Tag Archives: PoC

A More Diverse Universe – Sept 23-29 2012

Thanks to Aarti at Booklust for announcing A More Diverse Universe, a reading event and blog tour celebrating diversity in fantasy fiction. I’m not usually one for blog tours but I think this is and extremely important event.  And with R.I.P. VII happening the timing is just perfect.

From Aarti’s post:

For one week in September (the week of the 23rd), we want ALL OF YOU fantasy readers (with blogs and without) to read a fantasy novel written by a person of color.  And to write a review of that book.  You know as well as I do that books succeed based on word of mouth and mentions and conversation, and this is where bloggers can help the MOST.  Just read one book.  And share your thoughts on that one book.

I plan on reading several books written by people of color for R.I.P. VII.  There are links to a wide selection of authors and book titles in Aarti’s post.  Please join us and spread the word.


Filed under Blog Tour, Books, DarkFantasy, Diversity, Events, Fantasy, PoC

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

“Dear friends, are you afraid of death?”
Patrice Lumumba, first and only elected
Prime Minister of the Republic of the Congo

The epigraph from Nnedi Okorafor’s Who Fears Death

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

DAW Books, New York, 2010

Borrowed from my public library.

I have been introduced to Nnedi Okorafor’s books on several blogs over the past year.  Her titles for young adults are quite popular, but I haven’t read them.  After reading Who Fears Death I will change that.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book and the impact of it has me reeling.

In post-apocalyptic Africa one tribe has enslaved another.  Now the Nuru tribe has decided to follow their “great Book” and eliminate the enslaved Okeke.  Through rape as a weapon of war a girl child is born.  This child is named Onyesonwu, by her mother.  The word means “Who Fears Death” in an ancient language.  As Onye grows up, strong-willed and determined, she learns she is marked by her unusual hair and skin color, a Ewu, considered an out-cast by some, a pariah by others.   She also discovers she is different in other ways, she can shape-shift and travel outside her body.  She is determined to be trained as a magician .

Because of a prophesy Onye and several companions, including her lover Mwita, travel from their village, heading west through a world of desolation. They are on a journey to find and destroy a magician,  a very dangerous man named Daib, who is Mwita’s teacher and Onye’s biological father.

Okorafor has created a story where the past is unknown and I found myself wanting more of its history.  Who Fears Death is a dark and timely fantasy that uses  violence that occurs in present day Africa, both ethnic violence and violence against women,  as the ground for her novel.  It is a difficult book, at times very hard to read.

As I read, visualizing  the rapes, female circumcision,  stoning and genocide, all I could think of is  that these things are happening in many places right now, not sometime in the far distant future.  This mix of present day current events, fantasy and future technology makes for an intense reading experience, one that has me thinking deeply about what we human beings, through our beliefs and prejudices,  can do to each other.

This is an important book.  Even if you are not a fantasy fan I suggest you read it.

Other reviews:

Books and Movies

The Literary Omnivore

The OF blog


Filed under DarkFantasy, OnceUponATime V, POC Challenge, Review

I Do Not Come To You By Chance by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

I Do Not Come To You By Chance

by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

Hyperion, New York, 2009

Borrowed from the library.

This is a book I picked up off the shelf at the library,  having no idea what it was about.  Sometimes I get lucky.

I Do Not Come To You By Chance is the story Kingsley, the eldest son, and his middle class Nigerian family.   Corruption, crime and oil money are destroying the traditions of his culture and everything he has grow up to believe in is failing. When his university degree fails to land him a job, his uncle Boniface offers him work in a growth industry.  Email scams.

My father was learned and honest.  Yet he could neither feed his family nor clothe his children.  My mother was also learned, and her life had not been particularly improved much by education.  I thought about my father’s pals most of whom were riding rickety cars…about most of my university lecturers with their boogie-woogie clothes and desperate attempts to fight off hunger by selling over priced handouts to students.  Yet Uncle Boniface –our savior in this time of crisis–had not completed his secondary school education..From page 151.

