GLOBAL WOMEN OF COLOR 2014

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GLOBAL WOMEN OF COLOR NEWS

 

I have decided not to continue sponsoring this website.  I will keep it up because I believe it is a useful resource for people wanting to know about books written by global women of color, but I will not add to it.

I will continue to read these important books and review them on my personal blog, Me, you and Books at mdbrady. wordpress.com.  I will label them as GLOBAL WOMEN OF COLOR so that you can find them easily by searching for that category.  My lists of favorite books and books read for challenges will also include many of them.

Thanks to all of you who have contributed to this site.

Publishers of Indian Women Writers

 

http://www.zubaanbooks.com

 

Zubaan is an independent non-profit publishing house. It grew out of India’s first Feminist publishing house, Kali for Women. Founded by Urvashi Butalia, who was co-founder of Kali for Women, Zubaan was set up to specifically continue Kali’s work. Zubaan, has inherited half the backlist of Kali so that reprints of many backlist titles are assured.  The word ‘Zubaan’ comes from Hindustani and means, literally, tongue, but it has many other meanings, such as voice, language, speech and dialect.

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I just discovered this feminist press in New Delhi and I am excited about the books they publish.  Their books include novels and short stories, autobiographies, nonfiction and scholarly research and children’s books.  They also republish classic writing by Indian women.

They define themselves as a feminist press and have a broad understanding of what this feminist perspective means. To them, and to me, feminism is a worldview rather than a label to be attached or a cause to be supported. They explicitly refuse to publish direct endorsements of globalization, violence, militarism or pornography. They publish individuals who do not necessarily consider themselves feminists in a personal sense whose work is woman-centered. The result is a wide range of books that focus on women, including some scholarly research of little studied groups.

Elen at southasiabookblog recently posted the information that Zabaan books would be available as ebooks; making them much easier for those of us not in India to acquire.  When I went to their site, I didn’t see that this has happened.  I was still impressed by the books they publish, and grateful to Elen for telling me about the press. Looking over the titles I am eager to read some of their books
Here are a sampling of ones that I found tempting:

 

 

 

 

Saudi Women Writers

Seven Saudi Women Writers in Translation,  by mlynxqualey

The appearance of a new series called, “Alice in Arabia,” on a major American TV network lead mlynxqualey, to address an ongoing issue about ethnic literature on her blog, Arab Literature (in English).

Perhaps the most cringe-worthy part of ABC Family’s announcement was its creator’s apparent assertion that she had written the show not just for the fame and fortune (a motive we can all understand), but “to give Arabs and Muslims a voice on American TV.”

To state the obvious, suggesting that a military cryptologist (or university Arabist, or Arabic-speaking social worker, or itinerant blogger) can “give Arabs and Muslims a voice” certainly suggests that these aforementioned Arabs and Muslims cannot quite make intelligible sounds on their own.

 Criticizing “Alice in Arabia” is not to say that non-Arabs and non-Muslims shouldn’t write Muslims and Arabs into their fictions.  Our worlds are inextricably entangled, and thus we should show up in one another’s imaginations.

Leaving others to rehash the old arguments, Qualey’s response was to list writings by Saudi women that have been translated into English and available to a range of readers.  Some excerpts of their writing can be found free online.

 Go to her article here.

 Check out her suggestions:

Fawzia Abu Khaled (1959 – present). Although poetry probably can’t be turned into an ABC Family show, poems by the remarkable Abu Khaled — lauded by Adonis, among others — can nonetheless be found in Mothers and Daughters in Arab Women’s Literature and in Gathering the Tide.

Dr. Aisha Al Mana and Dr. Hissa Al Sheikh. Their book, which documents the first demonstration to lift the ban on Saudi women driving on November 6th, 1990, is being translated by Saudi (female) blogger Eman al-Nafjan, who has posted an excerpt on her blog.

Eman al-Nafjan, who blogs in English at saudiwoman.me, is another Saudi woman writer worth reading. Perhaps she could also do a screenplay.

Badriyah al-Bishr (1967-present). Al-Bishr’s latest novel, Love Stories on al-Aisha Street, was longlisted for the 2014 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. One of her short stories is in Voices of Change: Short Stories by Saudi Arabian Women Writers, along with work by Jamilah Fatani, Najat Khayyat, Jamilah Fatani, Rajaa Alem, and others.

Leila al-Johani (1969-present). Critic Fakri Saleh writes that “Two female Saudi writers took the responsibility to experiment with style – Rajaa Alem and Laila Al-Johani.” Read an excerpt from her novel Jahiliyatrans. Piers Amodia. The full novel is forthcoming, in translation, from BQFP.

Rajaa Alem (1970-present). Alem has co-translated two of her novels (Fatima: A Novel of Arabia and My Thousand & One Nights: A Novel of Mecca) with Tom McDonough. Her International Prize for Arabic Fiction-winning novel The Dove’s Necklace, trans. Adam Talib and Katherine Halls, should be forthcoming any moment now from Duckworth.

Rajaa Al-Sanea (1981-present) Al-Sanea’s only novel, Girls of Riyadh, published in Arabic in 2005 and English in 2007 (somewhat controversially, because of translation issues), has been extremely popular and has been credited with starting a new wave of Saudi girl-lit. No excerpt from Girls of Riyadh immediately apparent online, just a few quotes on Goodreads. Actually, now that I think of it, perhaps Girls of Riyadh could lend itself to an ABC Family TV show….

mlynxqualey | March 22, 2014 at 6:

MY FAVORITE FANTASY AND SPECULATIVE FICTION BY GLOBAL WOMEN OF COLOR.

Yesterday I saw a tweet requesting suggestions for fantasy books by people of color. When I couldn’t limit myself to a tweet, I decided to post my recommendations here.

 Ghost Bride, by Yangsze Choo

Swan Book and Carpentaria, by Alexis Wright

The Best of All Possible Worlds, by Karen Lord.

Women without Men, by Shahrnush  Parsipur

Zahrah the Windseeker, by Nnedi Okorafor.

Although this is a blog about Global Women, I have to also include Grass Growing, Water Running by Thomas King.

Other women of color who regularly write fantasies and speculative fiction.

Isabel Alende

Nalo Hopkinson

Octavia Butler

 In addition, I wrote a blog about how fantasy by people of color can be unique.  Read it here.

For the last two years Aarti has hosted A More Diverse Universe, a time for reading and sharing such books. You can find her blog here.  She will have other suggestions.

Readers:  What other suggestions can you add?

Reading African Women Writers, 2014.

Reading African Women Writers, 2014.

Many bloggers have been important in leading me to books by African women. Kinna @ KinnaReads is the blogger I rely on most.  She is particularly knowledgeable about African literature.  Last month she offered a list of 12 books which she suggests as a syllabus for a hypothetical university course titled Introduction to African Women Writers All the books are fiction,  the list is regionally representative, and provides a good breadth of themes.

1.    Distant View of a Minaret, by Alifa Rifaat

2.    Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits by Laila Lalami

3.    July’s People by Nadine Gordimer

4.    Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga

5.    No Sweetness Here and Other Stories by Ama Ata Aidoo

6.    On Black Sisters Street by Chika Unigwe

7.    Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie

8.    So Long a Letter by Mariama Ba

9.    The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta

10.The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna

11.Tropical Fish: Tales from Entebbe by Doreen Baingana

12.Women of Algiers in Their Apartment by Assia Djebar

I have read and reviewed half of them in the past two years. Some of them are favorites of mine, too. The links are to my reviews.  I also read and loved The Joys of Motherhood years ago. Recently I did read and review another of Emechata’s books, The Bride Price, as well as write a response to those who consider it feminist.  I plan to read the books that I haven’t read for her Africa Reads 2014 Challenge if I can get copies of them.

