Manila, Philippines – As a reader, one of the best parts of reading more books is being able to broaden your view of the world through various literary voices. But how varied are the literary voices we have access to?
For years the voice of the white male has control the publishing industry – from the era of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, to JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis, to Stephen Chbosky and John Green. Fortunately, women have work their entry into the world of publishing, with female authors captivating majority of the fiction industry.
However, even with the increase in the number of female authors, research suggests that it is still predominantly white voices that dominate the editorial sphere. In fact, in 2020, only 22 of the 220 books on the New York Times The bestseller list was written by people of color.
What have been the most acclaimed, groundbreaking novels and series written by women in the last 10 years (think Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Twilight, Divergent) have in common? All are written by white women. As much as the rise of women’s voices in literature is worth celebrating, the publishing industry must make strides in bringing minority voices to light.
Fortunately, books written by Black, Indigenous and Women of Color (BIPOC) have slowly gained more and more mainstream media coverage, giving readers increased access and exposure to marginalized realities.
This Women’s Month, support BIPOC authors by including some of these fiction and non-fiction reads in your never-ending to-read list. Maybe suggest it to a friend or two too!
In this poignant and captivating memoir, Korean-American author Michelle Zauner guides readers through her life as an Asian-American growing up in Eugene, Oregon, through the lens of the relationship she shared with her late mother to form and navigate her identity. In a cruel twist of fate, Zauner’s mother is diagnosed with terminal cancer, and readers get an intimate glimpse into Zauner’s grief, from the time they received his mother’s diagnosis until her passing. In dealing with her grief, Zauner finds solace in understanding her mother’s South Korean roots by preparing Korean food – with most of the native ingredients sourced from H Mart.
Cathy Park-Hong combines her own experiences and cultural critique in this series of essays that address the acts of discrimination that Asian Americans continually face but laugh at, which she categorizes as “minor feelings”. “. As Park-Hong comes to terms with her racial identity, she faces the grim reality of living in a country riddled with a history of white supremacy. In recounting the bits and pieces of her life, Park-Hong not only reiterates her personal story, but cries foul over the shared experience of Asian Americans.
Founding Editor of Condé Nast’s LGBTQ+ Publication their. and award-winning journalist Meredith Talusan bares her soul in a vulnerable memoir that chronicles her life in four parts – childhood, Harvard, romance and independence.
Born as an albino boy in the Philippines, Talusan recounts the unfolding of her story, from her early childhood with a devoted grandmother, to her migration to the United States and winning a college scholarship to Harvard, where she became both an activist and an artist. . Through her accomplishments in challenging gender boundaries, Talusan grew into a woman despite the possibility of losing a man she loved.
See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love by Valarie Kaur
With a world filled with so much fear, anger and destruction, civil rights lawyer, Sikh activist and filmmaker Valerie Kaur chooses revolutionary love – a love that extends to others, opponents and ourselves . Kaur calls us to see strangers as part of us we have yet to discover, evoking a set of wonders that serves as the foundation for creating a transformative global practice that begins in relationships and communities, that eventually ripples across cultures and hopefully even nations. Kaur draws on the principle of oneness based on radical love, which stems from her reflections on her own personal challenges as a woman, law student, and brunette girl in California.
manifesto by Bernardine Evaristo
After writing his best-selling and Booker Prize-winning historical novel girl, woman and otherBernardine Evaristo makes her non-fiction debut in manifesto. Evaristo gives an account of her vigorous and fearless life and career in which she fought for space by giving birth to her creative work in the world. As she reiterates her life story which includes founding Britain’s first black women’s theater company, exploring same-sex relationships and navigating society as the daughter of a Nigerian father and from a white Catholic mother, she found she was determined to become a literary voice that had been absent from the industry. manifesto serves as an encouragement to readers to keep fighting for what they believe in, despite everything and everyone telling them not to.
Everyone knows you’re coming home by Natalia Sylvester
Everyone knows you’re coming home is a story about the journey and redemption of Isabel’s stepfather, Omar, who had already died in present time. Isabel’s husband, Martin, is estranged from her father, having not forgiven him for his disappearance from her life. Although remaining invisible to everyone but Isabel, Omar returns every day from the dead to speak his truth. Using elements such as magical realism, the novel sheds light on discussions surrounding immigration, family division, security, death, love, and memory, among others. In many ways, Natalia Sylvester gives readers insight into the dynamics of a Mexican-American family and the depth of the challenges they go through.
Kim Jiyoung, born in 1982 follows the life of Kim Jiyoung, an average Korean living in Seoul. As the novel follows Jiyoung’s daily life from childhood to the present day, readers are exposed to the microaggressions that women face due to society’s double standards and unrealistic expectations. Having learned to stand still, be pretty, and accept whatever is thrown at you, Ji-young slowly loses herself little by little as she endures misogynistic behavior throughout her life. With heartbreaking simplicity and honesty, Cho Nam-joo creates a character so common yet so representative of the lives many women live in today’s society.
bride of the sea by Eman Quotah
bride of the sea is a story of calculation. In her debut novel, Eman Quotah creates a complex yet realistic world that sits between the cultures of Saudi Arabia and the United States. Hanadi, the child of Muneer and Saeedah who separated in childhood, is taken away by her mother, causing her father to search for his daughter for years. When Hanadi comes of age, she finds herself at the center of the division between parents and countries.
The novel tells the story of the collaboration between two women, Chiara and Magsalin, a Filipino translator and American filmmaker, who embark on a journey to create a film about a historical incident in Balangiga, Samar in 1901. Set in the Philippines by Duterte , insurrection shows the clash between the two women as they create two rival scenarios with different points of view on the Balangiga massacre, where 30,000 Filipinos were killed as a reward for killing 30 American soldiers. Through this novel, Apostol reappropriates the story of the atrocity in Balangiga by pushing the boundaries of the world of fiction.
In half evanescent, Bennett tells the story of the Vignes twin sisters, inseparable since birth. However, after running away from home at the age of 16, they both chose to live in radically different worlds – a sister lives with her black daughter in the same place she tried to escape, while the other is married to a white man who knows nothing of her past. Yet, by a twist of fate, their daughters’ lives intersect and the twin sisters are forced to revisit the role of the past in the identities they had developed. The novel is a thoughtful exploration of race, family, and relationships, with the use of elements from American history. – Rappler.com
Samantha Onglatco is an intern at Rappler in the Life & Style & Entertainment section.