Home » Uncategorized » GWC Reviews through August 3, 2013

GWC Reviews through August 3, 2013

Since the first of the year, 96 reviews have been entered on the Global Women of Color site.  Thanks to all who have included reviews here. I am pleased to have so many about such a variety of books and locations. Many reviews are excellent.  I plan to mention what is reviewed more regularly here.  I hope we have even more reviews and more discussion of them in the months ahead.

If you want to go directly a review, simply click on its author and title.  You can see information about the authors’ origin and find more recent reviews by going to the Reviews for 2013 spread sheet.

  • A Different Sky by Chand, Meira set in: Singapore – review by olduvai
  • While a work of fiction, Chand draws on important historical figures of Singapore such as its first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, Japanese diplomat Mamoru Shinozaki (credited as the ‘Japanese Schindler’ for saving many Chinese and Eurasians during the Japanese occupation of Singapore), Singapore’s first Chief Minister David Marshall etc. Chand succeeds in bringing to life these crucial events in Singapore’s history.

  • A False Dawn: My life as a Gypsy woman in Slovakia by Lackova, Ilona set in: Slovakia – review by Biblioglobal
  • A fascinating oral history of the life of a Slovakian Roma woman in the 20th century who became a playwright and an advocate for her community.

  • A Spy in the House (The Agency #1) by Lee, Y.S. set in: England – review by Olduvai
  • A promising mystery series set in the Victorian era starring a female detective with a mysterious past

  • Am I Black Enough for You by Heiss, Anita set in: Australia – review by Marilyn
  • A valuable, informative account by an urbane, educated, highly successful Aboriginal Australian woman about her life and her work to include Aboriginal people in her nation’s conversation.

  • Am I black enough for you” by Heiss, Anita set in: Australia – review by Whispering Gums
  • Chatty but authoritative manifesto-cum-memoir by Anita Heiss about indigenous identity in Australia, aiming to correct stereotypes that suggest you have to be “black” and “desert-dwelling” to be truly indigenous.

  • An Atlas of Impossible Longing by Roy, Anuradha set in: India – review by Eva
  • While the book had its strengths, with Roy able to conjure up the atmosphere and little quirky touches needed for a neo-Gothic style, I ultimately found it sadly unsatisfying. This is a debut, though, so I hope her future works live up to the potential I glimpsed in this one.

  • Angel by Collins, Merle set in: Grenada – review by writereaderly
  • My first Grenadian novel. It covers the 30-odd years leading up to the US invasion in 1983, with the attendant political and social changes wrought by the fall of the plantation system, the end of British rule and the coming of Black Power and feminism to small, exploited Grenada. Partly written in Grenadian English, it takes a while to get into the rhythm – but I enjoyed reading about a country and history which had never crossed my life or reading before. Interesting and recommended.

  • Anna In Between by Nunez, Elizabeth. set in: Trinidad? – review by Marilyn
  • A warm, moving novel by Caribbean author about a successful New York editor visiting her parents back on her home island and rethinking her own racial identity.

  • Aya by Abouet, Marguerite set in: Ivory Coast – review by Niranjana
  • Charming, funny graphic novel about 3 post-adolescent girls in 1970s Ivory Coast.

  • Beautiful Thing by Faliero, Sonia set in: India – review by Teresa
  • By following one bar dancer and occasionally getting in detail about others, it made it all more viscerally real than a non fiction book of statistics and disjointed anecdotes. All throughout, Faleiro gives you a sense of conversation, personality, and vocabulary

  • Belonging by hooks, bell set in: USA – review by writereaderly
  • bell hooks was recently recommended to me, and this title was the one that most resonated of those available. I wasn’t particularly impressed, however. It is a compilation and republication of essays on Kentucky, Baba (her grandmother), country living, quilting, rural black life, blackness. A few new concepts were added to my thinking, but generally the writing wasn’t more than workwomanlike nor the content novel. I was especially annoyed at this book as a publishing event: it was the least professional book I think I have ever read. The copy-editing reached new levels of shoddiness, with errors on every second page or so (quote marks should not look like “this’ for an entire chapter). Numerous essays frequently overlapped, without adding much in the way of new thought even the first time an idea was sounded out. No references were provided in a purportedly pop-academic publication. Methinks it was a money-grab by Routledge and bh, and that they ought to be ashamed of themselves. Didn’t get to the end of it, unremarkable and unrecommended.

  • Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina by Cepeda, Raquel set in: US, Dominican Republic, Morocco – review by Melissa
  • A memoir in which the author explores her ancestry via DNA testing. As she begins tracing her genetic trail, her journey will take her back to the Dominican Republic as well as different parts of Africa. When she takes history and colonization into account, she’s able to start piecing together a rough idea of her ancestors’ narratives.

  • Black Milk: On the Conflicting Demands of Writing, Creativity, and Motherhood. by Shafak, Elif. set in: Turkey – review by Marilyn
  • A gentle, often humorous memoir by a Turkish woman finding it difficult to continue as a writer when she becomes a mother.

  • Black Water Rising by Locke, Attica set in: Houston, Texas, USA – review by Marilyn
  • A complex and powerful mystery which probes the meaning of race and power in an individual and in a city during the years after the civil rights movement in Houston. Attica Locke is a black woman who uses the mystery genre as a lens for revealing how the public and political play out in the private lives.

  • Blessed are the Dead by Nunn, Malla set in: South Africa – review by marilyn
  • Another of Malla Nunn’s great mystery series set in South Africa under apartheid.

  • Car Maintenance, Explosives and Love by Hawthorne, Susan; Dunsford, Cathie; Sayers, Susan (eds.) set in: Australia, NZ, UK – review by writereaderly
  • “I confess: I bought this for the fabulous Tina FiveAsh cover photo. I’d owned this book when I was young and impressionable, passed it on in some travelling bookshelf cull, and was recently reminded how great this photo was. Unfortunately, the internet’s language–image interface is not yet sophisticated enough to let me key in “lesbians car kissing 1950s” and have this shot delivered to me, so I’ll be happy to keep it in book form.
    I confess more: having reread more than half of the anthology, I thought I’d *only* be keeping it for the cover. This is a 1997 compilation of Australian and NZ lesbians’ writings, with a healthy representation of Maori and (one) Aboriginal woman. Many of the pieces are stylistically dated, quite a few are downright average, and it is unflattering to the reviewer to find one’s own writing good by comparison to others’ poor offerings (naughty me). However, by the end I had been convinced that there were enough smart, witty, well-written pieces among the drama, poetry and short stories compiled here to justify a couple of inches on my shelf. I think the book is best considered as a contribution to an ongoing dialogue of lesbian writers, a way of dejando constancia (leaving a record) of lesbian life, lives and culture. And as such, it is valuable and necessarily of its time. Recommended on those terms.”

  • Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work by Dandicat, Edwidge set in: Haiti, USA – review by Marilyn
  • Essays by Danticat, including her Toni Morrison lecture, explore her life and the painful history and culture of Haiti.

  • Crude by Shah, Sonia set in: Global – review by Eva
  • Crude [combines] credibility and readability into a powerful portrait of the oil industry and its impact. I should have expected nothing less from Shah, whose elegant prose and insightful analysis I’d already encountered and loved in her two other books.

  • Dead Aid by Moyo, Dambisa set in: Africa – review by Teresa
  • primarily readable but a bit difficult for the layman to grasp and really understand. still makes excellent points.

  • Dear First Love by Valdés, Zoé set in: Cuba – review by Teresa
  • Valdés weaves this story about the pull towards each other the rational urban Danae and the mystical embedded-in-the-landscape Tierra feel. Valdés is often crude and the story often violent and full of tragedy and yet there’s a strange beauty about it all.

  • Discretion by Nunez, Elizabeth set in: USA, unnamed Western African country – review by Eva
  • Like every Nunez novel I’ve read, Discretion works on multiple levels simultaneously, and leads to a rich and satisfying reading experience.

  • Dragon Ladies: Asian American Feminists Breathe Fire by Shah, Sonia (editor) set in: United States (mostly) – review by Melissa
  • A collection of essays and interviews featuring Asian American feminists, as well as activists who reject the feminist label but are involved in social justice and women’s rights-related movements.

  • Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood by Mernissi, Fatima set in: Morocco – review by writereaderly
  • “Fatima Mernissi, now a sociologist and academic in Rabat, was brought up in a domestic harem (aka extended family under one roof, inc. polygamy) in Fez, Morocco in the 1940s. This memoir recounts the lives and experiences mostly of the women she lived with, and explores the diversity of harems that still existed in Morocco at that time. Simply written but lovely (lovelily?), Mernissi’s stories brim with the hanan or boundless tenderness which she so admires, and give a gently personal introduction to a misunderstood concept. Recommended.

    PS After debating with myself and Google images, I have classified this title as part of the Global Women of Colour Challenge. I don’t know if Mernissi would count herself as a woman of colour, though.”

  • Efuru by Nwapa, Flora set in: Nigeria – review by Marilyn
  • Story of a strong, good, and beautiful Igbo woman rising above her difficulties. Told from within the circle of women’s lives.

  • Eva Luna by Allende, Isabel set in: Chile – review by Eva
  • This is straight-up magical realism at its best, with crazy characters getting into unlikely scenarios all tied together with a narrative voice whose storytelling ability is simply marvelous.

  • Evening is the Whole Day by Samrasan, Preeta.. set in: Malaysia – review by Marilyn
  • An intricate and beautiful novel about a family of Indian descent in post-colonial Malaysia; a family, like their country, full of secrets, anger and long-held resentments.

  • Factory Girls by Chang, leslie set in: China – review by Aarti
  • Very, very informative. Features strong women who will do almost anything to succeed.

  • Far and Beyon’ by Dow, Unity set in: Botswana – review by Biblioglobal
  • This novel tells the story of a family in a Botswanan village in the late 1990’s. It focuses on the interactions between traditional and modern/European culture.

  • Far and Beyon’ by Dow, Unity set in: Botswana – review by Marilyn
  • A perceptive book by a Botswanan author about a family living in a village caught between traditional and modern values and understanding.

  • Fault Lines by Alexander, Meena set in: India, Sudan, USA – review by Marilyn
  • A richly descriptive memoir of growing up in southwest India and Sudan and then coming to the United States by an articulate women, sensitive to the tensions between her present and her past.

  • Fish Hair Woman by Bobis, Merlinda set in: Philipines – review by Marilyn
  • “An exquisite novel set in the Philippines, by a Filipina author, and one of the best books I have read all year.

    Estrella is the fish-hair woman, the one with twelve-meter hair who trawls for bodies in the river when pro-government forces and guerillas sweep through the village. She is the one who remembers and suffers. Her story and those around her are central to this unique book, but the stories that are woven here are about much more. About life and death, of course. And politics and war in the Philippines. About parents and children and siblings. About the past and whether or not we can ever escape it. About history and memory. About a fascinating group of characters. And about finding joy in the face of pain.”

  • Fish-Hair Woman by Bobis, Merlinda set in: Philippines – review by writereaderly
  • This is an excellent novel; in fact, the best conflict-set novel I’ve read. (Thanks to the blog-reader who recommended it). Set in the Philippines and exploring the civil and political conflict of the 1970s-1990s, it is complex, nuanced and beautiful. More interestingly, it deliberately evades easy answers and is brutal towards well-intentioned white liberals, local tyrants, shallow politicians and media; it prefers to spell out the complexities of faith and love and humanity that are sometimes fought over with AK-47s and hand-grenades. It is a novel about memory and forgetting – who ought to, how and why one would or should – in the face of conflict and community suffering and loss. The plotting focuses on the forced disappearances in the town of Iraya, where dozens of bodies are pulled from the local river, victims of either guerrilla, paramilitary or military forces. The characters are lost Australian journalists, corrupt political warlords, small-town gravediggers and midwives, drug-addicted children of victims, their stories told in a complicated but satisfying interesting of stories told as magic realism, journalism, travel-horror, political thriller, village tragedy, hideous farce. A truly rich book, I’m so glad to have read it and to now have Bobis on my radar.

  • Forget Sorrow by Yang, Belle set in: China, US, Japan – review by Olduvai
  • A graphic novel/memoir of the story of Yang’s father’s family in China during the Second World War and struggling to overcome poverty, famine, and Communist oppression

  • Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Dumas, Firoozeh set in: US, Iran – review by Olduvai
  • Firoozeh Dumas’ collection of stories about her family is not just funny but also an interesting commentary about adjusting to life in the US, during an especially hard for Iranians – the hostage crisis and the revolution.