This is a  wonderful first novel by a young Nigerian writer.  Nwaubani write with compassion and biting humor and shows us a view of  Nigeria from the inside.   Ever wonder if those email scams work?  This book seems to say they do.


Filed under 2010 Global Reading Challenge, New Authors 2010, PoC, Review

Mr. Potter By Jamaica Kincaid

Mr. Potter by Jamaica Kincaid

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2002

A strange and poetic short novel that follows the life of Mr. Potter, an illiterate chauffeur on the island of Antigua. Written by his daughter, the first member of the family to read and write, is is a praise song to his life, his home and the people surrounding him.

Delving into history, belief and suffering,  Mr. Potter is also a celebration of the value of literacy and language.

How each moment is brimming over with the possibility of change, how each moment is brimming over with the new; and yet how each moment the world is seemingly fixed and steadfast and unchanging; how for some of us we are nothing if we are not like the cockle in its shell, the bird in its feathers, the mammal covered with hair and skin; how certain we are that the world will insure  our fixed state of happiness or misery or anything of the vast range in between; how in defeat we see eternity and how so too we see forever and ever and ever again and again in victory; how in some dim and distant way we feel we are nothing and how certain we are that we are everything, all that is to be is present in us and no thing or idea of any kind will replace us.  From page 85.

As I was reading this novel, there were times that I struggled with the density of Kincaid’s prose, as if I couldn’t stop to take a breath.  It was uncomfortable and I wonder if that was her intension.  By sticking with it I found a beautiful rhythm, as if I was in a small boat, sometimes rushing down a swift river, other times rocking on a gentle sea.  It was worth the struggle and I plan on reading more of Jamaica Kincaid’s novels and her book on gardens!


Filed under Fiction, New Authors 2010, PoC, Review

The Rock And The River by Kekla Magoon

The Rock And The River by Kekla Magoon

Aladdin, New York, 2009

Borrowed from the library.

This is a book that should win many awards.  Kekla Magoon has taken a difficult time in civil rights history and brought it to life with grace and lyrical language.

Sam is 13 and the son of  civil rights activist who is close to Reverend Martin Luther King.  He and his older brother, Stick, have grown up making signs and marching in demonstrations.  It is 1968 in Chicago and some people feel that the movement is not bringing change fast enough.  When Stick decides to join the Black Panther Party, Sam has to decide if he will follow his beloved brother or stay on the path his father has chosen.  Magoon expresses Sam’s thoughts in a way that is very rare.  There is deep understanding and compassion here.

As Stick went on, I let myself be captivated by his words, swept up into his vision of the movement.  I had been so deep inside Father’s for so long that it felt good to rise above what I knew.  I entered another space in that moment, as if I could see a corner of Stick’s mind that had long been hidden from me. From page 232.

The anger returned then, in a way I hadn’t imagined possible.  Anger can come to you so tangibly, so physically it’s like a separate person.  As if someone enters your body, stands there with one fist in your throat and the other tight around your gut.  It’s like tears you can’t cry, but stronger, more insistent.  Deeper.  And it won’t let go.  It’s cramped and it’s crying, but it won’t let go.  From page 254.

Writing about the Black Panther Party in a balanced way could not have been easy. The Panther organization should be considered one of the most important political and social movements in American history but, unless you were directly involved or have studied Black history,  they have faded from cultural memory.   Maybe that’s because there are very few things more frightening to a white person then a black person with a gun.  That is how most people saw the Black Panthers.

During the 1960’s the government and the press chose to portray the Black Panthers as radical,  gun wielding thugs.  As a white person, or even a middle-class black person, unless you were willing to look past the lurid headlines, you missed the  attempts to end police brutality, the food programs, free health clinics and systems of social support that were the party’s primary focus.  The federal government developed a program to spy on, infiltrate and destroy them. I’m sure that today they would immediately be labeled “domestic terrorists”.

