#AsianLitBingo TBR

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Created by Shenwei at READING (AS)(I)AM (AM)ERICA and co-hosted by Asian bloggers, #AsianLitBingo is a month-long reading challenge. The goal is to spotlight Asian literature and writers, preferably #ownvoices, and it’s sorely needed. Read up on all the specifics and requirements here!

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Gorgeous art by Aentee at Read at Midnight

I’ve already got a ton of new-to-me works for my tbr thanks to the hosts’ list and twitter, but I did my best to decide on a tbr. Choosing a line for the bingo was so hard! Anyway here’s what I hope I’ll manage to read:

starfang

Starfang: Rise of the Clan by Joyce Chng  gr-pic

Joyce’s newest for SFF with an Asian MC. It’s a space opera with werewolves! Will add specifics re ethnicity if I find out, the author is Singaporean.

body at the tower

The Agency: The Body at the Tower by Y. S. Lee  gr-pic

I’ve read the first Agency novel in my quest to find more diverse mysteries and enjoyed it. Set in Victorian England with a multiracial Asian MC (Chinese father I think) for fans of the era but with more diversity and less celebration of empire. For Historical Fiction with Asian MC. The author is Singaporean-Canadian.

FREE SPACE

I’m not sure yet which one I want to read for this square, but I’m a total mood reader so it’s good to have options. I got these here waiting to be read, and I might go with more queer lit and/or more SFF.

when fox

When Fox is a Thousand by Larissa Lai  gr-pic

For retelling with Asian MC, I’m planning on reading this retelling of the myth of the fox. Think this has a Chinese-Canadian MC and a Chinese MC as well as a lesbian relationship.

inheritance

The Inheritance by Sahar Khalifeh  gr-pic

For Contemporary with Asian MC, I’m planning on reading The Inheritance, about Zeynab and Palestinian women’s stories of return to Palestine after the Oslo Accords. MC is Palestinian, the author is Palestinian-American.

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Are you participating in #AsianLitBingo? What’s on your tbr?

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Diversity & Nonfiction: Writers of Color as Experts

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So here’s something I’ve been mulling over recently:

Where are the writers of color in non-fiction?

Sure, you might argue that there’s a lot of nonfiction available written by people of color, just look at Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me and Between the World and Me or Just Mercy. These works are – very deservedly getting attention and accolades. However, they are narrative non-fiction and memoirs or works about race and racial justice. And because there is always someone: I love such works and I do not want to take away from these achievements at all, I am simply trying to make different point. Suffice it to say, that ‘the personal is political’ applies to people of color, too, and what is more, other less rigid genres and non-Western formats might work better for the things we want to say.

Thinking about the non-fiction I tend to read, two things stand out: One, I focus on social justice works written by women and people of color, and two, when I read other non-fiction (bees, Monsanto, dinosaurs) the authors are almost exclusively white. So let me  rephrase my earlier question: What is the place of writers of color in non-fiction?

People of color have claimed the right to be experts on our own experiences and the fight has been long and is not over by a long shot. In literary fiction, this right is being re-claimed again and again under the hashtag #ownvoices. In non-fiction (including  academic texts), there is excellent work being done in nearly all disciplines, demonstrating the intersection of for example food justice and racial justice or architecture and racism. But we can also see plenty of cases like white scholars putting together research groups on Blackness without any Black people or white ethnologists producing the narrative on Black urban communities.

There are plenty of reasons for people of color to write about issues of race, we want to tell our own stories and we need to be there and fill these roles of authority. Looking at the work being done in non-fiction by and about people of color is such a joy! But another aspect is, are we allowed to be experts on anything else? Will we ever be allowed to be experts on the human condition? On ballet or on the planetary system?

We have had this debate about women writers (and it keeps popping up), and all campaigns to shove white men off the expert throne are very welcome, but stopping at this point reproduces the same tired old power relations that work to keep marginalized voices out of positions of authority. And non-fiction is about authority, oftentimes taking on the mantle of logic, rationality and facts that present us with the ‘master’ narrative. We cannot leave this up to those ensuring our oppression! So what would hopefully be the benefits of diversifying by having nonfiction writers of color writing not on issues of race: Sharing in the building of archives of knowledge, demonstration of our humanity and complexity – we contain multitudes, prevention of for example biologically essentialist science (at least as the truth).

I’ve put together a list of six titles by writers of color writing about space, pandemics nd business. It’s an attempt at finding diverse authors in nonfiction by focusing on mostly US (and not generally Chinese, or Indian authors, because PoC is not the same as non-white) scholars and scientists of color, but of course we need to highlight other voices as well. Sometimes, it’s a bit more difficult to find out how authors identify, but hopefully I will find time soon to do this, or perhaps one of you will give it a try?

Tyson-death by black hole

Death by Black Hole (Neil deGrasse Tyson)

shah_pandemic

Pandemic (Sonia Shah)

(recommended by Jenny)

The Gene

The Gene (Siddhartha Mukherjee)

Liquidated-Ho

Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street (Karen Ho)

Khan- next pandemic

The Next Pandemic: On the Front Lines Against Humankind’s Gravest Dangers (Ali S. Khan)

Khan-Adapt

Adapt: How Humans are Tapping into Nature’s Secrets to Design and Build a Better Future (Amina Khan) – Will be out April 2017 from St Martin’s Press

chu songbird

Songbird Journeys: Four Seasons in the Lives of Migratory Birds (Miyoko Chu)

(recommended by Debi)

cosmopolites

The Cosmopolites: The Coming of the Global Citizen (Atossa Araxia Abrahamian)

(recommended by Sharlene)

michio kaku future of the mind

The Future of the Mind (Michio Kaku)

(recommended by Naz and Vishy)

connectome

Connectome: How the Brain’s Wiring Makes us Who We Are (Sebastian Seung)

emerging mind

The Emerging Mind (Vilayanur Ramachandran)

gathering moss

Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Moss ( Robin Wall Kimmerer)

(recommended by Stefanie)

What are your thoughts on writers of color in non-fiction? Do you have any titles to add?

Building an Archive: The #DiverseBookBloggers Directory

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More exciting #DiverseBookBloggers news: We now have a directory up and running! It’s still a work in progress but please stop by and if you’re a diverse book blogger make sure to add your blog! And send me a photo of your header for example if you’d like one included. Also, we have badges! Stop by and make sure to grab one for your blog/space and link back to the directory. There’s also an “I support”- badge for allies, we’d appreciate the support and spreading of the word 🙂

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There’s a resource page, where we list book lists by bloggers that highlight for example Mexican-American authors or Chican@ Speculative Fiction etc. Please let me know if you have created such a list on your blog, we’d love to add it to the directory! An index page with categories for easier navigation will be up soon.

The directory will hopefully function as an archive and a resource for bloggers, authors and publishers. We’d like to make an impact collectively! So please stop by, browse, add your blog and follow us! I’m admin, so feel free to contact me with any concerns and questions you might have.

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In other #DiverseBookBloggers news, Whitney at Brown Books & Green Tea has started a fantastic new feature in which she will spotlight diverse book bloggers. She was kind enough to ask me to start things off and asked me some tough questions. Thanks so much, Whitney! So if you’re still not tired of hearing from me, make sure to read what I had to say here. And make sure to follow her for smart and in-depth reviews of diverse books!

What’s the last diverse book you read? Let me know in the comments!