  • Gathering of Waters by McFadden, Bernice set in: Mississippi, USA – review by Marilyn
  • “A compelling African American novel mixing fantasy and historical realities.

    Evil exists, as the African Americans living in Money, Mississippi, know all too well. But so do goodness and love, bringing life joy as well as pain, as Bernice McFadden shows readers in Gathering of the Waters.”

  • Ghana Must Go by Selasi, Taiye set in: USA, Ghana – review by Marilyn
  • The most exquisite book I have read this year; a beautiful, lyrical novel about a family of African migrants striving for success and never being successful enough.

  • Ghost Bride by Choo, Yangsze set in: chinese in Malaysia – review by Marilyn
  • An intriguing fantasy about a young Chinese Malaysian woman of the 1890s pursued by ghosts and exploring the afterworld of Chinese folktales.

  • Happy Endings: Lesbian Writers Talk About Their Lives and Work by Brandt, Kate set in: USA – review by writereaderly
  • What a fabulous book: interviews with dyke writers, publishers, mavens, archivists and booksellers, conducted in the early 1990s, to catalogue the lesbian passion for publishing in the USA. Just great. All these women so passionate about words, books and their community, I loved them all – especially the book publishers, of course, since that’s my great wordy love. Among those interviewed were Asian, Black, Chicana and Hispanic women, and women from different classes, cultural backgrounds, political identities and historical eras, quite a few of whom were on my radar already.

  • Home by Behrendt, Larissa set in: Australia – review by writereaderly
  • I’d thought this was a reread, but I was feeling particularly guilt-ridden/animated by the Global Women of Colour Challenge so I grabbed it again from the library’s abandonment shelves. It came back to me as I read: (clearly autobiographical) contemporary indigenous woman lawyer researching her past, as a pretext for historical fiction on the dispossession of Australian Aboriginals. An axe to grind, indeed, as Behrendt doesn’t fail to implement in the extremely painful framing-story intro (so badly written! so heavy handed! so infuriating!). Thankfully for all concerned, including the unfortunate audience to my reading experience, the body of the book is better written, and Behrendt learnt the valuable maxim “Don’t tell, show.” The stories of Garibooli’s kidnapping from her family in the early 1900s, and the trajectories of her children and grandchildren, are diverse, well-informed and emotive without being overly emotional. A recommended book, although I do suspect it was such a successful prize-winner because of a wee bit of white-man guilt. Never mind, at least the awards got more people to read this novel. Enjoy.

  • Infinity in the Palm of Her Hand by Belli, Gioconda set in: Eden – review by Teresa
  • “I recommend this book for those who do enjoy retellings of familiar stories. This creation of complex characters who are not stereotypes in pitch perfect language”h

  • Kayang and Me by Scott, Kim, and Hazel Brown set in: Australia – review by Marilyn
  • A superb history and memoir written as a dialogue between an Australian Indigenous elder and a prize-winning novelist who share some of the same ancestors. A history of the Noongar and a discussion of issues around who should tell their history and how.

  • Kick the Tin by Kartinyeri set in: Australia – review by Teresa
  • an emotion filled memoir of injustice and mental illness

  • Late for Tea at the Dee Palace by Chalabi, Tamara set in: Iraq, Lebanon, UK – review by Olduvai
  • This book is Iraqi history seen through the eyes of the Chalabi family, who have pretty much seen it all – royalty, politicking, intrigue, military coups, exile. But throughout all of that, their love for Iraq is unshakable.

  • let the Dead Lie by Nunn, Malla set in: South Africa – review by Marilyn
  • Another of Nunn’s fine mystery novels set in South Africa in the 1950s and revealing the confusion and complexities of apartheid.

  • Looking for Palestine: Growing up Confused in an Arab-American Family by Said, Najla set in: US, Palestine, Lebenon – review by Marilyn
  • In her insightful memoir, the daughter of a Edward Said, the professor at Columbia University who helped shape post-colonial scholarship, and his Lebanese wife, tells how she rejected her identity as an Arab as a child and how she came to claim it as she matured.

