I was kindly tagged by the lovely Tash over at The Bookie Monsters to take part in The Diverse Books Tag. I’m a big supporter of the call for better representation in literature, so am more than happy to get involved. I’ve included mostly books I’ve already read, but also chose a few books from my TBR to encourage myself to keep reading diversely.
You can find the original version of this tag here, but without further ado, let’s get started!
- Find a book starring a lesbian character
For this I’ve picked A Portable Shelter by Kirsty Logan, a series of interwoven short stories that follows a lesbian couple as they await the birth of their first child, taking turns to tell it fairy tales that mask truths about our own world.
- Find a book with a Muslim protagonist
I’ve decided to go with I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. I’m well aware that Malala isn’t a protagonist but rather a living, breathing, and quite remarkable human being, but I thought it would be nice to include some non-fiction, in the spirit of diversity. Malala is a teenage girl who campaigns for peace and girls’ education rights who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban.
- Find a book set in Latin America
Gabriel García Márquez is a highly respected Latin American novelist and I haven’t read any of his work yet, so I’ve picked one of his most widely celebrated novels, One Hundred Years of Solitude.
- Find a book about a person with a disability
Marie-Laure, the protagonist of All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, is a young blind French girl forced to flee with her father during WWII. For a book that follows a blind character, I thought the prose itself and the imagery were wonderfully vivid.
- Find a Science-Fiction or Fantasy book with a POC protagonist
For this I’ve decided to go with the Saga comic series by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. I’ve chosen this mainly because it has several POC characters, most notably Alana, the kick-ass principle heroine. However, I also chose it because an interview with writer Vaughan stuck in my mind in which he admitted that the racial diversity is due to the artist, Fiona Staples, who asked, ‘why does Alana have to be white?’, and in doing so brought to his attention his own habit of assuming characters are white by default, which I think is a fascinating topic and something many of us are guilty of.
- Find a book set in (or about) any country in Africa
To throw a little more non-fiction into the mix, I’ve gone with We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a very short and approachable book in which Nigerian author Adichie compared her experiences as a woman in both the US and Africa, which I found interesting. I would also like to try some of her fiction, which is often spoken of very highly.
- Find a book written by an Indigenous or Native author
I’m going to cheat slightly with this one because the author, Jean Craighead George, was not Native as far as I’m aware, but her book, Julie of the Wolves, follows an indigenous Inuit girl torn between her native culture and the pressures of the outside world who flees her home and, lost in the Alaskan tundra, is taken in by a pack of wolves. This caught my attention years ago but I never got round to reading it, so I’m glad this question brought it back to mind.
- Find a book set in South Asia (Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, etc.)
For this I’ve chosen Parvana’s Journey by Deborah Ellis, which follows a young girl’s perilous trip across war-torn Afghanistan to try and find her family. This is technically the sequel to The Breadwinner, which I also recommend, but despite having read this book many years ago, I particularly remember being moved by the ending, and it has stayed with me ever since.
- Find a book with a biracial protagonist
Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You centres around a mixed race family with a Chinese father and an American mother in 1970s Ohio. The book opens with the death of the family’s ‘favourite child’, and follows the ways they deal with this grief and try to understand the nature of her demise. One of the major sub-plots revolves around the grandmother’s previous attempts to stop her daughter marrying an Asian man, highlighting the racial tensions that existed at the time.
- Find a book starring a transgender character or about transgender issues
Stella from The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan is a fantastic character, who just so happens to be transgender. Feisty, brave, funny and inquisitive, she has a wonderful relationship with her supportive mother, Constance, and along with a newcomer to the remote Scottish caravan park they call home, they try to find their place in a world they no longer understand for different reasons, in this quiet character driven story set against the backdrop of an impending Ice Age.