Women of Color & Horror: 10 On My TBR

Women of Color & Horror: 10 On My TBR

woc horror blog pic final

It’s September and for me finally the beginning of the creepy season, huzzah! I’ll just ignore that last small heat wave this week, go away please summer, I have my tea and candles and creepy reads ready! I have a lot of books on my tbr that fall under speculative, horror and mystery, but I’m also working towards seeking out and supporting more women writers of Color. I’ve chosen horror because it’s a genre I’ve been wanting to explore more and because, like science-fiction and fantasy,  horror can offer women of Color a space in which to disturb social conventions and transgress boundaries.

This here is a list of 10 works by WoC writers that can be considered horror (often also fantasy) and some of which may be new to you as well. Let’s start with a better known one:

white-is-for-witching

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi gr-pic

Haunted house story and a reworking of the gothic trope, Oyeyemi’s work is a psychological fest around trauma, racism and a sentient house set in Dover, England. I hope I’ll get to read it finally for RIPXI.

fabulous beasts

Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma gr-pic

This is a novelette or short story about two sisters or cousins and childhood abuse set in gritty Liverpool. Apparently it’s super disturbing and comes with trigger warnings for abuse, rape and incest, yikes! It’s published by TOR though.

alyssa wong

Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers by Alyssa Wong gr-pic

Silicon recommended Alyssa Wong’s stories to me and I’ll definitely read at least one this fall since her recs are always on point. This story has also received the Nebula Award for Best Short Fiction. It’s got a vampire and is about dating and relationships!

rena mason

The Evolutionist by Rena Mason gr-pic

Set in the suburbs of Las Vegas, Stacy keeps dreaming about killing and dismembering people. She feels she’s just a normal person having very vivid nightmares and so Stacy goes to see a psychiatrist, he turns out to be not quite so normal.

unhallowed graves

Unhallowed Graves by Nuzo Onoh gr-pic

“Oja-ale is the night market run by the dead. Everything can be bought for a deadly price. Alan Pearson is a sceptical British diplomat, contemptuous and dismissive of native superstitions…Until the day he receives a terrifying purchase from the Night Market, which defies Western science and logic.” (GR) Onoh is “queen of African horror.”

solitude

Solitude by Sumiko Saulson gr-pic

“Solitude is the riveting tale of diverse individuals isolated in a San Francisco seemingly void of all other human life. In the absence of others, each journeys into personal web of beliefs and perceptions as they try to determine what happened to them, and the world around them.” (GR) Saulson also curates a Black women in horror list here.

crescendo

Crescendo by L. Marie Woods gr-pic

 James’ comfortable life changes when he begins having nightmares after his lover’s death. A family curse, can he do anything or is this his destiny? Everyone in his family has secrets. Set in tranquil Rockland County, New York.

kristine ong muslim

Age of Blight by Kristine Ong Muslim gr-pic

“What if the end of man is not caused by some cataclysmic event, but by the nature of humans themselves? In Age of Blight, a young scientist’s harsh and unnecessary experiments on monkeys are recorded for posterity; children are replaced by their doppelgangers, which emerge like flowers in their backyards; and two men standing on opposing cliff faces bear witness to each other’s terrifying ends.” (GR) A collection of short stories with illustrations.

linda ddison

How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend by Linda Addison gr-pic

“From the first African-American to receive the HWA Bram Stoker award, this collection of both horror and science fiction short stories and poetry reveals demons in the most likely people (like a jealous ghost across the street) or in unlikely places (like the dimension-shifting dreams of an American Indian). Recognition is the first step, what you do with your friends/demons after that is up to you.” (GR)

due-soul to keep

My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due gr-pic

And of course one of my favorite writers! Last year I read Due’s The Good House and it was wonderfully atmospheric and I will make to read this one in broad daylight.

