Last week, I wrote that there are no easy answers or solutions to the problem of the underrepresentation of writers of color in the publishing industry.
As small step towards a solution, LaToya Jordan at The Rumpus suggests, might be to “take a look at our bookshelves and agree that we’ll all add writers who are not like us, whether that be because of race, gender, or sexual orientation.”
A white friend of mine wrote a great essay, which I hope will be online soon, about this issue. He said that as an anti-racist ally, one of the things he tries to do is read widely so that when people ask him for reading recommendations, he has a ready list of writers of color to recommend.
On Monday, fellow KR blogger Elizabeth Ames Staudt posted her list of literary things she is grateful for this year.
Inspired by all of this, I thought I’d take a look through my Goodreads “read” and “currently reading” bookshelves (it’s as accurate an account of my reading history as I’ve ever managed to keep), and make a list of books by writers of color that I’ve been thankful to have read or re-read this year.
Many of these have shown up on this blog already, but I recommend the following to anyone who wants to expand their bookshelf:
- Samiya Bashir, Gospel
- Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, I Love Artists: New and Selected Poems
- Michelle Chan Brown, The Clever Decoys
- Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Dictee
- Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, ]Open Interval[
- Amitav Ghosh, Incendiary Circumstances:A Chronicle of the Turmoil of Our Times
- Duriel E. Harris, Drag and Amnesiac
- Cathy Park Hong, Dance Dance Revolution
- Fady Joudah, The Earth in the Attic
- Ayane Kawata, Time of Sky and Castles in the Air
- Myung Mi Kim, Dura, Commons, and Penury
- Hari Kunzru, My Revolutions
- Douglas Kearney, The Black Automaton
- Mark McMorris, Entrep??t
- Haruki Murakami, The Wind-up Bird Chronicle
- Kristin Naca, Bird Eating Bird
- Sawako Nakayasu, nothing fictional but the accuracy or arrangement (she
- Craig Santos Perez, from unincorporated territory [hacha]
- M. Nourbese Philip, Zong!
- Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, Skim
- Monique Truong, Bitter in the Mouth
- Reetika Vazirani, Radha Says
- Ronaldo V. Wilson, Poems of the Black Object
- John Yau, Ing Grish
- Rainbow Darkness: An Anthology of African American Poetry, edited by Keith Tuma
Looking at this list, it’s clear where my own gaps have been this year. Not surprisingly, my list is mostly poetry, with only a few books of fiction and nonfiction thrown in. It’s almost exclusively Asian, Asian American, and African American. So next year, I’m going to be read more novels by people of color in general, and more poetry by Latino/a, Native American, and Arab-American writers. Do you have suggestions? Send them my way!