  • Lovers in the Time of Indifference by Guo, Xiaolu set in: China – review by Teresa
  • set in the modern world, these short&concise stories are about people from all over china but sometimes verge on the opaque

  • Lyrics Alley by Leila Aboulela. set in: Sudan, Eqypt, England – review by Marilyn
  • A brilliant, bittersweet novel about a large Sudanese family, divided over old values and new ones, and facing an accident of one of its sons that upsets its delicate balance.

  • Making Peace with Earth by Shiva, Vandana set in: India, Global – review by Marilyn
  • Eloquent and radical analysis of environmental problems as caused by corporate greed.

  • Malinche by Esquivel, Laura set in: Mexico – review by Olduvai
  • Historical fiction featuring the almost mythical character of Malinalli, a Nahua slave turned interpreter turned lover of Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes, who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire.

  • Malinche by Esquival, Laura set in: Mexico – review by Marilyn
  • Mythic retelling of the woman who was Cortez’s translator and lover during the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Esquivel views her positively as the “mother” of the new, mixed-race, the mestizos. The book is full of Malinche’s spirituality. Don’t expect to like it unless you like that approach. See Olduvai’s review above for a less favorable account of the book.

  • Map of Love by Soueif, Ahdaf set in: Egypt – review by Teresa
  • “you get a sense of these histories and realities that place Egypt securely into the modern world couched within an intriguing plot full of individuals who break the mold and a beautiful ease of language.”

  • Maya’s Notebook by Allende, Isabel set in: Chile, USA – review by Olduvai
  • Maya’s Notebook was one of my favourite reads of April – spanning Berkeley, Las Vegas, Oregon, Chile, well-stocked with unconventional characters, full of life, full of heart.

  • Minaret by Aboulela, Leila set in: Sudan, England – review by Marilyn
  • A moving, well-written novel about a young, westernized woman from Sudan who is exiled after a coup and works as a maid in London. The Muslim faith and community come to sustain her.

  • Moebius Trip by Thadani, Gita. set in: India – review by Marilyn
  • A woman’s outer and inner journeys through India’s geography, history, religions, mythology, languages, and archeology in search of early images of the divine female as well as new ways of understanding the world.

  • Moebius Trip by Thadani, Giti set in: India – review by Niranjana
  • Fascinating if not wholly convincing study of representations of female divinity in ancient Indian culture.

  • Mullumbimby by Lucashenko, Melissa set in: Australia – review by writereaderly
  • Again, this looked like the lightest and most entertaining book on my TBR pile, and it turned out to be quite the surprise. Slap my wrist for doubting a local writer. Lucashenko’s novel is unabashedly the Northern Rivers made print, told by politicised and creative Bundjalung woman. There’s the quirky characters, dreaded and not; the references to BluesFest and the Writers’ Festival and Mardi Grass and Sangsurya; the evocation of the river at Bruns and Wollumbin and Mount Chincogan; the abundant queers (I love it when a dyke’s just called a dyke); the rain, the rainforest, the beach… Such a pleasure to read this place rendered with such smart-arsey love. The multifaceted examination of indigenous rights is smart-thinking and smartly plotted, the narrative trips along, the characters are human, the language vernacular and gritty, and the book an accessible, informed, good-timer. Well recommended.

  • Nervous Condition by Nervous Condition, by Dangarembga, Tsitsi . set in: Rhodesia – review by Marilyn
  • An unusually perceptive novel explores the gains and losses of education and “westernization” for a teenage Rhodesian girl.

  • Out by Kirino, Natsuo set in: Japan – review by MJ
  • Crime fiction set in a contemporary working-class Japanese neighborhood. Warning: quite graphic.

  • Paint Me Black by Henty-Gebert, Claire set in: Northern Territory, Australia – review by Yvonne Perkins
  • “Claire Henty-Gebert has an amazing story to tell. She was taken from her Aboriginal mother at a young age, caught up in the government policy that was then ruling, to remove lighter-skinned Aboriginal families from their families and bring them up to ‘assimilate’ into white society. Just days before the attack on Pearl Harbour she and other Aboriginal children were moved from central Australia to an island off the north coast of Australia. Then the Japanese bombed Darwin…

    Claire Henty-Gebert has lived a full life in the Northern Territory. In this small memoir she shares her experiences of World War II and cyclone Tracy as well as ordinary life for an Aboriginal woman who was part of Australia’s ‘Stolen Generations’. Yet even the ordinary is extraordinary to non-Aboriginal Australians.”

