Friday, March 3, 2017

Diverse Reads on my Blog #6

Few months back I created a challenge for myself where I will read books that will take place in different continents from Africa to Antarctica to Asia to Australia to Europe to North America and to South America. I have finished my first read that takes place in Ghana, Africa and will move on to Antarctica with The Comet Seekers. Expect a post dedicated to Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi to come up soon! 

Blast from the Past: Diverse Authors

For Sarah Friedman, the chance to journey to the Southwest to buy Native Indian art for her family’s successful New York store comes at a time of personal transition. Determined to put aside romantic disappointments, she seeks new perspectives in the serenity of the vast desert landscape. Then her car breaks down near the home of a solitary artist on the Navajo reservation…

After years of turmoil, Ben Lonefeather has finally gained control of his life. He devotes his days to his work and caring for the coyotes he rescued as pups. When Sarah Friedman shows up stranded, he grudgingly offers her a room. Their practical arrangement deepens into a connection that leaves them both passionately alive, profoundly changed…and shattered by circumstances that will separate them. As Sarah and Ben seek to build meaningful lives, they will be forced to choose between love and duty, commitment and freedom-and learn to fight for what matters most…

How It's Diverse: I feel as if this book could go either way; as Allies of Diversity or Diverse Reads, although I chose to put it up as Diverse Reads because it has a practicing Jewish main character that takes place in modern times and in modern day instead of taking place during WWII. Allies of Diversity because of the sympathetic and human portrayal of Native American characters, as in both men and women are portrayed as human beings instead of being mystical. 

Louise de la Valliere is the middle section of the Vicomte de Bragelonne, or Ten Years After. Against a tender love story, Dumas continues the suspense which began with The Vicomte de Bragelonne and will end with The Man in the Iron Mask. It is early summer, 1661, and the royal court of France is in turmoil. Can it be true that the king is in love with the Duchess D'Orleans? Or has his eye been caught by the sweet and gentle Louise de la Valliere? No one is more anxious to know the answer than Raoul, son of Athos, who loves Louise more than life itself. Behind the scenes, dark intrigues are afoot. Louis XIV is intent on making himself absolute master of France. Imminent crisis shakes the now aging Musketeers and d'Artagnan out of their complacent retirement, but is the cause just? This new edition of the classic English translation of 1857 is richly annotatted and sets Dumas's invigorating tale in its historical and cultural context.

How It's Diverse:  As I mentioned in my previous posts, the author has Haitian ancestry, and its important to point that out he wasn't as white as thought. Unfortunately the book happens to be boring for me. 

For Kim Sun-hee's whole life, Korea has belonged to Japan. Sun-hee and her older brother, Tae-yul, have grown up studying Japanese and speaking it at school. THeir own language, Korean, can be spoken only at home, and some Korean things-like the flag-are not to be spoken of at all. When teh Emperor of Japan decrees that all Koreans must take Japanese names, Sun-hee and Tae-yul become Keoko and Nobuo. It is just one more step in a familiar process, but somehow it changes everything. THen World War II comes to Korea. No battles are fought on Korean soil, yet soldiers are everywhere. At school, teh students have war preparation duties instead of classes. But makng Koreans take Japanese names has not turned them into loyal subjects, ready to fight for Japan. WHen Tae-yul sees a chance to help his beloved uncle, whom the Japanese suspect of aiding the Korean resistance, he leaves home. Sun-hee stays behind, entrusted with the life-and-death secrets of a family at war. When My name was Keoko is a World War II novel with a  difference: two parallel stories seamleslsy interwoven into a taut, compelling narrative that illuminates the wartime experience in occupied Korea.

How It's Diverse: The author is of Korean descent, and the story takes place in Korea during WWII about how Koreans coped with the fact that Japanese controlled them as a colony. 

Blast from the Past: Allies of Diversity

Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's firece-hearted black "stand-in mother", Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolin-a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. Taken in by an  eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable novel about divine female power, a story that women will share and apss on to their daughters for years to come.

What Diversity It Has: Although its written by a Caucasian female and MC is Caucasian, it does portray African Americans as human beings, at least to me, and there is an interracial pairing between white female/African American male. 