“When Jessica marries David, he is everything she wants in a family man: brilliant, attentive, ever youthful. Yet she still feels something about him is just out of reach. Soon, as people close to Jessica begin to meet violent, mysterious deaths, David makes an unimaginable confession: More than 400 years ago, he and other members of an Ethiopian sect traded their humanity so they would never die, a secret he must protect at any cost. Now, his immortal brethren have decided David must return and leave his family in Miami.” (GR)

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And a great opportunity to read horror and more with other book bloggers is Carl’s wonderful yearly challenge, R.I.P. – Readers Imbibing Peril, going on right now! It’s a book blogging institution and now in its 11th year. The challenge takes place from September 1st, 2016 through October 31st, 2016 and offers many different levels and genres, there’s something for everyone in it. Sign up here. I’ll be doing Peril the Second, but I hope I’ll read much more than two creepy reads.

Definitely take a look at Sharlene’s wonderful recs for a more diverse R.I.P here, she has great recommendation for all RIP genres, I know I’ll be reading The Hunter.

Lastly, check out my Queer Horror post for some creepy reading with LGBTQIA+ themes.

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

10 International LGBTQIA+ Reads

10 LGBT International

Pride month may be over but that seems like a good reason to keep promoting LGBTQIA+ literature. I mostly read books by Western women of color because I seek out stories of marginalization at the intersection of gender and race. But I want to read more of the experiences of marginalized people from other countries and cultures, too. Since I cannot choose my reading freely at the moment, I love to make tbr lists of what to read when I’m done with uni. I know, procrastination, but you all get to take a peek:

Miaojin last word from montmatre

Last Words From Montmatre by Qio Miaojin (Taiwan)

Posthumously published, this is a short epistolary novel about heartbreak, female sexuality, language and transnational Asian identity. Warning for what is apparently an experimental and modernist style.

hairdresser

The Hairdresser of Harare by Tendai Huchu (Zimbabwe)

Set in post-apartheid Zimbabwe, this book follows the rivalry and friendship of two hairdressers and takes a hard look at illegality and attitudes towards homosexuality. Have read it and can absolutely recommend it!

Black Bull, Ancestors and Me

Black Bull, Ancestors and Me by Nkunzi Zandile Nkabinde (South Africa)

This is a memoir of a sangoma, about life as a revered healer but also the difficult position of being a lesbian in a South African community. Resh, I think this is the healer book I was talking about!

twelve views

Twelve Views from the Distance by Matsuo Takahashi (Japan)

This is the memoir of the poet Takahashi about poverty, boyhood in rural Japan and becoming aware of his attraction to men before Western images of homosexuality were more widespread.

stone of laughter

The Stone of Laughter by Hoda Barakat (Lebanon)

Set around the Lebanese civil war, the novel follows a young gay man, Khalil, as he tries to escape political and military affiliations. This is said to be the first Arabic book with a gay main character, I had no idea.

lovetown

Lovetown by Michal Witkowski (Poland)

This one’s from Poland and about the clash between two generations of gay men, those who grew up in the age of communism and aids and the younger ones enjoying a post-communist world.

Red Azalea

Red Azalea by Anchee Min (China)

Min’s memoir about the last days of Mao’s China, being sent to work in a labor collective, finding solace in a relationship with another woman and then being recruited to work as an actress.

The Ucle's Story

The Uncle’s Story by Witi Ihimaera (New Zealand)

The book is about the story of both Michael Manahan and the titular uncle Sam, who fought in Vietnam and fell in love with an American soldier. Ihimaera writes about war, love and homophobia and the spaces for being gay in Maori and Western culture.

out

 Out! Stories From the New Queer India by Minal Hajratwala, ed. (India)

With the change in laws, more Indian stories about being ‘queer’ have been published and Hajratwala here collects different short stories about the experiences of the LGBTQIA+ community in India. The anthology features established and emerging writers.

pillar of salt

Pillar of Salt by Salvador Novo (Mexico)

This is the memoir of Salvador Novo, a man of letters, about growing up during and after the Mexican revolution, coming to literature and living as an openly gay man in Mexican society.

Have you read any of these works? Or can you recommend more?

Sadly, this list skews towards the tragic, so I’d love recommendations that go beyond that single story. But perhaps it also shows what gets translated and what gets published. Getting LGBTQIA books out is obviously more difficult in some societies than others, but I’m glad I found some available in a language I can read, though I am curious to see what might have been translated into German, since Germany publishes a lot of translations, luckily.