  • Paris Dreaming by Heiss, Anita set in: Australia – review by Whispering Gums
  • Did I enjoy it? Yes, but not so much as a piece of literature because my reading interests lie elsewhere, but as a work written by a savvy writer with a political purpose. This purpose is not simply to show that young, urban, professional indigenous Australians exist but, as she also said in her address, to create the sort of world she’d like to live in, a world where indigenous Australians are an accepted and respected part of Australian society, not problems and not invisible.

  • Please Look After Mother by Shin, Kyung-Sook set in: South Korea – review by Teresa
  • “I can see this being too sentimental or melodramatic for some but there was just enough plot and I got drawn so far into the family that I forgave it. Instead, I just gave my mother a call just to make sure she didn’t get lost.”

  • Purple Hibiscus by Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi set in: Nigeria – review by Melissa
  • Kambali is a 15-year-old girl growing up under the harsh rule of her abusive father. A brief stay at her aunt’s house shows her just how different life could be, but a military coup soon shatters her peaceful environment.

  • Purple Threads by Leane, Jeanine set in: Australia – review by Jessica White
  • A sweet and gentle story told from the point of view of Sunny, an Indigenous girl raised by her Aunties.

  • Push by Sapphire set in: USA – review by Teresa
  • there are other better books to read about life in “the ghetto”

  • Real World by Kirino, Natsuo set in: Japan – review by Olduvai
  • Real World is less about the murder than the insight into the life of Japanese teenagers, trying to make their own path in this loud, brash, uncertain world

  • Red Scarf Girl by Jiang, Ji-li set in: China – review by Olduvai
  • Twelve-year-old Ji-li’s future is all bright and shiny, but with the Cultural Revolution, her late grandfather’s landlord status brings scorn, taunts, and constant fear. This memoir offers a young girl’s view of life during the Cultural Revolution in China

  • Revenge by Ogawa, Yoko set in: Japan – review by Olduvai
  • This collection of stories prods at you, like that dream that isn’t quite a nightmare yet you can’t shake it in the morning when you wake up.

  • Sister of my Heart by Divakaruni, Chitra Banerjee set in: India – review by Marilyn
  • A wise and beautiful novel in which two young women, raised “like sisters” in Calcutta, find that marriages and pregnancies call on them to make difficult choices between competing loves.

  • Sky Burial: An epic love story of Tibet by Xue, Xinran set in: Tibet – review by Olduvai
  • This is probably one of the most heartbreaking stories I have ever read. It is a remarkable, fascinating read, a love story of Tibet and its people.

  • Snakes and Ladders by Mehta, Gita set in: India – review by Eva
  • Somehow, although she writes of ‘heavy’ topics in a powerful way, the essays have a lightness to them that is all too often missing from social science books. This is essay writing at its best, and I highly recommend it to anyone who’s at all intrigued by my post!

  • Summer Visit by Kefala, Antigone set in: Australia, Greece – review by writereaderly
  • Australian poet, three very brief “novellas” as one of her multiple fictional offerings. The whole book was only 122pp, but even that seemed too long. Remotely fictional and uninteresting in any case.

  • The Alley of Love and Yellow Jasmines by Aghdashloo, Shohreh set in: Tehran, London, Hollywood – review by Melissa
  • Aghdashloo was the first Iranian to be nominated for an Academy Award (for House of Sand and Fog). She writes about her childhood, becoming an actress in Iran, then having to leave her country and start all over again when the Islamic Revolution began.

  • The Best of All Possible Worlds by Lord, Karen set in: Imaginary – review by Marilyn
  • A superb speculative novel about humans with different genetic make-up and culture learning about each other and finding ways to cooperate.

  • The Blood of Flowers by Amirrezvani Anita set in: Persia – review by Niranjana (Brown Paper)
  • Read this one for the splendor that was Persia, for the wondrous fables nested within the narrative, for an appealing protagonist who makes plenty of mistakes but never repeats them, for thoughtful explorations into the knotty relationship between desire and love, for the profound questions raised about the purpose and duty of art, and oh, for a vivid, juicy, richly-detailed read that reminds you just how enthralling a good story can be.