Future Reviews:

The Most Dangerous Thing by Leanne Lieberman (The main character in the book suffers from depression as well as anxiety, and from what I can see she deals with her problems in a responsible way rather than something unrealistic) 

Sixteen-year-old Sydney hates to talk (or even think) about sex. She's also fighting a secret battle against depression, and she's sure she'll never have a boyfriend. When her classmate Paul starts texting and sending her nature photos, she is caught off guard by his interest. Always uncomfortable with any talk about sex, Sydney is shocked when her extroverted sister, Abby, announces that she is going to put on The Vagina Monologues at school. Despite her discomfort, Sydney starts to reexamine her relationship with her body, and with Paul. But her depression worsens, and with the help of her friends, her family, a therapist and some medication, she grapples with what she calls the most dangerous thing about sex: female desire.

One Half from the East by Nadia Hashimi

Internationally bestselling author Nadia Hashimi’s first novel for young readers is an emotional, beautiful, and riveting coming-of-age journey to modern-day Afghanistan that explores life as a bacha posh—a preteen girl dressed as a boy.

Obayda’s family is in need of some good fortune.

Her father lost one of his legs in a bomb explosion, forcing the family to move from their home city of Kabul to a small village, where life is very different and Obayda’s father almost never leaves his room.

One day, Obayda’s aunt has an idea to bring the family luck—dress Obayda, the youngest of her sisters, as a boy, a bacha posh.

Now Obayda is Obayd.

Life in this in-between place is confusing, but once Obayda meets another bacha posh, everything changes. The two of them can explore the village on their own, climbing trees, playing sports, and more.

But their transformation won’t last forever—unless the two best friends can figure out a way to make it stick and make their newfound freedoms endure.

5 Books I am planning on Tackling This Year: 

The Republic of Užupis by Haïlji,  Bruce Fulton (Translator), Ju-Chan Fulton (Translator)

Uzupis (on the other side of the river) is, in reality, a neighborhood in Lithuania's capital city of Vilnius, which took the peculiar step of declaring itself an independent republic in 1997. In this novel, however, it is the lost homeland of a middle-aged man named Hal, who lands in Lithuania hoping to travel back to the town of his birth in order to bury his father's ashes there -- in a place that might not really exist. In a literary tradition dominated by social realism, The Republic of Uzupis is a unique work of melancholy, Murakami-esque whimsy.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

A new tour de force from the bestselling author of Free Food for Millionaires, for readers of The Kite Runner and Cutting for Stone.

Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan.

So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.

Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee

Casey Han's four years at Princeton gave her many things, "But no job and a number of bad habits." Casey's parents, who live in Queens, are Korean immigrants working in a dry cleaner, desperately trying to hold on to their culture and their identity. Their daughter, on the other hand, has entered into rarified American society via scholarships. But after graduation, Casey sees the reality of having expensive habits without the means to sustain them. As she navigates Manhattan, we see her life and the lives around her, culminating in a portrait of New York City and its world of haves and have-nots. FREE FOOD FOR MILLIONAIRES offers up a fresh exploration of the complex layers we inhabit both in society and within ourselves. Inspired by 19th century novels such as Vanity Fair and Middlemarch, Min Jin Lee examines maintaining one's identity within changing communities in what is her remarkably assured debut.

The Patriots by Sana Krasikov

When the Great Depression hits, Florence Fein leaves Brooklyn College for what appears to be a plum job in Moscow—and the promise of love and independence. But once in Russia, she quickly becomes entangled in a country she can’t escape. Many years later, Florence’s son, Julian, will make the opposite journey, immigrating back to the United States. His work in the oil industry takes him on frequent visits to Moscow, and when he learns that Florence’s KGB file has been opened, he arranges a business trip to uncover the truth about his mother, and to convince his son, Lenny, who is trying to make his fortune in the new Russia, to return home. What he discovers is both chilling and heartbreaking: an untold story of what happened to a generation of Americans abandoned by their country.

The Patriots is a riveting evocation of the Cold War years, told with brilliant insight and extraordinary skill. Alternating between Florence’s and Julian’s perspectives, it is at once a mother-son story and a tale of two countries bound in a dialectic dance; a love story and a spy story; both a grand, old-fashioned epic and a contemporary novel of ideas. Through the history of one family moving back and forth between continents over three generations, The Patriots is a poignant tale of the power of love, the rewards and risks of friendship, and the secrets parents and children keep from one another. 

The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu, Royall Tyler (Translator) (Tale of Genji has four different translations: that of Arthur Waley, Edward Seidensticker, Royall Tyler and Dennis Washburne. I have read Seidensticker numerous times, thus I am planning on reading Tyler version) 

Written in the eleventh century, this portrait of courtly life in medieval Japan is widely celebrated as the world's first novel. The Tale of Genji is a very long romance, running to fifty-four chapters and describing the court life of Heian Japan, from the tenth century into the eleventh.

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