Read-along: Midnight’s Children- Book 1

Yay, back to blogging! Perhaps I really need deadlines to get things (blogging) done, because telling myself to get it together didn’t really work. Guess that means I should not be a boxing coach (one job to cross off the list 😉 ). But Jo from Bibliojunkie is hosting a read-along of Midnight Children, and it looks like this was the kick I needed to finally read some Rushdie and post something. So thank you, Jo! 🙂

I read Book 1 of Midnight’s Children today and now I’m wondering, why was I so intimidated and reluctant to pick it up? Rushdie’s works come with a lot of history and reputation, but most of all, they are thick books. I know a lot of you read chunksters regularly, but I’m more of a 300-400 page book reader. After finishing a particularly great book I always wish it had been longer of course, but a chunkster is more of a commitment, one that I shy away from, even if it is a “small” chunkster. But today, carrying this one around with me from home to the train to uni and back, I remembered the comfort of thick, well-worn books (paperbacks, I’m not a masochist). I just wish I could always be sure I’d love a chunkster before starting reading (mainly because I’m still bad with not finishing books, even ones I don’t enjoy).

And now for Midnight’s Children (finally, I know), I’m really enjoying it so far. It’s about Saleem Sinai, our likeable if unreliable narrator, born on the stroke of midnight, exactly as India gains its independence. As such, Saleem’s (hi)story and that of his country are irretrievably intertwined. His narrative is not a linear one, it is made up of fragments, representing the fragments in Saleem’s personal history and that of his family, as well as the fragmentation of India. Saleem’s identity is as diverse as that of his country, and in his narrative, he brings together the many faces of India. He tells of the colonization, the conflicts over religion and caste, the partition and independence, and manages to imbue his narrative with myth and magic as well as science and skepticism. I’m curious whether Rushdie will show that there is a place for both tradition and modernism, or if he will take the more realistic or pessimistic stand and have modernism wipe out “the old ways”. This ties in with the theme of east versus west and the problems of belonging (which are no doubt quite autobiographical) which are manifold. But I want to talk about these aspects next week.

I also enjoyed Rushdie’s use of an unreliable narrator (and with the topics that the novel concerns itself with, I am wondering whether a reliable narrator would be at all feasible. What do you think?), and the way he comments on storytelling. Saleem interrupts his narrative many times to foreshadow events, provide running commentary to his own narrative, or warn us that he will soon “take over” his story. Interestingly, he has a more immediate audience for his story than us readers, namely his companion Padma. Through Padma, Saleem (and Rushdie) anticipates readers’ reactions, such as impatience at the non-linearity of his narrative and irritation at interruptions when Saleem (the narrator as opposed to the character) makes an appearance:

Padma has started getting irritated whenever my narration becomes self-conscious, whenever, like an incompetent puppeteer, I reveal the hands holding the strings; but I simply must register a protest.” (70)

(I adore Rushdie for that semicolon!)

Padma also expresses the feeling of betrayal that readers often experience when the narrator turns out to be unreliable. This is most often the case with autobiographies (most memorably with Frey, A Million Little Pieces and Oprah), and we have to remember that in this context, Padma believes she is listening to Saleem’s autobiography. This fictional audience’s reaction to the narrative is one of the most interesting aspects of Midnight’s Children; Padma serves as an intermediary between narrator and reader, and I found myself constantly comparing her reactions and my own.

This is my first read-along in blogland, and I have to say it’s more difficult than usual to discuss a book without giving things away. I can’t really talk about Book 1 specifically without using spoilers, but the topics and themes from this first part are of course not limited to it. So I thought I would try to talk about one or two topics or themes in each post. This one would be narration and storytelling, I guess, and the next posts will probably focus on the binary of east and west and belonging, and (post-)colonialism and racism. Does that make sense? Is that something you’d like to read?

 

Also, you can still join the read-along, just pop over to Bibliojunkie and sign up!