From the perspective of a white American and a relative newcomer to African women writers, I’d like to supplement Kinna’s list with a couple of additional suggestions.

1.    Half a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Adichie.  A story taking place in the Biafra war for independence and one of the best books I have read about women in civil war.

2.    Americanah, by Chimamanda Adichie.   A international story of a Nigerian woman who lives for a time in the USA.   Americans should read this description of race in our country.

3.    Ghana Must Go, by Taiye Selasi.  Another international novel, a lyrical story about a family of African migrants striving for success and never being successful enough.  Appropriate for all of us who strive.

More suggestions for Global Women of Color

More Suggestions for Global Women of Color

Since I posted the new “Booklists and Reviews” page last week, others have offered, or I have found, some extremely useful lists.  I will add these to that page.  Do keep the suggestions coming.

Last year for GWC Teresa @ Reading like I’m feasting created a booklist of Latin American Women Writers available in English.

Another fine source for African American women is Melissa Harris Perry’s Black Feminist Syllabus.

South Asian Women’s Network also has an extensive list of South Asian Women Writers. 

I have also had suggestions for particular books that individuals recommend.

Any of Chitra Divakaruni’s books. India
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.
Someone Else’s Garden by Dipika Rai.
We Need New Names, by No Violet Bulawayo. Africa
Carpentaria, by Alexis Wright.  Australian Indigenous
My Place, by Sally Morgan. Australian Indigenous
Americanah, by Adichie.  Nigeria and USA
The Bone People, by Keri Hulme. New Zealand Indigenous
Dogside Story, by Patricia Grace. New Zealand Indigenous

Recreating Global Women of Color, 2014

The recent wave of talk about reading books written by women convinced me to expand Global Women of Color instead of reducing it.  I want it to become a general source that brings together information about this important group of writers.  I  have restructured the site and added to it.  Here are the two new pages.

PARTICIPATE: WAYS TO TAKE PART IN GLOBAL WOMEN OF COLOR, 2014

Sign up to follow GWC.

Start browsing the books suggested on the GWC page for Book Lists and Reviews.  Feel free to comment on the lists and reviews of others.

Read one or more books by Global Women of Color.

If you read some books by Global Women of Color, please, list your reviews here.

I am also creating a Blogroll  so that people who care about reading books by Global Women of Color can get in touch with each other.  If you want to be included, leave a comment here with your blog address.

If you like Challenges,  set up your own involving Global Women of Color.  I hope some of you would read and review books by women from of a particular region or country.   Share what you plan to do in a comment.

As this site grows, I would like to create pages for Books from/about Different Places.  I will need some help, especially for areas under-represented in the GWC posts such as Canada and the Far East.   For now, add suggestions as comments and I will assemble pages.

However you choose to participate, feel free to take a GWC Button for your own blog.

Whatever your choices, I hope you will read and enjoy some of the wonderful books by the women whose books are featured here.

BOOK LISTS AND REVIEWS

Lists of Suggested books

Year of Reading South Asian Women

Year of Reading Arab Women

Bibliglobal year of Reading (Global) Women

Marilyn Brady’s Reading Global Women of color

Suggestions from others. Links are to those I have read and reviewed.

Any of Chitra Divakaruni’s books. India
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.
Someone Else’s Garden by Dipika Rai.
We Need New Names, by No Violet Bulawayo. Africa
Carpentaria, by Alexis Wright.  Australian Indigenous
My Place, by Sally Morgan. Australian Indigenous
Americanah, by Adichie.  Nigeria and USA
The Bone People, by Keri Hulme. New Zealand Indigenous
Dogside Story, by Patricia Grace. New Zealand Indigenous

LISTS OF PAST GWC REVIEWS
2014 GWC Reviews Spreadsheet
This is where new reviews are assembled.  I will occasionally sort and post lists from here.

2013 GWC Reviews Final List
Books reviewed last year, listed alphabetically by title, along with authors, reviewers, and comments by reviewers.

2013 GWC Reviews Arranged Regionally
Books by location, as named by reviewers.  I plan to arrange these more systematically soon.

MDB 20112 Reviews
My reviews of books by Global Women of Color before I started this blog.

SOURCES which frequently review and suggest books by Global Women of Color.
Some are also useful sources of information about the authors themselves.

Belletrista: Celebrating Women Writers around the Globe.  A wonderful review journal about new and old books be women globally.  It seems to have stopped publishing, but its archives are full of reviews and suggestions of books that deserve our attention.

Voices from the Gap, created by the University of Minnesota English Department, is a website devoted to making available books and other resources by and about women writers of color worldwide.

Feminist presses like Spinifex, Inanna, Aunt Lute and Feminist Press have all made it a priority to publish books by women globally. Their catalogues are full of books by women of color.  If you cannot find them locally, you can order directly often getting ebooks which eliminate international shipping charges.

The Australian Women Writers  and South Asian Women Writers are both reading challenges listing books by women writers from those regions.

Since my own ability to buy books is limited, I often rely on cheap sources like Paperback Book Swap and Better World Books.   Both have surprising offering of used books by Global Women of Color.

BLOG ROLL:  Bloggers who often read and discuss books by Global Women of Color.  Check their categories and indexes for particular books, authors, and geographical locations.

Kinna Reads.  Kinna hosts a challenge about African books and offers helpful lists and suggestions.

A Striped Armchair Eva is a wise reader and reviewer who reads vociferously.

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog  Lisa has fine reviews of international books by an Australian woman.  Hosts an Indigenous Writing Week.

Biblioglobal.  A project to read books from every country often books by women.

Me, You and Books  Marilyn’s general book blog.

Reading Global Women of Color, 2014, My List of Suggested Books

Reading Global Women of Color, 2014

My List of Suggested Books

I am thrilled with the recent surge of interest in women writers in response to #readingwomen2014, but I am also a bit uneasy.  I fear that readers will only turn to books by white women, when so many books by women of color deserve to be read and enjoyed.  They can be an important step toward understanding women all over the globe.  So I have come up with my own list.  I tried to follow the book-a month format, but I couldn’t restrain myself.

My list only includes fictional books that I have read and reviewed.  (Links are to my reviews.)  It is honestly eclectic, but I have tried to provide breath and diversity rather than just name favorites.  Yet I realize what gaps there in my list and my reading.

PLEASE HELP ME FILL IN THE GAPS with lists or books you have read.  I plan to create a page on GLOBAL WOMEN OF COLOR but I need suggestions. You can suggest individual books or your own lists of recommendations.  I’d particularly love to have suggestions for “Reading African Women, 2014” or from the Far East or Latin America or any place whose women writers you know and love.

LOOK FOR MY GLOBAL WOMEN OF COLOR FOR MORE SUGGESTIONS

 AFRICA

Changes, by Ama Ata Aidoo.  An insightful novel from Ghana about what is changing and not changing as women entering professions face demands to sacrifice themselves for the sake of their husbands.  By one of the writers who has helped promote a women’s perspective on Africa.

Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. A moving novel about fear, loss, and survival in Biafra’s unsuccessful struggle for independence from Nigeria in the 1960s, by a leading Nigerian writer today.

 Ghana Must Go, by Taiye Selasi. A beautiful, lyrical novel about a family of African migrants striving for success and never being successful enough. Like Adichie’s fine Americanah, it is more internationally focused than early books.

 AUSTRALIA

The Swan Book, by Alexis Wright.    Another brilliant  speculative novel by a talented Indigenous Australian who writes about belonging and what it means, to Indigenous people and all of us, to have and to lose a homeland.

 SOUTH ASIA

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

 FAR EAST/SOUTHEAST ASIA

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

Please Look After Mother, by Kyung-Sook Shin An innovative novel about a Korean family’s memories and responses when the mother disappears.

FishHair Woman, by Merlinda Bobbis  A lyrical speculative novel about 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, and about finding joy in the face of pain.

