I've gotten a lot behind with this challenge. I took on another big reading challenge, and I just haven't been reading a lot of books apart from that. Nevertheless, here are the books by authors of colour I've read so far this year:
34. Marjorie M Liu, The Red Heart of Jade
35. Marjorie M Liu, Eye of Heaven
36. Marjorie M Liu, Soul Song
37. Marjorie M Liu, The Last Twilight
They're Marjorie Liu. You will either like them all or dislike them all. I like them, although I have to admit, they were more fun when I didn't know as much about the overarching backstory. Best read in order.
38. Tayeb Salih, Season of Migration to the North
This book is, or should be, a classic. It is also depressing and distressing. Some of the details are autobiographical: like both the protagonist and antagonist, Tayeb Salih was born in Sudan and studied in England. I just looked up Wikipedia and discovered that he died last year, aged 80.
This book is about the allegedly corrupting influence of African men on English women, and the actually corrosive effect of colonisation on African men. It is also about the choices of African women (the effects of colonisation on African women in the novel are left for the reader to draw her own conclusions.) It is about the gulf between London society and life in rural Sudan. It is about Othello.
My favourite character is Bint Majzoub, a seventy-year-old woman who swears like the men and has a hearty appreciation of sex. She is one of two female characters in the novel; the other is Hosna Bint Mahmoud. Bint Majzoub is in a complicated position where by accepting the strictures of her society, she has survived to a stage where to some extent she can rise above them. Hosna, by contrast, is in an impossible situation and sees only one way out. It is very clear that the freedom open to the protagonist, to seize control of his own life, is not open to Hosna; she has only one way to take control.
The gender politics of Season of Migration to the North
are complex. There are many female characters, white and black, but they never talk to each other, and a conspicuous absence is the narrator's wife, mentioned but never described or heard of.
39. Harriet E. Wilson, Our NigOur Nig
was the first book by an African American author to be published on the American continent (the first known book to be published by an African American author was first known novel by an African American was William Wells Brown's Clotel; or, The President's Daughter
is about indentured servitude in the northern United States. It was first published in 1859. There is a free online copy here
This very short novel brought home to me once and for all the difference between a book about
and a book by
a person of colour. Frado, the main character, is oppressed constantly. She herself hates God for making her Black. But her agency is never absent. In no part of the book is she a passive victim. Whether mental or physical, her resistance never flags.
tags: author: liu marjorie m, author: salih tayeb, author: wilson harriet, african-american, african, asian-american