I know that there’s a ton of blogging events that are going on in September but I wanted to remind everyone that the deadline to sign up for Aarti’s blog tour, A More Diverse Universe is coming up. September 12th , which is this Wednesday, is the last day to sign up. There’s almost 70 bloggers signed up for the event and I just want to say thank you for doing so. But maybe there are a few people who are having a hard time coming up with a fantasy book that they want to read by a person of color. That’s understandable. I don’t read much fantasy myself and I had to really search my tbr piles, virtual and not, along with several reading lists to come up with a reading pool. Aarti posted a list of suggested reads earlier last week and I thought I should do the same but also share which books I might read. If you’re thinking about joining, I hope this list helps.
Blindness by José Saramago. I’m probably the only person who would put this book in the fantasy category so I might be crossing the line just a little. But seriously? This book is just too good to pass up. In Blindness, over a matter of months, the citizens of an unnamed country go blind. At first, people think it’s an epidemic that will surely go away until the blind outnumber those with sight. What happens next is chaotic, maddening, and at times, beautiful. If you want to read fantasy that doesn’t include witches or dragons, I recommend Blindness. Saramago’s writing is so good that it wasn’t surprising to find out that the Portuguese writer won the Nobel Prize in Literature soon after the publication of this book.
Note: After reading Ana’s comment below, I’ve decided to just recommend this book for the R.I.P. Challenge instead of both the tour and challenge.
Half World by Hiromi Goto. This book was first brought to my attention by the lovely M of Buried in Print. Half World is one of her favorite books and she recommended to me wholeheartedly. The book’s protagonist, Melanie, is an outsider. She’s poor, has no friends, and lives with her sickly mother. When her mother disappears, it’s up to Melanie to find her and bring her back to our world. I’ve just started reading this a few days ago. It’s a novel with very unusual characters.
Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith by Gina B. Nahai. If fantasy had a chick-lit sub-genre, this book would be on the list. I first read this book years ago and I can still remember images of it like the streets of Tehran and Roxanna, a character who sprouted wings one fateful night and flew out of her daughter’s life. If I owned a copy of this, it would sit next to Chocolat and Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate. This isn’t a book about food but it’s such a feel-good book that it reminds me of the previous two.
Short reads: Short stories and Novellas
Maybe you’re swamped with blog obligations, memes, and the like so you don’t have a lot of time to squeeze in one more novel. I’ve found a few stories that I’ve really enjoyed and you can read in less than an hour.
Lucretia and the Kroons by Victor Lavalle. I read this novella about the friendship between two young girls, one of whom is dying, a few weeks ago. No review yet. Lucretia knows that Lily is sick but she hopes that one day her friend will get better. When Lily goes missing, it’s up to Lucretia to bring her back from the underworld. Lavalle takes less than a hundred pages and gives readers a sweet story about childhood friendships, love, and death. Note: this book is only available as an e-book and it’s priced at $ 0.99 at most ebook retailers.
“Pishaach” by Sweta Marayan. This story was featured in Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling’s The Beastly Bride, an anthology of stories about shape-shifters. When her grandmother disappears, only Shruti knows her secret: that her grandmother is a shape-shifter who went back to her own world. Shruti is an outsider among her own family and longs to be with her grandmother. But will Shruti ever get the chance to? This story was nominated for the Nebula Award in 2010. Also featured in the anthology is Hiromi Goto’s short story, “The Hikikomori”.
Collected Stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Marquez is one of those writers whose stories are anthologized so much that you can’t help but run into his stories. If you only read one story from this collection, make it “The Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”. It’s a story about a small village that discovers a man with enormous wings and what happens once he’s there. You could probably find this story posted online.
So maybe you don’t have time to read a full novel or you’re not a short story kind of person. There’s still hope. Here are four graphic novels you could try.
Ichiro by Ryan Izanama. You know how you read a book and then you’re basically a disciple afterwards, harassing asking people to read it, telling them how awesome it is? Ichiro is that book for me this year. Ichiro is the story of a young boy who’s obsessed with war. His father, a soldier, recently died in Iraq, and Ichiro’s clings to his father’s army things. It’s only after a move to Japan from New York that Ichiro learns about the country’s history. But it’s during a fateful encounter with several Shinto gods and a shape-shifting fox, that Ichiro realizes maybe war isn’t as simple as he thought.
Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory. 2011 was the year that I wanted everyone to read Chew, though I knew it’s not for anyone with a weak stomach. Detective Tony Chu is a cibopathic, a person who gets psychic (and very graphic) impressions from the food he’s eating. If Tony eats one bite of a hamburger, he can tell you where each ingredient came from and even the type of life the animal lived. When Tony finds a human finger in his dinner, he goes on the hunt for a murderer and his secret is leaked. Now Tony’s working for the government and has to deal with Russian spies, double agents, and cyborg co-workers. Did I mention that Tony lives in a time where owning and eating chickens is illegal?
Bayou series by Jeremy Love. I’m going to describe this book in the same way that I’ve always described it. Bayou is an amazing Southern Alice in Wonderland. Unlike Alice, readers are plunged into Southern folklore and characters like Brier Rabbit. It’s a dark and fantastic read.
Shaun Tan. Noticed that I didn’t put any titles in front of Tan’s name? That’s because pretty much everything by Tan is perfect for this blog tour. But if you want me to, I’ll give you the names of a few titles that I really enjoyed: Tales from Outer Suburbia, The Arrival, and Lost & Found. I’m not going to tell you what they’re about because it doesn’t matter. They’re all good. I do have to warn you though, if you buy a book by Tan, you need to buy two copies. One copy is to read and the other to tear out the pages and frame them for your walls. Seriously.
I hope this post helps you find something to read for the blog tour or even Carl’s R.I.P. Challenge. If you’re joining the blog tour or the challenge, what will you be reading?