 MIDDLE EAST

Women Without Men: A Novel of Modern Iran, by Shahrnush Parsipur. An exquisite fable by an Iranian woman combining the magic of Arabian Nights with the stories of five women who temporarily escape the rigid control of men to live together in a garden.

Persian Requiem, by Simin Daneshvar. A moving Iranian novel set during World War II and centered on a wife and mother struggling with competing loyalties. Written in 1969, it provides insight into the diversity and conflicts that have long existed in that country.

LATIN AMERICA

Prospero’s Daughter, by Elizabeth Nunez.  A Caribbean novel, modeled on Shakespeare’s play, exploring the impact of colonization on people’s relationships with each other. Set in Trinidad shortly before its independence.

 NORTH AMERICA

Cutting Season, by Attica Locke  A suspense-filled mystery, a tender account of mother-daughter relations, and a “meditation” on how we deal with our personal and societal past—an African American woman from Louisiana.

 Round House, by Louise Erdrich.  One of the most powerful of Erdrich’s novels about life on the Ojibwe reservation explores a teenage boy’s reaction to his mother’s vicious rape.

 Carmelo, by Sandra Cisneros.  A delightful novel about four generations of a Mexican American family, living in Chicago, Texas, and Mexico, a girl’s journey into womanhood and much more.

READING GLOBAL WOMEN OF COLOR, 2014

January 2014 has witnessed an exciting new set of blogs, challenges, twitters that relate to women’s writing and to Global Women of Color. More about my own reaction to all this activity to come. Here are some, old and new, for you to check out.

#readingwomen2014

With this hashtag, Joanna Walsh inspired an amazing number of tweets, blogs and articles in about women’s books. Her original list is available at her blog.

http://badaude.typepad.com/my_weblog/2014/01/readwomen2014-the-list.html

In response sixteen major magazines and blogs have published their own lists of favorite woman authors and their books. These had lots of suggestions to add to my own reading, but most were by USA/European authors. Her blog provides an index to them, as of January 23.

http://badaude.typepad.com/my_weblog/2014/01/readwomen2014-around-the-world.html

Follow the comments on these for even more recommendations. They are not sorted by region or ethnicity, but the sheer volume is evidence that Walsh struck a responsive chord.

Critical Flame

This online literary magazine has decided to devote a year, starting May 2014 to publishing articles about authors who are women or people of color. They seek articles and reviews as well as readers for this project.

http://criticalflame.org/

The Year of Reading Arab Women

M Lynx Qualey is a freelance writer at home in Cairo, Egypt, and the blogger who helped me find books by Arab women. She raises the obvious question of which women will we read?

Will it be, in the main, a celebration of English-language women’s voices? Of women at the center or the peripheries?

She offers a list of alternative; a book a month for the next year by an Arab woman.

http://arablit.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/the-year-of-reading-arab-women/

She also provides other useful lists and recommendations for this often ignored group of writers.

The Year of Reading South Asian Women

In 2012 Elen Turner completed a PhD at the Australian National University on contemporary Indian feminist publishing. Her larger interest is in South Asian women writers. She is an excellent person to compile a year of monthly reading. Her list includes a variety of nationalities and types of writing by women.

http://southasiabookblog.com/2014/01/24/year-of-reading-women

South Asian Women Writers Challenge

In addition to these lists, women in India are hosting a challenge for readers of books by South Asian women, complete with reading suggestions for those not knowledgeable about them.

http://southasianwomenwriters.wordpress.com/

Australian Women Writers Challenge

Starting in 2012, this very sucessfull challenge and blog has lead the way in encouraging the reading of women authors. They have a large file of reviews of books by Australian women as well as monthly summaries of the books in different categories. Jessica White summarizes and discusses books that deal with diversity, including books by Indigenous Australian writers. AWW has fostered a real interest in Indigenous writing.

http://australianwomenwriters.com/

http://australianwomenwriters.com/2014/01/24/2013-aww-challenge-wrap-up-diversity/

2013 GWC Reviews Arranged by Region

We had 148 reviews posted on Global Women of Color in 2013. They are listed below with reviewers’ comments and links to the full reviews. Thanks to all who posted their reviews here.

The GCW site will remain open for 2014 as a blog and reference point for reviews rather than a formal challenge. I am in process of updating the site. Do continue to post what you are reading.

Africa

Australia

China

Europe

Imaginary

Indo-China

India and Bangladesh

Japan

Mexico

Middle East

Philippines

South America and Carribean

USA

Global Women of Color Reviews 2013 Final List

We had 148 reviews posted on Global Women of Color in 2013.  They are listed below with reviewers’ comments and links to the full reviews.  Thanks to all who posted their reviews here.

 The GCW site will remain open for 2014 as a blog and reference point for reviews rather than a formal challenge.  I am in process of updating the site.  Do continue to post what you are reading.

This novel follows Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper as he investigates the death of an Afrikaner captain in 1952 in South Africa.

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 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 promising mystery series set in the Victorian era starring a female detective with a mysterious past

A diary washes up on the shore of an isolated island in British Columbia. Ruth, a writer, becomes obsessed with learning all she can about the diary’s author, a suicidal sixteen-year-old Japanese schoolgirl named Nao.

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.

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.

“Remembering how sorry I was when Half of a Yellow Sun was over, I spun out the ending of Americanah, reading only a chapter each day for the final week, to try to make it last. I still missed the characters afterwards. I still think of them weeks later.)

A delightful and insightful novel by a leading Nigerian woman writer about life and love in the U.S. and in Nigeria. As good as everyone else says it is.

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.

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.

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.

Aunty Lee is quite the character. She reminds me of Alexander McCall Smith’s Mma Precious Ramotswe of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, but with a greater focus on food.

Charming, funny graphic novel about 3 post-adolescent girls in 1970s Ivory Coast.

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

I wouldn’t say I enjoyed this book but I found parts of it most interesting. Hejaiej, Tunis born and bred, returns to her home city as a Western-trained ethnologist to study the Beldi women’s oral storytelling tradition and its cultural role. (The Beldi are the old-world rich, educated upperclass of the city of Tunis, proud of their culture and refinement.) Hejaiej got access to three mistress storytellers, recorded their performed stories – that’s the bit that readers really miss out on – then conducted an ethnographic analysis of the content, meaning, linguistics, audience, etc. The ~100pp analysis which introduces the book I found fascinating, but the stories (like most written folktales divorced from their true, oral ambiance) I found dull and repetitive – not to mention horrifying, what with all those long-suffering women doing the right thing and letting their husbands kill their children to test the women’s fortitude. Etc. Culturally interesting and terrible, probably particularly useful for researchers.

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.

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.

A gentle, often humorous memoir by a Turkish woman finding it difficult to continue as a writer when she becomes a mother.

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.

Another of Malla Nunn’s great mystery series set in South Africa under apartheid.

Another fine novel by a favorite author highlights the themes of parental care, romance, and a career in the life of a Caribbean-American women’s life. Elizabeth Nunez continues the story she began in Anna In Between. Like many women, Anna Sinclair is caught up caring for her aging parents, beginning a relationship with a man, and pursuing her goals as a respected publishing executive. In all of these, Anna’s options are shaped by the fact that she is in America as an immigrant from the Caribbean.

A lyrical novel about an African township in the 1940s by a Zimbabwe woman. A story of pain transformed into beauty.

“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.”

“Alexis Wright’s novel is a challenging work indeed. But, as readers turn its pages, its momentum swells. It is, like the cyclone, unstoppable. It wriggles beneath the reader’s skin and insists upon being read.”

Essays by Danticat, including her Toni Morrison lecture, explore her life and the painful history and culture of Haiti.

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.

A suspense-filled mystery, a tender account of mother-daughter relations, and a “meditation” on how we deal with our personal and societal past—all by an African American woman from Louisiana.

primarily readable but a bit difficult for the layman to grasp and really understand. still makes excellent points.

