teachers and Krishna’s thoughts about teaching and family were amusing and I was all in the mood for this novel to be a delightful read. Well, it was but it took a decidedly darker turn quite soon. Since these events can be found in summaries and even the goodreads description, I will not regard my thoughts here as spoilers. Nevertheless, if you truly wish to go into reading this novel blind, then please stop reading here!

.

.

.

The first chapters show us how Krishna deals with leaving his prolonged bachelor life in the hostel to become a family man. Although this does not leave him any more time for writing poetry than his somewhat unsatisfying job, he reaches a stage of contented domesticity. Up until this point, I was utterly enthralled reading about such ordinary things as the family’s domestic happiness, written with a humorous touch in Narayan’s skilled prose. And then Krishna’s wife Sushila became ill and died. It was such a shocking twist and I was not at all prepared for the heartbreak and felt for Krisha and his sudden grief. It is heartbreaking to read his thoughts about learning life’s lessons:

“We come together only to go apart again. It is one continuous movement. They move away from us as we move away from them. The law of life can’t be avoided. The law comes into operation the moment we detach ourselves from our mother’s womb. All struggle and misery in life is due to our attempt to arrest this law or get away from it or in allowing ourselves to be hurt by it. The fact must be recognized. A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life.”

It was all the more shocking to learn about the parallels to the author’s life. The English Teacher is not autobiographical but it may as well be. And as such the sudden turn the novel took towards the spiritual made me react with compassion rather than dissatisfaction or skepticism. So even if Narayan was always trying to contact his wife in the spiritual realm, I was happy it worked out for Krishna and gave him a the possibility for closure. He also finds his place in caring for his daughter Leela and working in the nursery, learning from the way children interact with the world.

Another aspect that drew me in was how Narayan would treat colonialism, especially regarding Krishna’s occupation as an  English teacher. Without making this the focus of the novel or taking a stance directly, Narayan does criticize the educational system colonialism has put into place:

“This education has reduced us to a nation of morons; we were strangers to our own culture and camp followers of another culture, feeding on leavings and garbage (…) What about our own roots? (…) I am up against the system, the whole method and approach of a system of education which makes us morons, cultural morons, but efficient clerks for all your business and administration offices.”

Without taking issue with English literature and the greats such as Shakespeare, this quote does seem to call for a turn towards the roots and the culture(s) of India. I know Narayan is celebrated in both India and the western world, but I don’t really have much knowledge about the stance he took on these issues and how Indian novelists writing in English are regarded nowadays. There were several critical comments made by Krishna throughout the novel and though I would have liked to explore this issue more, the way the ordinary becomes extraordinary in Narayan’s writing was a joy to discover.

What are your thoughts on The English Teacher? Let me know in the comments!

Thoughts: One Crazy Summer

gaither sisters

One Crazy Summer is the first book in a middle-grade trilogy about three Black sisters growing up during the 1960s/70s. In the (crazy) summer of 1968, Delphine, Vonetta and Fern are sent by their father to Oakland, California to visit their mother Cecile, who left them years ago. Instead of spending time with her estranged daughters, Cecile sends them to the Black Panther People’s Center for some real education (and perhaps some convenient babysitting) and holes herself up in her kitchen.

You can see how Williams-Garcia sets the stage here not only for some much-needed Black historical fiction, but also an exploration of the meaning of family, of love and abandonment and growth. The book shines with outstanding characters against the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement, but the tone is never preachy and the social commentary handled subtly.

Eleven going on twelve Delphine narrates this story, and she is a mature and strong young girl with too much responsibility as she tries to take on the role of mother to her younger sisters. Through Delphine we hear Big Ma’s opinion on those militants in berets she sees on tv who are just making trouble, Delphine being told to be a good girl because she presents the entire Black community; we see her learning about the community support system set up by the Black Panthers. There’s a lot of learning and growing done by the girls in Oakland.

Another aspect I loved was the mother-daughter relationship between Cecile and Delphine wo, unlike her sisters, still has memories of her mother.The author handles this relationship so well, this is not about making Cecile a villain or a corny happy end, but instead Delphine learns of her mother’s identity as a person outside of being a mother. Cecile who is now Sister Nzilla turns out to be a poetess of the revolution. It is clear that she does not want to be a mother and does not want to sacrifice her identity for this role. Her behavior and carelessness will shock many, but I appreciate that we learn a bit about her marriage and her reasons for leaving. While Nzilla tells her daughter to enjoy being a kid, it is clear that Delphine felt she had to sacrifice being a child. Perhaps this is a lesson in selfishness that Delphine can learn from. Williams-Garcia makes it possible for readers to feel compassion for Nzilla, for all that she is a terrible mother.

And the younger sisters come to life as well: Vonetta with her desire for being seen and heard, practicing for the stage and then getting stage freight. But also caught between wanting to make friends and being loyal to her sisters. And little Fern who is made fun of for carrying a white doll around with her everywhere and never getting her mother to use her real name. But oh, little Fern gets her moment toward the end of the book and it is utterly amazing!

For the weighty subjects covered, One Crazy Summer is a fun and quick read and I wasn’t quite ready to let go of the Gaither sisters. Luckily there are two sequels that I immediately put on my tbr after finishing the book. I’m glad I found a new-to-me author who has also quite the backlist for me to explore. And it looks like I need to explore more middle-grade literature, not that I’m especially biased towards it, but it was just rarely on my radar!

Other thoughts:

Ana @ Things Mean A Lot

Lady Business

Reading in Color

Rhapsody in Books

The Englishist

Have you reviewed this book? Let me know and I’ll add a link!

(Why) Should we read middle-grade fiction? Tell me in the comments!