At the bookclub we have had to look for books written by women, seeing that most of the books we read were written by men, which responds to the actual publishing situation. We also had to find books set in Australia, as we wanted to be diverse. Though, we never had to find this diversity in race as, almost from the beginning, we have read books that deal a lot about race.
Last month at BookClubTDB we read Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a book that deals a lot about race and racism, and gave us concepts we didn’t know before. It is not the first time we read about race and it is not the first time that we read about the clash of cultures. With these books, we have learned a lot about other peoples’ points of view. To literature, we are thankful.
Here is a list of books that deal, in some way or other, with race or culture contrasts (in chronological order of club):
- The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles, somewhere in Northen Africa, presumably Western Sahara.
- A Passage to India by EM Forster, clash of Indian and British culture.
- Memoirs of a Gheisha by Arthur Golden, not particularly race-oriented, but talks about Japanese culture.
- July’s People by Nadine Gordimer, a must, South-Africa, Apartheid.
- The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers, being black in deep America in the early part of the 20th Century.
- White Teeth by Zadie Smith, being of Indian descent in England. Also a bit about religion.
- The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, being of Chinese descent in America.
- Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, being Jewish in Eastern Europe.
- Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene. Not race-oriented but set in Cuba.
- Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, India during partition.
- Norwegian Wood and Colorless Tsukuro Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami, not race-oriented but Japanese.
- The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, India.
- A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, war in Afghanistan.
- The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, not race-oriented but set in Cuba.
- The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, India, can seem only a fable, but it can be read deeper.
- The Pearl by John Steinbeck, not race-oriented but set in Cuba.
- The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway, war provoked by racism, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- The No. 1 Ladie’s Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith, written by a white person, about Zimbabwean female detective.
- The Moonstone by Willkie Collins, India.
- The Childhood of Jesus by JM Coetzee, somewhere in an Spanish speaking country.
- The Secret Lives of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, being black in the US.
- Maps for Lost Lovers by Nadeem Aslam, Pakistanis in England.
- Life of Pi by Yann Martel, not at all race-oriented but Indian.
- To Kill a Mockingbird and the sequel Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, a must about racism in America.
- Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, about colonialism in Africa.
- The Angel Esmeralda by Don DeLillo, short story collection, some of them deal with Latinos in America.
- A Mercy by Toni Morrison, being black in America. Set in the past but it can be read as if it were the present.
- The Vegetarian by Han Kang, not race-oriented but it is Korean.
- The Secret River by Kate Grenville, conflicts between Australian Aborigines and the “new owners”.
- Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie, different countries, including India and Japan.
- Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton, American of Cuban descent visiting Cuba.
- Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, not race-oriented but some clash of cultures.
- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, about being non American black in America.
This list tries to show some of the books that we have read that deal with cultures or races. We have read many other books that deal with racism (including WWII) and clash of cultures, but these are the most relevant.
Be diverse in your choice of books, be diverse in your choice of thoughts.