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.

Like every Nunez novel I’ve read, Discretion works on multiple levels simultaneously, and leads to a rich and satisfying reading experience.

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.

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.

“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.”

“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.”

Story of a strong, good, and beautiful Igbo woman rising above her difficulties. Told from within the circle of women’s lives.

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.

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.

Very, very informative. Features strong women who will do almost anything to succeed.

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.

A perceptive book by a Botswanan author about a family living in a village caught between traditional and modern values and understanding.

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.

A vivid memoir by an Indian author of her childhood and adolescence in Bombay’s Parsi community.

“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.”

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.

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

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.

“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.”

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.

Through small details and large events like births, deaths, and betrayals, the characters are woven so effortlessly that the reader feels like a voyeur peering into their lit-up living room windows.

An intriguing fantasy about a young Chinese Malaysian woman of the 1890s pursued by ghosts and exploring the afterworld of Chinese folktales.

Above all, Kwok’s strength in Girl in Translation is world-building. Though this is usually associated with fantasy or science fiction, Kim’s New York is a parallel universe: her life at home with her mother is so far removed from the world she finds at school that they might as well be different planets.

Though there were sections of the book that felt overly drawn-out, in the end their slowness seems to be purposeful; even in the pacing of her novel, Adichie conveys the extended waiting periods that accompany war — waiting for food aid to arrive, to hear word of relatives’ whereabouts, to feel early idealism give way to desperation.

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.

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.

“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

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.

an emotion filled memoir of injustice and mental illness

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.

Another of Nunn’s fine mystery novels set in South Africa in the 1950s and revealing the confusion and complexities of apartheid.

An entertaining story of a man and a woman from different strata of Peruvian society by an author who grew up in the country.

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.

set in the modern world, these short&concise stories are about people from all over china but sometimes verge on the opaque

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.

Madras on Rainy Days is narrated by Layla, a young woman who has spent her life traveling back and forth between India and the United States.  The novel opens with the sounds of Layla’s mother crying from outside the room in which she has locked herself, as a form of protest against her arranged marriage.

Eloquent and radical analysis of environmental problems as caused by corporate greed.

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.

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.

“A novel both funny and moving by a Middle Eastern woman about a girl growing up in an eccentric family in Kuwait who became refugees when their country was attacked and who eventually come to Texas.

The narrator of A Map of Home is Nidali, a young woman struggling to come of age at the same time she is uprooted from her home by war and forced to become a refugee in a foreign country.”

“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.”

“Coercion and resistance, friends and rivals, tradition and revolution: the boundaries of politics, marriage, and class are examined and challenged in Maru.”

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.

Chapter One of Mazin Grace is titled ‘Minya wunyi wonganyi’, the Kokatha words for ‘small girl talking’. The small girl is Grace Dawn, and the opening of her narrative signals that this is a novel about naming and identity. It’s a fictional account of Dylan Coleman’s mother’s childhood at the Koonibba Lutheran Mission in the 1940s and 50s.

Ward grieves over losing five young men who were dear to her, including her younger brother, in a span of five years. She charts her own family’s history and the region and argues that her friends and her ancestors all died because of their poverty, environment, and the fact that they were Black men.

Miles from Nowhere is the kind of book that leaves you feeling off-balance, tripping on the characters’ sudden movements between horror and hope.

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.

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.

Fascinating if not wholly convincing study of representations of female divinity in ancient Indian culture.

This is the story of Jo Breen who, with her divorce settlement, buys a farm in the Byron Bay hinterland, in the hope of connecting to the land of her Aboriginal ancestors. As a foil to – and interwoven with – Jo’s means of acquiring land is the attempt of her boyfriend Twoboy, to lodge a native title claim.

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.

“In this memoir Aboriginal woman, Doreen Kartinyeri gives her explanation of the Hindmarsh Island Bridge controversy of the 1990s. Kartinyeri shares the story of her life and explains how she came to know about the secret women’s business that was at the core of the controversy. Her life story clearly establishes her expertise in Aboriginal knowledge and her identity as a Ngarrindjeri woman.

This is a well written and constructed book. I am grateful I had the opportunity to read it.”

An unusually perceptive novel explores the gains and losses of education and “westernization” for a teenage Rhodesian girl.

Crime fiction set in a contemporary working-class Japanese neighborhood. Warning: quite graphic.

“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.”

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.

“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.”

In the latest of her gripping mystery series, the South African/Australian author brings her detective into Johannesburg and focuses more closely on problems being caused by the introduction of apartheid.

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.

A sweet and gentle story told from the point of view of Sunny, an Indigenous girl raised by her Aunties.

“A delightful novel by an Indigenous author about a loving childhood in the Gundagai region of New South Wales.

Sunshine, or Sunny as she is called, is the bright, inquisitive girl, who narrates this collection of episodes from her childhood. She and her sister, Star, are being raised by her grandmother and two aunts, wonderful self-sufficient women who love to tell stories. In many ways, Sunny’s account could be that of any children anywhere, but in fact, their experiences are shaped by the fact that her family are Indigenous people, living in an area of white farmers in Australia. They are “different” as Sunny discovers and laments, but the aunts point out that difference is a good thing like purple, or black, threads in white cloth.”

there are other better books to read about life in “the ghetto”

An epic historical novel about a woman in India who was the daughter of one Raj, wife of another, and mother/regent for another during the last half century of British rule.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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!

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!

A moving account, in the form of a letter, of joys and tribulations of a Senegalese woman and her determination to deal with the personal and social changes.

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.

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.

Four friends on the verge of turning 30 are ready to have the best year of their lives, find success, and find their soul mate, but life has other plans in store for them first.

A superb speculative novel about humans with different genetic make-up and culture learning about each other and finding ways to cooperate.

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.

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?

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.

El Sadaawi prefaces this “novel” (read: novella) by explaining about a particular child’s game which involves singing and dancing in a circle, holding hands with other children, losing sight of beginnings and endings and who is whom. I would have done well to remember that as I read her little piece, which swirls between the twins Hamida (girl) and Hamido (boy), who live and die and kill and are beaten and raped and genitally mutilated and what exactly is happening to whom has little to do with what I knew the previous paragraph and even less bearing on the following one. That is, I think I need to reread this one day as poetry, because it is remarkably fluid, and quite powerful emotionally in terms of the horrors visited on the preadolescent twins in (we are given to understand) daily Egyptian life in the early 1970s. I would recommend it for cultural insight and its emotive power.

A fascinating memoir of Gioconda Belli’s life and loves while working with the Sandinistas to overthrow the Nicaraguan government.

A moving novel by a woman from Bangladesh exploring how people coped after their war for independence is won.

“A brilliantly constructed novel about Ceylon, the British Empire, and conflicting perceptions of truth by a woman who lived there as a child and knew its mysterious beauty and danger.

Michelle de Kretser is an amazing writer, both creative and thoughtful. Her words are meant to be savored and the larger patterns explored long after the book has been read.”

Compassionate but clear-eyed novel about a “perpetrator” of the Stolen Generation, written by the grand-daughter of a stolen child.

Short pieces narrated by a girl approaching adolescence about the people and events in the Hispanic neighborhood where she lives. Incredibly sensitive and lyrical.

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.

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.

A speculative fiction, young adult novel about a society that was destroyed in an environmental catastrophe. Its surviving people try to live in harmony with each other and their surroundings, and to keep ‘the Balance’. However, some of these people have abilities such as controlling fire, and they’re feared, so they’re caught and locked up in detention centres. Ashala ran away to escape this and lives with other runaways in a forest, until she’s captured and interrogated by the authorities at a detention centre, and must find a way to escape.

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.

not read for the challenge but definitely recommended for people looking for suggestions

A powerful novel about friendship, betrayal, and love in the violence of post-colonial Sierra Leone. One of the best novels I have read this year.

