In the past we’ve shared quite a few solid reading recommendations to add diversity to your book club selections. Check out 4 Reading Recommendations To Add Diversity to Your Book Club Reads and 5 More Fiction Recommendations To Add Diversity To Your Book Club Reads. But we’re going to recommend …. 9 More Fiction Recommendations to Add Diversity to Your Book Club Selections…
✤ TANYA ✤
My Sister the Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite
This book is about two sisters, one of whom is a serial killer, the other the resentful, yearning enabler. What a premise! Both sisters are flawed, but the book is written with satire and dark humor, which makes the somewhat implausible scenario seem very plausible. And it explores in a witty way, the relationship between sisters, one of whom seems to be favored in everything.
When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in “self-defense” and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating a doctor at the hospital where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other.
An American Marriage, Tayari Jones
This book is on every “Best of the Year” list and rightly so. The author takes a heavy subject like race and the injustices perpetuated against black males that lands them in the prison system – and makes us look at the effect on the family relationships. It’s an interesting, character driven plot which dives deep and pulls us in. Highly recommended!
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. In this deft exploration of love, loyalty, race, justice, and both Black masculinity and Black womanhood in 21st century America, Jones achieves that most-elusive of all literary goals: the Great American Novel.
Behold the Dreamers, Imbolo Mbue
My favorite book read last year was Behold the Dreamers – no other book touched me like this, nor held me in the story like this did. Perhaps it’s because I’m an immigrant myself, and know a LOT of other immigrants, so this story was familiar, or maybe it was just the great way the story was told, or maybe it was because I could so vividly picture this family, their apartment, their struggle, or maybe it’s because the audiobook narration by Prentice Onayemi was so spot on … or maybe it’s just all of the above.
Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty – and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. However, when the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job – even as their marriage threatens to fall apart.
Washington Black, Esi Edugyan
This winner of the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize follows Washington Black, Wash for short, from his time growing up as a slave in the Caribbean island of Barbados, to the US, (near the) North Pole, Canada, England, Amsterdam and Morocco. Sounds like a lot … and it does require some suspension of belief … but the author takes us along fairly swiftly and holds our attention with the drama and intrigue.
In 1830, two English brothers arrive at a Barbados sugar plantation, bringing with them a darkness beyond what the slaves have already known. Washington Black, an eleven-year-old field slave, is horrified to find himself chosen to live in the quarters of one of these men. But his new master is not as Washington expects him to be. He is the eccentric Christopher Wilde, naturalist, explorer, inventor and abolitionist, whose obsession with perfecting a winged flying machine disturbs all who know him. Washington is initiated into a world of wonder: a world where the night sea viewed from a hilltop explodes with light, where a simple cloth canopy can propel a man across the sky, where even a boy born in chains may embrace a life of dignity and meaning – and where two people separated by an impossible divide can begin to see each other as human.
Pride, Ibi Zoboi
Pride is a (young adult) retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice … but against the modern, multicultural urban setting of Bushwick in Brooklyn, NY. Zoboi has really taken the Austen tale and made it her own with a unique spin. Zuri witnesseses the gentrification of her much-loved neighbourhood, as more and more rich people move in and drive up property taxes. It’s not a complex story and while gentrification plays heavily in this novel, the perspective is often simplistic as it is coming from a teenager. But this book will spark discussion in a book club as there are many themes that can be unpacked. Zoboi also wrote American Street, which was on our list last year.
Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable. When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding.
New Boy, Tracy Chevalier
New Boy is part of The Hogarth Shakespeare Series which sees Shakespeare’s works retold by acclaimed and bestselling novelists of today. New Boy is a retelling of Othello. Similar to Pride, there is an unusual take on the retelling – this time the setting is an elementary school and there is a new black boy in school who has captured the attention of the most popular girl in the grade – and some people aren’t having it … kids and teachers. Don’t be put off by the setting – this book shows little kids can be just as manipulative and back stabbing as the rest!
Arriving at his fifth school in as many years, a diplomat’s son, Osei Kokote, knows he needs an ally if he is to survive his first day so he’s lucky to hit it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school. But one student can’t stand to witness this budding relationship: Ian decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy and the golden girl. By the end of the day, the school and its key players – teachers and pupils alike – will never be the same again.
✩ KIM ✩
An Unkindness of Ghosts, Rivers Solomon
If you want to inject a bit of science fiction as well as diversity into your book club reading, this is the book to do it with. The book centers around Aster, who is brilliant but strange. While there is a mystery to unravel, the story also explores all varieties of relationships. I think those relationships were even more interesting to me than the actual plot of the book. It’s also about enslavement, which means there’s a lot that will feel wrong and depressing- and rightfully so. You might feel like your slogging through trial after trial at times, but I think that’s the point. Your book club will sure have a lot to discuss after this one.
Aster lives in the low-deck slums of the HSS Matilda, a space vessel organized much like the antebellum South. For generations, the Matilda has ferried the last of humanity to a mythical Promised Land. On its way, the ship’s leaders have imposed harsh moral restrictions and deep indignities on dark-skinned sharecroppers like Aster, who they consider to be less than human. When the autopsy of Matilda‘s sovereign reveals a surprising link between his death and her mother’s suicide some quarter-century before, Aster retraces her mother’s footsteps. Embroiled in a grudge with a brutal overseer and sowing the seeds of civil war, Aster learns there may be a way off the ship if she’s willing to fight for it.
The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo
This is perfect for a book club because it’s such a quick read. Written in the form of narrative poetry that had me turning pages quickly, anxious to see how things would play out. Xiomara, “X”, is a typical teenager trying to find her way amidst conflicting life values. You’ll explore the fine line between honoring your parents and your heritage and making a place in the world that is all your own. “X” is also a twin and I enjoyed the quiet moments the two shared throughout the book. Her twins story is secondary to her own, but it makes a large mark on the overall message of the book as well.
A young girl in Harlem discovers, and uses, slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion, high school drama, boys and love, and her own relationship to the world.
Boy 21, Matthew Quick
I think more book clubs should consider middle grade and young adult books to read and discuss. There are some really great stories out there that are seemingly simple on the outside, and yet hold such deeper issues worth exploring. Boy 21 is one such book. On the outside it may seem just another book about a star kid befriending a troubled kid, but there’s so much more to this one. You’ll really fall in love with the characters.
Russ has just moved to the neighborhood. A former teen basketball phenom from a privileged home, his life has been turned upside down by tragedy. Cut off from everyone he knows, he now answers only to the name “Boy21″—his former jersey number—and has an unusual obsession with outer space. Basketball has always been an escape for Finley. He lives in gray, broken Bellmont, a town ruled by the Irish Mob, drugs, violence, and racially charged rivalries. At home, he takes care of his disabled grandfather, and at school he’s called “White Rabbit”, the only white kid on the varsity basketball team. An unlikely friendship is formed between the two and it turns out, they’re just what each other needs.
Which recently read book written by an author of color would you recommend to a book club? Have you read any of these books? What did you think?