06 July 2018

7 Diverse Novels to Read in July

Like most of you, I've become aware over the last few years that it's not enough to simply say you support the diverse book movement. If you want change and representation, you have to take an active part. For me, that means reading (and reviewing) books I consider to be diverse and also promoting such books. As I've written here many times before, my definition of a diverse book will likely vary from yours. Here are 7 novels coming out this month that are on my diverse reading list.

Two notes: the brief summaries come from promotional materials and the opening lines for some of the titles come from advanced reader editions and may differ from the finished book.

7 diverse novels to read in JulySilent Hearts by Gwen Florio (Atria, July 24). The gist: "Two women—an American aid worker and her local interpreter—form an unexpected friendship despite their utterly different life experiences and the ever-increasing violence that surrounds them in Kabul." The opening lines: "Each day she remained unmarried, Farida Basra played At Least. She turned to the game as she waited for her bus on a street lined with high, bougainvillea-adorned stucco walls that shielded the homes of Islamabad's wealthy from the envious and resentful. . . . She may be poor, but at least she isn't a street sweeper." Reviews: Library Journal starred review; blurbed by Thrity Umrigar; Goodreads 4.5 stars. The author: American writer who has reported from Mideast war zones (woman). Diversity & themes: set in South Asia (Afghanistan); feminism and women's issues; effects of war; friendship; cultural, social, and religious issues.

7 diverse novels to read in JulyAmerica for Beginners by Leah Franqui (William Morrow, July 24). The gist: An Indian widow does the unexpected: she leaves for America, planning to travel coast to coast to learn more about her deceased son. The opening lines: " 'You’re going to get violated, madam, that’s all I have to say on the matter.' Given that her maid, Tanvi, had been lecturing her for over an hour, talking as the other servants of the house had come and gone, Pival Sengupta was quite certain that this was not all the maid had to say about the matter." Reviews: Library Journal starred review; positive review from Booklist; Goodreads 4.5 stars. The author: American playwright with a diverse background living in Mumbai (woman). Diversity & themes: immigration from South Asia (India); LBGTQ+; women's issues; prejudice; marriage and parenthood.

7 diverse novels to read in JulyThe Family Tabor by Cherise Wolas (Flatiron, July 17). The gist: "Set over the course of a single weekend, five members of a family confront the lies upon which their lives are built." The opening lines: "Tomorrow evening, Harry Tabor will be anointed Man of the Decade. If this were the 1300s, he would be running for his life to escape savage pogroms in France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, or Bohemia. If this were the 1800s in Imperial Russia, he would be running for his life to escape save pogroms in Odessa, in Warsaw, in Kishinev, in Kiev, in Bialystok, or in Lviv." Reviews: positive from Shelf Awareness; mixed from bloggers; Goodreads 3.5 stars. The author: American writer and film producer (woman). Diversity & themes: Jewish; family; secrets; redemption and forgiveness; the inescapable past.

7 diverse novels to read in JulyI'm Not Missing by Carrie Fountain (Flatiron, July 10): The gist: Abandoned first by her mother and then by her best friend, a girl experiments with finding her own identity. The opening lines: " 'It's not weird.' I sat down in the dirt and leaned back against the cold granite of Manny's tombstome. I tried to breathe in the winter air, but really all I could smell was enchiladas. 'Why's it suddenly weird?' 'Cause it's weird,' Syd said, without looking up from her phone. 'It's always been weird. I just--Now I'm not as tolerant." Reviews: generally positive from traditional print sources; Goodreads 4.5 stars. The author: American poet from New Mexico (woman). Diversity & themes: half-Latino main character; abandonment; coming-of-age; finding oneself; #MeToo issues (YA audience)

7 diverse novels to read in JulyFrom a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan (Penguin, July 17): The gist: "Three [very different] men, searching for some version of home [are] moving inexorably towards a reckoning that will draw them all together." The opening lines: "Let me tell you something about trees. They speak to each other. Just think what they must say. What could a tree have to say to a tree? Lots and lots. I bet they could talk forever. Some of them live for centuries. The things they must see, that must happen around them, the things they must hear." Reviews: glowing praise from The Guardian; guarded praise from Kirkus; Goodreads 4 stars. The author: Prize-winning Irish author (man). Diversity & themes: Syrian immigrants; family; relationships; loss; forgiveness; finding inner peace.

7 diverse books to read in JulyFruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras (Doubleday, July 31): The gist: Two girls--one young and sheltered, one a teenage maid--together must choose how to survive civil unrest in a violent country. The opening lines: "The Photograph: She sits in a plastic chair in front of a brick wall, slouching. She is meek with her hair parted down the middle. There are almost no lips to be seen, but by the way she bares her teeth you can tell she is smiling. At first the smile seems flat but the more I study it, the more it seems careless and irresponsible." Reviews: starred reviews from Booklist, Library Journal, and LibraryReads; Goodreads 4 stars. The author: A Columbian short-story writer (woman). Diversity & themes: immigration from South America (Columbia); friendship; war; women's choices; coming-of-age.

7 diverse books to read in JulyThe Incendiaries by R. O. Kwon (Riverhead, July 31): The gist: "A young woman at an elite American university is drawn into acts of domestic terrorism by a cult tied to North Korea." The opening lines: "They’d have gathered on a rooftop in Noxhurst to watch the explosion. Platt Hall, I think, eleven floors up: I know his ego, and he’d have picked the tallest point he could. So often, I’ve imagined how they felt, waiting. With six minutes left, the slant light of dusk reddened the high old spires of the college, the level gables of its surrounding town." Reviews: an Indies Present honor; blurbed by Viet Thanh Nguyen; Goodreads 4 stars. The author: South Korean author raised in the United States (woman). Diversity & themes: Korean American main character; loss; love; cults; terrorism; coming-of-age; self-worth.


Vicki 7/6/18, 9:21 AM  

I think I might enjoy the first three. I'll see if my library has any of them.

bermudaonion 7/6/18, 10:00 AM  

Oooh, I want to read all of them.

Mystica 7/6/18, 10:59 AM  

I need to check a few of them here. All these add to my lists!

(Diane) bookchickdi 7/6/18, 12:31 PM  

There are so many great books here. America For Beginners is next up for me.

Greg 7/6/18, 9:51 PM  

Looks like some good stuff here. From A Low and Quiet sea kind of appeals to me, I like that excerpt.

Daryl 7/18/18, 8:17 AM  

an interesting selection .. i am listening to Warlight and while i am liking it, it moves slower than molasses in winter ...

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