A family saga set in the Malaya Peninsula about a strong woman and her descendants.

So often books narrated by children or adolescents seem to use their narrators’ youth as a gimmick, but it truly works in The Round House. His mother’s attack and subsequent breakdown marks the end of Joe’s childhood and ushers in a new understanding of harsh reality that his parents deal with every day.

A powerful speculative novel about African people in different times and places living in hopeless situations finding ways to live with grace. The Salt Roads is the most ambitious and moving of NH’s novels that I have read. In it, she brings together the suffering of peoples from Africa in the sugar plantations of the Caribbean in the mid-eighteenth century, the parlors of Paris in the nineteenth century and the deserts of the Middle East in the fourth century. Connecting them is Ezili, a timeless spirit with her own personality who can enter individuals and “ride them.”

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.

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. …

A compelling story about a mute boy in the slums of Manila, the American woman he tries to rescue, and the furor caused by her disappearance.

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.

“Class divides and isolates the women in this novel from each other and fails to offer ways to combat the patriarchal society in which they live.”

Another brilliant and beautiful novel by a talented Indigenous Australian who writes about belonging and what it means to Indigenous people, and all of us, to have and to lose a homeland. Set in the near future as climate change affects the globe.

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.

Women are the main truth of this book-they are the glue that brings these stories together.

An exquisite novel about a Muslim woman, her life, her religion, and her love for a man from outside her culture. Leila Aboulela is one of my favorite authors because she writes beautifully and her books are simply a joy to read.

A superb and strange novel by an Indigenous woman about several generations of a family living on the southern savannas of Guyana.

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.

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.

This book is a thorough, almost dissecting, portrait of everything that a middle class wants, desires, and loses. Really not to be missed.

EC and SL had both highly recommended Jackie Kay’s writing and/or humour, so I snaffled this on my latest library shelf-trawl, and what a good (first!) novel this one was. In a chorus of voices – widow, son, mother, hack journalist, etc. – characters respond to the death of jazz trumpet great Joss Moody: ta-da, Joss was actually Josephine Moore but had been living as a man for at least 40 years. Sensitive, matter-of-fact, written with delicacy and aplomb, it’s a very good, very absorbing novel. Highly recommended. PS Love the sly titling.

A beautifully written and engaging memoir about a Cambodian Australian woman, her mother and her grandmother.

Set in the early 1850s, Wench tells a story not usually seen on bookshelves. Not only is the novel set well before the Civil War, but it focuses exclusively on the lives of the women who are brutalized and manipulated by the white men who own them. Though their stories are often sad or terrible to read, they feel all the more real for not glossing over the harshest scenes.

Hypnotic and provoking. Lai takes Chinese folktales about Foxes (mystical tricksters), blends them with historical accounts of women poets, and leads those stories into the lives of a group of queer Chinese Canadian young women in contemporary Vancouver. It’s a highly sophisticated diaspora novel, questioning identity, race, sexuality and gender in classic 90s fashion, but with genuine and innovative flair. I found the 20-somethings’ dramas a little wearing – thank god for age — but that would be the author successfully reaching her intended audience. A really interesting book, worth chasing down.

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.

The prose in When the Emperor Was Divine is simple and elegant, effortlessly conveying the stark reality of the internment camp and the hopelessness of its occupants.

An anthology of contemporary Zimbabwean fiction which offers slices of life of Zimbabweans at home and as migrants in the UK and South Africa. Well written, most informative, I’m glad I read it – no matter how terrible some of the scenes of daily life were, what with backyard abortions, family-sponsored rapes, murders, theft and pillage of prosperous farms. Recommended.

Purchased because of Bobis’ splendid novel Fish-Hair Woman. I’m not very fond of short stories as a genre – I find them too neat, too writing-school trim to be truly emotive; I also love narrative absorption, which the genre cannot by definition [‘short’] provide. I think this collection is competent enough, interesting in terms of cultural awareness of the Philippines and a Filipina experience in Australia, but I’m not enamoured. If you’re planning to read Bobis, I’d recommend putting your energies into the above novel first.

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 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.

An enjoyable fantasy by an African writer about a dark-skinned girl on another planet, her quest to save her friend’s life, and her own coming of age.

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.

Year-end Roundup

Global Women of Color

Year-end Roundup

 

What did you read and what did you like best for Global Women of Color?

I know some of you intended to read more than you actually did.  No need to apologize for low numbers.

I hope you will share something about what you did read, or learned, or thought about it.  Feel free to comment here.

As for next year, I am planning on leaving the GWC site up and I hope you will continue to tell us about the books you are reviewing.  I am hoping to make it easier to learn what others are reading; maybe posting what is read on a weekly basis.  Would any of you like to post reviews on the GWC blog?  Any other ideas for making the blog more interesting and useful?

Be sure and enter the books that you have read on the master list for 2013.  I will compile and print a list January 1.

Marilyn’s Personal Report:

MY FAVORITE GWC Books of 2013

Ghana Must Go, by Taiye Selasi.

Americah, by Chimamanda Adichie. 

Both of them move back and forth from Africa to the United States

The Swan Book, by Alexis Wright, by an Australian Indigenous author.

The Fish-Hair Woman, by Merlinda Bobbs, from the Philippines.

Both are speculative fiction and about everything.

WHAT I LEARNED FROM READING GWC BOOKS

As I read books by Global Women of Color, I didn’t just learn about other people.  Often I felt I entered their lives and understood them emotionally, at least in part.  I felt expanded, as if I had just made new friends.

THANKS TO ALL OF YOU WHO HAVE PARTICIPATED OR JUST STOPPED BY NOW AND THEN.    YOU INTRODUCED ME TO SOME WONDERFUL BOOKS.  AND I REALLY LIKED GETTING TO KNOW YOU.

The Untold Stories of Lebanese Veiled Females

The Untold Stories of Lebanese Veiled Females, Lebanonby bitani  |  August 11, 2013 at 6:38 PM

 

I just found this article about discrimination of women who wear the veil.  It raised several issues that I had not considered and helped me think about the problems for them, not only in Lebanon but in other countries.  Check it out.

http://worldpulse.com/node/75880

The author of this piece was among those that Worldpulse mentioned as redefining leadership.  See the longer list as well at Worldpulse.com.

Worldpulse is a site devoted to expanding women’s ability to tell their stories.

Edwidge Danticat interview

Edwidge Danticat discusses how she perceives herself of an Haitian writer and discusses her new book.  She is important and impressive.  Read her words in Aljazeera here.

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2013/9/21/a-conversation-withedwidgedanticat.html

15 Black Feminist Books for Everyone

15 Black Feminist Books for Everyone

Last week The Root posted a great list of Black Feminist books. Inspired by insensitive white women and black men, to it is list of books that should by read by everyone. There are some of my own all time favorites and some titles that there new to me. I am hesitant to label books that were written before the 1970s as feminist, but I totally agree that this are important for understanding the particular problems of black women.

 

Check it out. http://www.theroot.com/views/15-black-feminist-books-everyone-should-read

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.

Adichie on Feminism

We often hear that feminism is nothing but a western phenomena, something that African women don’t need.  Adichie strongly disagrees.  In a speech she calls on all women and men to become feminists.  Drawing from her own experiences in Africa, she provides strong reasons why feminism must be global. See the 30 minute video here.

A Celebration of Bessie Head

As I read Ama Ata Aidoo’s poem, I kept thinking how appropriate her words were for many of the global women of color whose books I have been reading.

Come
benevolently,
Dear Fresh Spirit,

that rejoining
The Others,
you can tell them
now more than ever,

do we need
the support
the energy

to create
recreate and
celebrate…

nothing more
absolutely
nothing less.