In The Rock and the River, Kekla Magoon brings the Panther’s goals back into focus and shines a light on divisions within the civil rights community.   I hope this novel gains wide recognition.  It has won the 2010 John Steptoe Award for New Talent and has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award.  Magoon is a brilliant, articulate young women and deserves high praise. Her website is here. Twenty-eight Days Later has an interview with her here.

Other reviews:


Bookshelves of Doom


Have you reviewed this book?


Filed under Historical Fiction, New Authors 2010, PoC, Review, Young Adult

Filter House by Nisi Shawl

Filter House by Nisi Shawl

Aqueduct Press, Seattle, 2008

Borrowed from the library.

I don’t really know how to describe this collection, other than to say that it is a gentle magical blend of fantasy and science fiction.  Gentle because the stories often have a child at the center, magical because they are woven from past and future using folklore, science and “good medicine”.

The stories range from an urban tale of discovery with a very grown-up 10-year-old as its protagonist to a world building saga with genetically engineered apes used as terra-formers.  There is an African folktale and a story that uses John C. Lilly’s Programming and Metaprogramming  in the Human Biocomputer: Theory and Experiments as a possible explanation for Voudon trance states.

In her stories Shawl touches on things a child faces as she grows up.  Themes include independence, identity, self worth, sexuality and gender issues.   All of these stories use their magic to  reveal who we are as humans, right here,  right now.  For  a first collection this book is  a wonder.

From Wallamelon:

Like the lace of a giantess, leaves covered the front of the house front in a pattern of repeating hearts.  Elsewhere in the neighborhood sibling plants, self-sown from those she’d first planted around the perimeter, arched from phone pole to lamp post, encircling her home.  Keeping it safe. So Mercy could return. (Page 45)

From Maggies:

Tata always made it a point, on her return, to give me some treasure found on her excursions.  Something interesting, something different, with a story behind it.  This must have been hard for her.  Far off, over invisible horizons, maggies spread corals around other stations as ours did here.  Aside from this the Nassea was empty of life, void of history .  There were the sludges, various excretory masses of bacteria that accumulated in the presence of certain chemicals.  There were fossilized sludges and other mineral formations.  That was it.  (Page 99)

Nisi Shawl is a Seattle author who writes reviews and columns for The Seattle Times and is on the board of the Clarion West Writers Workshop.  I will keep my eyes open for a reading.  It would be lovely to hear her read one of these stories in person.  Her web site is here.

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Filed under 42SciFiChallenge, Fantasy, PoC, SciFi, SciFi Challenge, SpeculativeFiction

Diversify Your Reading

 Teresa at Shelf Love has come up with a brilliant idea to help all of us find and read more books by underrepresented authors from all over the world.   Here is what she says about it.

Diversify Your Reading is a blog that will catalog reviews of books by underrepresented authors. Bloggers can contribute links to their reviews in the comments sections of relevant posts (organized by nationality, ethnic group, sexuality, and more), and the site editors (currently me, Jenny, Eva, and Nymeth—although we’d love more help) will add those reviews to the posts as time allows. Thanks to RSS feeds and options to subscribe to comments by e-mail, interested readers can have review links sent to them as they are added to the comments.

Please visit, add your reviews and take advantage of this wonderful resource.

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Filed under PoC, Politics

Whitewashing and Racism

There are many brilliant people out there who have written about the discrepancy between stories, characters and the covers of books.  If you are at all interested please visit Susan, Ari, Vasilly and Colleen for a rundown of the  latest event with Bloombury.  There are demands for responses from publishers, calls for a boycott and  for people to wake up, take a look around and admit that we are not as “color blind” as we would like to believe we are.

I always feel clumsy and stupid chiming in on this type of discussion. I come from privilege. I am a white women, I grew up in a middle class home,  I have had the advantages of privilege all my life.  Because of this I have made some choices about how to live my life and I am happy with them.  I am tired of people saying all kinds of things, coming up with all kinds of excuses and dancing around their own complacency and complicity.

Want to do something?  Read books by and about People of Color. Review them.  Get the word out.


Filed under Blogs, Frustration