  • The Bone People by Hulme, Keri set in: New Zealand – review by writereaderly
  • This book was frankly annoying after a while. Quirky lost-soul Kerewin Holmes (remind anyone of the author’s name?) meets Joseph, Maori adoptive father of mute, mystery lost-boy Simon P. Gillayley. The three bond. Many beatings occur. Much Maori soul-work is done. A surfeit of splendid convoluted language is used. Love is found and held in the tricephalous being. Why oh why did it go on for so long?

  • The Cave of the Yellow Dog by Davaa, Byambasure & Reisch, Lisa set in: Mongolia – review by WriteReaderly
  • Written to accompany the film of the same name, The Cave of the Yellow Dog shows a few days in the life of the Batchuluun family from the steppes of Mongolia. The film was made by Mongolian woman filmmaker, Byambasuren Davaa, with German funding and assistance, and the stills included in the book are both lovely and informative. As a book, the narrative is a bit thin, but it’s easy to imagine that grand cinescapes must have filled those gaps onscreen. A good and picturesque taster of ger living and traditions. Recommended.

  • The heaven I swallowed by Hennessy, Rachel set in: Australia – review by Whispering Gums
  • Compassionate but clear-eyed novel about a “perpetrator” of the Stolen Generation, written by the grand-daughter of a stolen child.

  • The House on Mango Street by Cisneros, Sandra set in: USA Hispanic – review by Marilyn
  • Short pieces narrated by a girl approaching adolescence about the people and events in the Hispanic neighborhood where she lives. Incredibly sensitive and lyrical.

  • The Housekeeper and the Professor by OGAWA, Yoko set in: Japan – review by writereaderly
  • Contemporary Japanese novel. A housekeeper is to attend to a mathematics professor whose brain damage leaves him an 80-minute span of memory. But it’s so sweet, ‘cos the housekeeper and her son can bond with him over maths problems! Ergh. Initially kind-of-but-not-quite novel (see Reminds me, below), but then just boring to one not enchanted by mathematical elegance. Abandoned not even half-way through. Sigh. I thought I’d make some inroads on the Global Women of Colour Challenge, but not with this title I won’t.

  • The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf by Kwaymullina, Ambelin set in: Australia – review by Heidi Reads
  • This is utterly brilliant dystopian spec fic. There’s just enough world building to get me wanting so much more about this post-Reckoning world. The novel is structured in three almost-perfect acts, and despite being marketed as part of a series, works absolutely as a stand-alone book.

  • The Joys of Motherhood by EMECHETA, Buchi set in: Nigeria – review by writereaderly
  • Nigerian-born Emecheta moved to the UK in her early twenties and made a living as a novelist. This book, with its ironic if not scathing title, tells the marriage and motherhood woes of Nnu Ego, daughter to a chief and wife to a washerman in the newly burgeoning city of Lagos. Set between (about) the 1920s-1940s, the characters play out the struggles associated with the modernisation of Nigeria under British colonial rule, and particularly looks at how women were impacted by changing societal norms. An absorbing read, gritty, rich with real-life details that make it so interesting to the non-Nigerian. Highly recommended.

  • The Last Brother by Appanah, Nathacha set in: Mauritius – review by Teresa
  • not read for the challenge but definitely recommended for people looking for suggestions

  • The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Shoneyin, Lola set in: Nigeria – review by Teresa
  • This is also a fairly easy way to learn a bit about Nigerian polygamist culture-an enjoyable glimpse into the difficulties of strong personalities all cohabiting.

  • The Seven Sisters of the Pleiades by Andrews, Munya set in: Australia, New Zealand, Japan, USA – review by writereaderly
  • This is a difficult book to review. I had seen this book on Spinifex’s shelves years ago and had it on my mental TBR shelf, so I selected it when my blog-name was drawn out of the GWC hat a couple of months ago. Written by a woman from Australia’s Western Deserts (the Kimberley), it is a comparison of stellar lore and behaviours from various global cultures (Australian indigenous, Ainu Japanese, Maori and Pacific Islander, Native North American, etc.) as they relate to myths, astronomy, theosophy, and the beginnings of the world. …

  • The Song of Everlasting Sorrow by Wang, Anyi set in: China (Shanghai) – review by Olduvai
  • Set in post-World War II Shanghai, The Song of Everlasting Sorrow is a life portrait of Wang Qiyao, a girl of the working-class neighbourhoods, and a story of Shanghai from the 1940s to the 1980s.