Sisters of Somalia video

Here is another beautiful and moving video about women of color, this time about the women and girls of Somalia who live in the refugee camps and about a women who is helping them regain their dignity. The women all wear veils in graceful and powerful ways, sometimes for privacy, but often looking out from them with beauty and individuality. The organization, Save Somali Women and Children (SSWC), runs a rape center and helps the refugees in a variety of small ways. Most of all they focus on showing the victims and refugees that they are loved and accepted. The video is 25 minutes and worth watching.

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/witness/2013/07/20137112549633235.html

Interview with Marilyn Dell Brady: Australian Women Writers Site

Paula has conducted an online interview with me that she has posted on Australian Women Writers. If you are curious about me, check it out. She discusses who I am and what I have done, and how I got interested on Global Women of Color. I am very pleased and flattered with her account.

Interview with Marilyn Dell Brady: Australian Women Writers Site

Video of Kenyan Women

The Red Dress

Barbara Minishi is a professional photographer in Kenya, specializing in commercial fashion images. She undertook a project, “The Red Dress,” in which she photographed and interviewed 50 women of her country, symbolizing 50 years of independence of Kenya. Each woman wore the same spectacular red dress and talked a little about her life and visions. A striking variety of women were included.

This film, featuring Minishi, was made by Katharina von Schroeder and included in the series about New Photography of Africa on Aljazeera. Some problems with synchronicity exist on the video, but I found the overall production an impressive example of women of color taking control of how they are depicted.
25 minutes in length.

What do some of you African women think of the video and the overall project it describes?

Aljazeera

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/artscape/2013/04/201342113363439653.html

Changes at GWC

As you can see I have been moving pieces around on the website. I would like to make the site more user-friendly. Reviews which have been added during the last month or so can now be checked more easily. Posts are now front and center, and I will try regularly to note some of the new reviews.

If any of you have ideas for other improvements, please suggest them to me. I am thinking about a blogroll of GWC contributors.  Does anyone mind being included?

GWC Reviews through May 5, 2013

Thanks to all of you who have listed your reviews on Global Women of Color.  Since January, sixty reviews have been entered on the Global Women of Color site.

If you want to go directly a review, simply click on its author and title.  You can see information about the authors’ origin and the countries where their stories are set by going to the Reviews for 2013 spread sheet. A brief comment by the reviewer about each book is also found there.

If others are reading and reviewing books by global women of color, we’d love to have you enter them here.  You don’t have to formally sign up.

Yari Yari Ntoaso – Major Conference on Women Writers of African Descent

Some of you might be interested in these.

Reading Pleasure

YariYari LogoThe Organization of Women Writers of Africa (OWWA) and New York University (NYU), in collaboration with the Ghana-based Mbaasem Foundation and the Spanish Fundación Mujeres por África (Women for Africa Foundation), will present Yari Yari Ntoaso: Continuing the Dialogue – An International Conference on Literature by Women of African Ancestry in Accra, Ghana, from May 16-19, 2013. This major conference will put writers, critics, and readers from across Africa, the USA, Europe, and the Caribbean in dialogue with each other.

Why now?

So far, the 21st century has witnessed the creation or reestablishment of women’s and writers ‘organizations throughout Africa and its Diaspora. Often these organizations both support and are staffed by emerging writers or those whose writing has yet to receive international recognition. Yari Yari Ntoaso marks this moment and provides an opportunity for these organizations, as well as individual writers and scholars, to share information and to build…

View original post 793 more words

Muslim Women in Eastern Europe

 Mariya Petkova is a Bulgarian freelance journalist based in Cairo. She is currently completing a graduate degree at Oxford University.  In Aljazeera,  she comments on the reasons why Eastern European Muslim women have not responded well to the efforts of a “western” feminist group to bring attention to feminism.

 Because she is from Bulgaria, she knows the recent history of women in the region.  Communists had forced them to abandon their religion and their traditional clothing and promised them “liberation” in return.  What happened was that women lost the security of family and village and got nothing but poorly paying jobs in return.  Now they see little reason to support a movement that derides their religion and its traditions.  Petkov is particularly critical of a group of Ukrainiain women who bared their breasts to publicize feminist concerns.

Her article is perseptive, if hardly new.  Even though the women she describes are not women of color, she addresses the problems that many Muslim women around the global have with feminism.  And why feminist have a particular need to read books by Muslim women and other women of color.

Some quotes from her article

Eastern European and Western female and male self-professed “feminists” have taken up onto themselves to define what women’s liberation means and expect the rest of the world to agree. For them one of the first priorities is to have women wear whatever they want… as long as it is not a burqa or niqab (or even hijab) because these are so denigrating…

So do you see, Maryna, why when you extend your hand in solidarity with Muslim women, while mocking their values, there is no response from the other side? If you show no respect to the beliefs and cultural heritage of these women and their ideas of womanhood, why should they show any respect to yours?…

 I think it is not difficult to decide which is more effective as an example of [Egyptian Muslim] women’s strength, fighting off stereotypes – women facing off with armed police, military and thugs who beat, torture, rape and kill – or a bunch of women who decide to take off their clothes for the media in a European capital.

Read her whole piece at http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/profile/mariya-petkova.html

Unity Dow, “Rethinking Africa”

Bibliograph has posted fine review of Unity Dow’s Far and Beyon’ that includes a 20 minute video of Dow speaking on “Rethinking Africa.”  Her ideas matter for those of us reading books by Global Women of Color.  Check it out.  It is so good, I want to include in my upcoming review of that book. See the video and her review at http://biblioglobal.wordpress.com/

In addition, I just posted a review of Drawing the Global Color Line: White Men’s Countries and the International Challenge of Racial Equality, by Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds. It’s not by or directly about global women of color, but very relevant to all who care about them. The book describes the specific ways that around 1900 white men around the world worked together to exclude define people of color as inferior and thus to exclude them form their governments and their countries.

Books about Muslim Women

I am not a Muslim woman nor an expert on their lives and religion.  I am simply excited about what I have been reading and learning, and I want to share it with others.

 Muslims feminists complain that US feminists, and those in other western countries, do not accept them as women with the right to retain their own religion and loyalties. They say that western women do not treat them as equals and expect them to blame their religion for all their woes.  They also claim that we treat them all as if they were terrorists.

 What can the rest of us do to correct this situation?   For those of us who are not Muslims, we can start out by learning about their lives, histories, and beliefs.  We can learn to tolerate and appreciate their religion and political loyalties even when they differ from our own. 

 First of all, we need to realize that today there are Muslim women everywhere.  Historically they have clustered in the Middle East, along North Africa, and in Indonesia, but like so many people today large numbers have emigrated beyond their countries of origin.  Some of the women of color living and writing in Europe and the USA, for example, are Muslims.

 Next, Islam is not a single tradition, defined by its male leaders, despite those leaders’ attempts to claim the alligence of all Muslims.  Since its beginning, Islam, like Christianity, has had a number of competing traditions.  The Shite/Sunni division is only the latest to force itself into global attention.  Different beliefs and practices are all claimed to be the authoritative one, but in reality none can speak for all.

 Islam, as it is known and practiced by women has often been traditionally differed from that practiced by men.  Traditionally, women have been excluded from leadership and from Friday prayers.  Often devote, they have practiced their religion in their homes among themselves.  Reading and hearing the Koran, they find evidence for the belief that they are essentially equal to the men even though they must obey them. Wearing the veil does not make women subservient, as some Westerners claim, but it can help them define themselves as separate from both the male world and outside world.

 

Suggested readings (with links to my reviews.)

Women and Gender in Islam, by Leila Ahmed.

