Celebrate Diverse Voices

By Barbara Bellesi Zito

We read for entertainment, and we read to learn.Reading about the lives and experiences of others is one of the best ways to learn about each other. This issue’s book selections reflect our vibrant and diverse world.

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AMPLIFYING BLACK VOICES

“Black lives are not a problem to be solved or an academic text that can be studied. To recognize Black lives as ones to celebrate, empathize with and care about, here’s your antiracism work: read more fiction by and about Black people.”– Jasmine Guillory

Here are some great novels by Black authors to add to your reading list:

SUCH A FUN AGE

KILEY REID

G.P. Putnam’s Sons

This is Reid’s debut, which was long-listed for the Booker Prize for Fiction.

Emira Tucker is a 25-year-old African-American woman living in Philadelphia, wading through life in the years after college and making ends meet as a typist and a babysitter.While out with one of her charges—who happens to be white—Emira is falsely accused of kidnapping.In an attempt to rectify matters, Alix, the toddler’s mom, attempts to befriend Emira, taking her on asa “project.” As the women’s lives intertwine, Emira begins to wonder if Alix is working toward Emira’s best interests or her own. Reid’s novel is a provocative story that touches on some tough questions regarding race, parenting, and morality.

DEACON KING KONG

JAMES MCBRIDE

Riverhead Books

McBride won the National Book award for “The Good Lord Bird”.

It is 1969. A church deacon by the name of Sportcoat has just shot a drug dealer in a South Brooklyn housing project. The events that unfold tell the intersecting stories of various neighborhood figures, including the African-American and Latino witnesses, the police officers on the case, members of Sportcoat’s congregation, some local mobsters, the victim himself, and of course, Sportcoat. This book is a story of being fearless in the face of change and what it means to have faith and show compassion.

IT’S NOT ALL DOWNHILL FROM HERE

TERRY MCMILLAN

Ballantine Book

McMillan is the author of multiple best sellers, including the iconic “Waiting to Exhale” and“How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” both of which became hit movies.

At 68, Loretha Curry doesn’t feel old or bored. In fact, the owner of a successful beauty supply empire has a rather exciting life with lots of friends and a husband she loves.She thinks her best years are still ahead of her.But when a sudden loss threatens to slow her down, Loretha will have to rely on her friends and her inner strength to heal and move on.

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT

Manic Mornings for Mom

BELLA’s own Lauren Vena has been a professional makeup artist for 20 years. That means she’s looking red-carpet ready at breakfast every morning, right? Um, not exactly. It’s far less glamorous—especially when bare feet and Legos are involved. That’s why she wrote the fun children’s book, “My Mom…The Best Mom Ever.” Told from the point of view of her children, Lauren’s story sets out to affirm that while hard-working mamas might be holding on by a thread, they are absolute rock stars in the eyes of their children.

ON CONFIDENCE: “Makeup is not worn to hide or to make you look like someone else. It’s to enhance your natural beauty. It’s OK to sometimes not wear any makeup at all. And it’s OK to feel comfortable in your own skin.”

BEAUTY

CHRISTINA CHIU

Santa Fe Writer’s Project

Amy Wong is on the rise as a designer in the competitive New York fashion world. As she battles bias and chauvinism in the industry to become the level of designer to which she aspires, she also struggles in her personal life to be the wife and mother her traditional family expects her to be. Amy finds that she must break through all the constraints so that she can become the woman she most wants to be.

ON LIVING LIFE ON YOUR OWN TERMS: “If you are unhappy or feel frustrated, stop—and like Amy—ask yourself what beliefs about yourself are holding you back. Maya Angelou spoke about the caged bird. Beliefs you have about yourself can belike bars. You may not see them but they are there, holding you back. Break free.”

THE BEST OF THE BEST

You know the cliché, “It’s an honor just to be nominated”? Well, if you’re talking about the Booker Prize for Fiction, it truly is. The honor bills itself as “the leading literary award in the English-speaking world” and is reserved for the best novel of the year that is published in the UK or Ireland, though it is not limited to the novelists of those countries—you’ll see some American authors on this year’s list.

The competition’s winners are announced in three parts: the long list, the short list, and finally the winner. It’s a really big deal to have your novel be included on the long list—Brandon Taylor’s reaction on Twitter to the news that his “Real Life” was among the books was pretty epic.

Here’s the Long-Listed Authors, announced in July:

REAL LIFE BY BRANDON TAYLOR

THE NEW WILDERNESS BY DIANE COOK

THIS MOURNABLE BODY BY TSITSI DANAREMBGA

BURNT SUGAR BY AVNI DOSHI

WHO THEY WAS BY GABRIEL KRAUZE

THE MIRROR & THE LIGHT BY HILARY MANTEL

 

REDHEAD BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD BY ANNE TYLER

APEIROGON BY COLUM MCCANN

THE SHADOW KING BY MAAZA MENGISTE

SUCH A FUN AGE BY KILEY REID

SHUGGIE BAIN BY DOUGLAS STUART

LOVE AND OTHER THOUGHT EXPERIMENTS BY SOPHIE WARD

HOW MUCH OF THESE HILLS IS GOLD BY C PAM ZHANG

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