  • The Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki set in: Japan – review by writereaderly
  • One that ticks the boxes of KAM’s List and the Global Women of Colour Challenge, reputedly the world’s first novel, written by a lady-in-waiting to the Japanese Imperial Court in the 9th or 10th century. Lady Murasaki (a pen name) wrote this ten-volume work – the first is plenty for me – with the glorious, beautiful, poetic, musical Prince Genji as the hero. Characters are highly confusing and the plot is desperately slim, focussing only on late-adolescent Genji’s romantic trysts with everyone from his father the Emperor’s wife to an elderly waiting maid to slum dwelling dream lovers to ten-year-old girls he kidnaps so they can marry when she’s old enough. U-huh. Anyhoo, the reason this book was interesting was the rites and rituals and social performances which were standard court fare in mediaeval Japan. Most fascinating was the recital and writing of poems – couplets, acrostics – as a prime means of communication, either when flirting with a potential lover (that’s most of the time, if this novel’s anything to go by), and the evaluation of people’s worth according to the calibre of their handwriting and the wit of their poetry. Two details I just loved. Has its historic value, and isn’t all terribly written, Genji is just a shallow twat and 189pp of his romances is a bit thin.

  • The Tongue’s Blood Does Not Run Dry by Djebar, Assia set in: Algeria, France – review by Teresa
  • Women are the main truth of this book-they are the glue that brings these stories together.

  • The Ventriloquist’s Tale by Melville, Pauline set in: Guyana – review by Marilyn
  • A superb and strange novel by an Indigenous woman about several generations of a family living on the southern savannas of Guyana.

  • They Who Do Not Grieve by FIGIEL, Sia set in: Samoa, USA, New Zealand – review by writereaderly
  • My second Samoan novel, tracing the women descendants of two tattooed best friends, and their life paths in traditional Samoa, America and “Giu Sila” (New Zealand). Well written, in a rich array of voices from diverse worlds, it is brutal, powerful and poetic. Well recommended.

  • Three Strong Women by Ndiaye, Marie set in: Senegal – review by Olduvai
  • It is a painful, bleak read, full of suffering, yet these women still manage to hold onto their sense of humanity. Their stories offer just the slightest of a hint of redemption.

  • Thursday Night Widows by Piñeiro, Claudia set in: Argentina – review by mongoosenamedt
  • This book is a thorough, almost dissecting, portrait of everything that a middle class wants, desires, and loses. Really not to be missed.

  • Unpolished Gem by Pung, Alice set in: Cambodia, Australia – review by Marilyn
  • A beautifully written and engaging memoir about a Cambodian Australian woman, her mother and her grandmother.

  • When Rain Clouds Gather by Head, Bessie set in: Botswana – review by Marilyn
  • A wise and wonderful novel by a classic South African writer about an insular man who escapes to Botswana and joins a drought-stricken farming community there as a refugee.

  • Wingshooters by Revoyr, Nina. set in: USA – review by Marilyn
  • A perceptive novel about the impact of racial hatred in a rural Wisconsin town in the mid-1970s. A Japanese American girl sympathizes with the African American couple who come to the town and are harassed by residents. A moving account of racism.

  • Women with Big Eyes by Mastretta, Ángeles set in: Mexico – review by Biblioglobal
  • Women with Big Eyes consists of brief stories about 39 ‘aunts’, based on relatives and friends of Mastretta.While most of the aunts’ lives fit within relatively traditional gender roles, they are not passive by any means.

  • Zeina by El Saadawi, Nawal set in: Egypt – review by olduvai
  • Bodour, a distinguished literary critic and university professor, carries with her a dark secret. As a young university student, she fell in love with a political activist and gave birth to an illegitimate daughter, Zeina, whom she abandoned on the streets of Cairo.


  1. Wow, what a lovely, eclectic collection Marilyn … you’ve done a great thing setting this up. BTW I heard Jeanine Leane talk at the weekend conference I’ve just attended. A powerful speaker. It’s great seeing strong women of colour having a voice and not being afraid to use it!

  2. A great collection 🙂

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