Ahmed is a fine scholar, born in Egypt and educated at Oxford.  Her history of women and gender in Islam is definitive, readable, and fascinating.   The sheer quality of her research convinces me that she is to be trusted.  Not only is her book full of documentation and clear thinking, she put each period in the context of what other groups were doing that affected the Muslims.  She points out, for example, that Christianity emerged from the same cultural mix as Islam and, at times, was more restrictive of women than Islam.  She discusses how the British demonized the veil as repressive to women at the same time they closed schools for women.  In response, the veil has become  a popular symbol of rebellion against colonialism.

 

Border Crossing; From Cairo to America, by Leila Ahmed.

This memoir is a brief, thoughtful account of Ahmed’s life, including her own religious heritage and that of  her family.   It is memoir-writing at its best.  In it she deliberately sets out to re-examine her own committments.  Starting with her childhood in tolerant, cosmopolitan Cairo, she describes the different versions of Islam practiced by her scholarly father and her mother and sisters.  She tell of being a dark-skinned woman in England in the 1960s, trying to ignore the racial and gender discrimination she faced.  Then she writes about the importance of feminism in helping her identify the sources of obstacles in her life.

 

Arab & Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, & Belonging, edited by Rabab Abdulhadi, Evelyn Alsultany and Nadine Naber.

An important, radical anthology of articles, poems, and stories in which Arab and Arab American feminists challenge the assumptions and practices of mainstream feminism and accuse them of not listening to or respecting outsiders.  They proclaim their right to oppose US intervention in the Middle East and still be accepted as feminists.

 

Beyond the Veil,  by Fatima Mernissi.

I have not read this book, but others I trust have found it useful in understanding Muslim women.  I did read and review an earlier book of hers, Scheherazade Goes West, and was annoyed at how male-directed the author seemed to be.

Minaret, by Leila Abloulela. The best fictional narrative about how and why Islam is fullfilling for many women today, especially those away from their homelands.  Other fiction I have read either presents Islam as a background for women’s lives or makes Islam as a totally negative force in their lives. Even Aboulela’s fine Lyrics Alley does not highlight religion as much Minaret.

More Books Recommended for GWC

Recently I have discovered several new sources for additional books by and about Global Women of Color that I would like to share.

International Women of Color Fiction, an older, but very extensive list of books, posted by Browngirlspeaks.

Women’s Fiction, a new email “A newspaper about fiction by and for women, featuring some of the best recent stories from the web.

Books by women, reviews and information about about women writers around the world.

The Ten Best Contemporary African Books, as chosen by , deputy editor of Granta Magazine. Published by The Guardian/Observer, Saturday 25 August 2012.  (You may not agree these are the very best, but the list has a good selection of books by women that you may want to check, including one I just loved and reviewed, Lyrics Alley, by Leila Aboulela.

Sorry that I dropped from sight again.  I developed problems after my recent eye surgery, and visits to specialists four hours away left me absolutely exhausted.  All is well now.  I am glorying in my improved sight, and my energy is gradually returning.

GWC Reviews through March 15, 2013

After the past two and a half months, forty reviews have been entered on the Global Women of Color site.  Thanks to all who have included reviews here.  Many reviews are excellent.  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 the countries where their stories are set by going to the Reviews for 2013 spread sheet. A brief comment by the reviewer about each book is also found there.

Personal Note

Later this week I am having cataract surgery and will be offline for a while.  I have some blogs ready to be posted while I am gone, and I hope you will leave comments.  And I have audiobooks lined up for the duration.  I do plan to be back soon.

Two Day Left

Spinifex Book Giveaway.  List your review of a book by a Global Woman of Color on this site by midnight, February 28, to be eligible for a free book.

ONE WEEK LEFT

Spinifex Press Book Giveaway ends at midnight on February 28.  It you hope to win a book from them, list a book you have read and reviewed on the GCW review page by then.

Books will be chosen from the following list. You can read about them at the Spinifex website.  http://www.spinifexpress.com.au

• ‘If Passion Were A Flower’ by Lariane Fonseca

• ‘A Daughter of Isis’ and ‘Walking Through Fire’ by Nawal El Saadawi

• ‘Ao Toa: Earth Warriors’ by Cathie Dunsford

• ‘Trauma Trails, Recreating Song Lines’ by Judy Atkinson

• ‘Moebius Trip: Digressions From India’s Highways’ by Giti Thadani

• ‘The Seven Sisters of the Pleiades: Stories from around the World’ by Munya Andrews

• ‘Kick the Tin’ by Doris Kartinyeri

• ‘The Fabulous Feminist’ by Suniti Namjoshi

• ‘A Bit of Difference’ by Sefi Atta

• ‘Far and Beyon’’ by Unity Dow

• ‘Another Year in Africa’ by Rose Zwi

Karen Lord on Writing Diversity

“Writer from an Other Culture”

Karen Lord, the Caribbean author of a book I recently reviewed, has written an insightful article for the book section of the Huffington Post about what it means to be an author from an unfamiliar culture. In it she defines what “culture” means to a writer and what a writer from an Other Culture brings to readers. We may recognize the differences in the use of language or structure of a story, but what she sees as important is surprise “from the things we don’t know are different.”

“I am a West Indian writer, no matter what I write. The culture is in my phrasing, my brand of humor, the personalities of my characters and the philosophy that underpins my stories,” Lord says. It is not enough to recognize what is familiar in a story from an author from an Other Culture. She urges us to be sensitive to what we don’t know. “You will find it in those moments of story that make you pause, or even stumble. That is where the culture is, bouncing off foreign objects that you never knew were there.”

I think this is wise advice for those of us reading books by authors from a wide variety of cultures.

Read the entire article at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/karen-lord/writer-from-an-other-cult_b_2671832.html.

Books by Lord include Redemption in Indigo and The Best of all Possible Worlds.

Feminist Books by Women of Color

 Melissa at feministtexican has compiled a list of books contributing to feminism that have been written by global women of color and posted it on Goodreads.  She grew up along the Texas/Mexico border and frequently reviews books by women of color.  She has also signed up for Global Women of Color. Hers is an excellent list.  She includes some of my old favorites and introduced me to several new books I want to read.

Since the second wave of feminism began in the USA in the 1970s, American feminists have been attacked for being too narrow and ethnocentric in their thinking.  While that criticism is often all too justifiable, American women of color, like Audre Lorde and Gloria Anzaldua, have shaped the movement from its beginning.  Melissa Harris Perry continues in their tradition.  Such writers have not only criticized the whiteness of mainstream feminism, they have also made valuable contributions to its development. They have made sure that their own experiences as women are part of how we understand ourselves.  Because of their efforts, many American feminists today make a special effort to read and understand women globally rather than assuming all women share their own life patterns.

Check out Melissa’s list and some of the books she includes.  You can “vote” as I did, for those you have read and particularly appreciated.  http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/32106.Feminist_Books_by_Women_of_Color

Read some of them this month and be eligible for the Spinifex Press Book Giveway.

Publicity for GWC Reviews

I have profited immensely from starting this site.  My TBR shelf has grown with some exciting new titles. I am particularly pleased to have some of Latin American books to read.  I am now following some of you having tracked down your blogs.  But is it serving any of you?

Would you like more publicity about the reviews you write about books for this blog?  Would you like me to reblog your reviews so that others following this blog will be sure to see them?  Or perhaps I could regularly send out the brief comments you leave on our list?  Or maybe we could do pingbacks—if I can figure out how?  I have a GCW Twitter account.  Maybe you or I could send out messages about your books and reviews there.

Let me know if you have opinions or other ideas.  Or if you don’t need anything more.

And remember to list a review of GWC book here so that you can be in the drawing for a book by a woman of color donated by Spinifex Press.

Spinifex Giveaway for GWC

Spinfifex Press blog has posted an article by about the Global Women of Color and the Giveaway they are doing.  Check it out.  http://www.spinifexpress.com.au/

And be sure to leave your review of a Global Women of Color book so that you can win one of their books.

 

INDENTITIES OF WRITER PHOTOS

1. Toni Morrison, African American, perhaps America’s greatest living writer. Author of many novels. Her first, The Bluest Eye, is a good introduction to her work.

2. Shin Kyung-Sook, Korean author of Please Look After Mother, the 2012 winner of the Asia Man Literary Award.

3. Louise Erdrich, Native American author of a group of novels about the past and present of her Ojibwa people. Her latest book, Round House, won the National Book Award in the USA.

4. Alexis Wright, Indigenous Australian author of Carpentaria, written in the sweeping language and legends of her tradition and of her more conventional Plains of Promise.

5. Edwidge Danticat, Haitian American, who writes of the experiences of the people of Haiti in books like Breath, Eyes, Memory.

6. Bapsi Sidhwa, Pakistani author whose novels, like Cracking India, express her perspective as a Parsi (Zoroastrian).

7. Chimamanda Adichie, Nigerian author of Half a Yellow Sun and other novels, which tell of people involve in her nation’s post-independence struggles.

8. Helen Oyeyemi, British and Nigerian author who writes speculative fiction about immigration and identity including Icarus Daughter and Opposite House.

9. Suniti Namjoshi, Indian writer of fables and other imaginative writings such as Feminist Fables.

10.Sandra Cisneros, Chicana, writes of the experiences of Mexicans growing up in the United States in Carmelo and shorter works.

11.Gloria Anzaldúa, Chicana, draws on her childhood in South Texas, on the border between Mexico and the USA, to create a statement of what it means to be a “New Mestiza” who spans cultures in her Borderlands.

12.Marie NDiaye, a French writer of Africa descent who writes of women’s hardships in intense novels like Rosie Carpe and Three Strong Women.

13.Elizabeth Nunez, from Trinidad, she writes novels of the Carribean and of Africa including Prospero’s Daughter.

14.Leila Ahmed, an Egyptian who has written of Muslim women in her personal memoir, Border Crossing, and her scholarly history, Women and Gender in Islam.

As I tried to suggest what each of these authors have written in a sentence or two, I realized how they deal with similar themes; the stories of their own people, immigration, identity, and spanning the gulfs between cultures. And all write sensitively about a variety of women.

New Reviews Submitted

 

We are beginning to get reviews listed so that we can know what others are reading and what they think about what they have read.   And the ones listed look great.  Teresa reviews fascinating-sounding books from Cuba and Mauritius (an island in the Indian Ocean.)  Eva reports on a book by one of her favorite authors set in “an unnamed African country.”  Olduvai writes about a difficult and tragic novel linking Senegal and France.  Writereaderly recommends a novel/movie from Mongolia.  I have added my reviews of novels from India and Sudan/England.  I have also added a review that is relevant for this blog that I read on another blog—something I will do from time to time.  Check out the reviews.

All of you who have listed your reviews are now eligible for one of the books in the Spinifex Book Giveaway next month.   I hope more of you send in reviews and make yourselves eligible also.

I have a copy of Rosie Carpe, by Marie NDiaye, in the original French.  I ordered it used, but untouched, naively assuming it would be in English.  I’d be willing to give it away tor swap it to any of you who read French and would like it.  Depending on how far away from Texas you live, I’d like some help with international postage.  Another example of how easy it is to forget what the rest of the world is really like.

I have filled in the names of the writers on the GWC header as people have identified them.  You can check that post.  I have discovered that you will to find earlier posts in the archives once a post is removed from the home page.

 

 

Spinifex Book Giveaway for Global Women of Color.

January 18, 2013

Spinifex Press is offering five books by women of color to those participating in the Global Women of Color Blog/Challenge.   They are a feminist publishing company located in Australia.  They specialize in publishing diverse books.

These are hard-copy books, and Spinifex will send them anywhere in the world.

To be eligible, read and review a book by a woman of color and include information about it on the GWC site.  Winners will be drawn from this group.

 Drawing will take place the end of February.

Books will be chosen from the following list. You can read about them at the Spinifex website.  http://www.spinifexpress.com.au

• ‘If Passion Were A Flower’ by Lariane Fonseca

• ‘A Daughter of Isis’ and ‘Walking Through Fire’ by Nawal El Saadawi

• ‘Ao Toa: Earth Warriors’ by Cathie Dunsford

• ‘Trauma Trails, Recreating Song Lines’ by Judy Atkinson

• ‘Moebius Trip: Digressions From India’s Highways’ by Giti Thadani

• ‘The Seven Sisters of the Pleiades: Stories from around the World’ by Munya Andrews

• ‘Kick the Tin’ by Doris Kartinyeri

• ‘The Fabulous Feminist’ by Suniti Namjoshi

• ‘A Bit of Difference’ by Sefi Atta

• ‘Far and Beyon’’ by Unity Dow

• ‘Another Year in Africa’ by Rose Zwi

Photos of GWC Writers: Some identified.

Can you name the writers pictured on the global women of color website?  How many of their books have you read?

1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Some of the writers’ photo have been identified.  What about the others?

1. Toni Morrison

2. Shin Kyung-sook

3. Louise Erdrich

4.

5.  Edwidge Dandicat

6.

7.  Chimamanda Adichie

8.  Helen Oyeyemi

9.  Suniti Namjoshi

10.

11.

12. Marie NDiaye

13. Elizabeth Nunez

14. Leila Ahmed

Feminism without Borders

Eva is hosting the discussion of Feminism without Borders, by Chandra Mohanty on the Feminist Classics blog this month.  The book is dense and academic, but it is also insightful about how we can transcend our global differences.  Mohanty was raised in post-Independence Bombay and ready to push her readers with some new perspectives.  Do read it if you can handle that type of writing.  All are welcome to the discussion, whether or not you have read the book.  Eva has given us provocative questions from the reading to think about. http://feministclassics.wordpress.com/2013/01/02/feminism-without-borders-time-to-start-reading/

Several of you have contributed some great lists of books you propose to read.  If anyone is still looking for suggestions, look them over.

The form for entering reviews about books by Global Women of Color is up and ready.  Be sure to scroll down and push the SUBMIT button to get your review on the spreadsheet.  I added a couple of reviews that I had received on my own blog that I considered important and relevant.  I am eager to start hearing about what you are reading.

 

NEW Button for GWC Challenge/Blog.

Finally I have found an image I liked of women of color reading. It and other fine images were created by Carmen Gracia, an artist from Valencia, Spain. She was kind enough to let me use it. You can see her wonderful art at http://carmengarciagordillo.com, http://m.pinterest.com/carmenga/my-work/, and at http://www.etsy.com/shop/KolorAzul

Feel free to copy the image and add it to your own blog. Instruction are on the “Button” page.

My search for an image for the button was eye-opening. Part of the problem was the images I found and liked best were all under copyright and I couldn’t afford them. More disturbing was the scarcity of images of women of color. I have recently discovered all the images available online, especially the delightful ones of women reading. But when I really looked, they were stereotypically white women who read. In fact the overwhelming majority of all the images were of white women. The “mixed ethnicity” images usually included a blonde. Black women who were depicted were generally overly sexy or professional or very young.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. I had a visceral sensation of what it might be like to be a woman of color in an overly white world. I was more glad than ever that I am doing this blog to try and change that dynamic in a small way by making their writing more visible.

Gerda Lerner, Women’s Historian, dies

Gerda Lerner was one of scholars who introduced women’s history into US colleges and universities in the 1970s. Her radical voice has continued to influence the field ever since. One of her first project focused on an innovative books of documents by African American women which added them to US history for the first time.  The New York Times has a fine article about her life and impact.

Spinifex books for GWC

Spinifex Press in Australia just put up a blog about our Global Women of Color Challenge and Blog. They have included a list of books of theirs that would qualify. Check them out. http://www.spinifexpress.com.au/Blog/display/id=117/comments=show/

Marilyn