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My List of Suggested Books, Reading Global Women of Color, 2014

January 28, 2014


Reading Global Women of Color, 2014

My List of Suggested Books

I am thrilled with the recent surge of interest in women writers in response to #readingwomen2014, but I am also a bit uneasy.  I fear that readers will only turn to books by white women, when so many books by women of color deserve to be read and enjoyed.  They can be an important step toward understanding women all over the globe.  So I have come up with my own list.  I tried to follow the book-a month format, but I couldn’t restrain myself.

My list only includes fictional books that I have read and reviewed.  (Links are to my reviews.)  It is honestly eclectic, but I have tried to provide breath and diversity rather than just name favorites.  Yet I realize what gaps there in my list and my reading.

PLEASE HELP ME FILL IN THE GAPS with lists or books you have read.  I plan to create a page on GLOBAL WOMEN OF COLOR but I need suggestions. You can suggest individual books or your own lists of recommendations.  I’d particularly love to have suggestions for “Reading African Women, 2014” or from the Far East or Latin America or any place whose women writers you know and love.



Changes, by Ama Ata Aidoo.  An insightful novel from Ghana about what is changing and not changing as women entering professions face demands to sacrifice themselves for the sake of their husbands.  By one of the writers who has helped promote a women’s perspective on Africa.

Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. A moving novel about fear, loss, and survival in Biafra’s unsuccessful struggle for independence from Nigeria in the 1960s, by a leading Nigerian writer today.

 Ghana Must Go, by Taiye Selasi. A beautiful, lyrical novel about a family of African migrants striving for success and never being successful enough. Like Adichie’s fine Americanah, it is more internationally focused than early books.


The Swan Book, by Alexis Wright.    Another brilliant  speculative novel by a talented Indigenous Australian who writes about belonging and what it means, to Indigenous people and all of us, to have and to lose a homeland.


Sister of my Heart, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni,   A wise novel in which two young women, raised “like sisters” in Calcutta, find that marriages and pregnancies call on them to make choices between competing loves.


Evening is the Whole Day, by Preeta Samrasan  An intricate novel about a family of Indian descent in post-colonial Malaysia; a family, like their country, full of secrets, anger and long-held resentments.

Please Look After Mother, by Kyung-Sook Shin An innovative novel about a Korean family’s memories and responses when the mother disappears.

FishHair Woman, by Merlinda Bobbis  A lyrical speculative novel about politics and war in the Philippines, about parents and children and siblings, about the past and whether or not we can ever escape it, about history and memory, and about finding joy in the face of pain.


Women Without Men: A Novel of Modern Iran, by Shahrnush Parsipur. An exquisite fable by an Iranian woman combining the magic of Arabian Nights with the stories of five women who temporarily escape the rigid control of men to live together in a garden.

Persian Requiem, by Simin Daneshvar. A moving Iranian novel set during World War II and centered on a wife and mother struggling with competing loyalties. Written in 1969, it provides insight into the diversity and conflicts that have long existed in that country.


Prospero’s Daughter, by Elizabeth Nunez.  A Caribbean novel, modeled on Shakespeare’s play, exploring the impact of colonization on people’s relationships with each other. Set in Trinidad shortly before its independence.


Cutting Season, by Attica Locke  A suspense-filled mystery, a tender account of mother-daughter relations, and a “meditation” on how we deal with our personal and societal past—an African American woman from Louisiana.

 Round House, by Louise Erdrich.  One of the most powerful of Erdrich’s novels about life on the Ojibwe reservation explores a teenage boy’s reaction to his mother’s vicious rape.

 Carmelo, by Sandra Cisneros.  A delightful novel about four generations of a Mexican American family, living in Chicago, Texas, and Mexico, a girl’s journey into womanhood and much more.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. January 28, 2014 2:51 pm

    I’ve only read a couple of these, but most of the rest are on my to-read list!

    • January 29, 2014 9:51 am

      I am not surprised! That’s what I saw with your list. Although you gave me a couple of new books that I had missed somehow.

  2. January 28, 2014 4:54 pm

    No Violet Bulawayo’s “We Need New Names” was shortlisted for the Man Booker last year. Born in South Africa she now lives and works in USA and London. I’d also suggest “Carpentaria” by Alexis Wright, the novel she wrote before “The Swan Book” and which also deals with the shameful way Australia’s indigenous population was treated by white settlers. The first novel to receive acclaim by an Aboriginal woman in the early 80s was Sally Morgan’s “My Place”. And Adichie’s newest novel, “Americanah” is also worth noting.

    • January 29, 2014 9:46 am

      Thanks for the suggestions. I have “We need new names” on my wishlist. I keep hearing about how good it is. I have also read and enjoyed “My Place,” “Carpentaria,” and “Americanah.” They simply squeezed out when I was trying to compile a short global list but I decided to only list one book per author.

  3. January 28, 2014 9:28 pm

    Two books written by Maori women from New Zealand that I would recommend are The Bone People by Keri Hulme and Dogside Story by Patricia Grace. I second the recommendation by Dina Ross of Sally Morgan’s My Place and No Violet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names.

  4. January 29, 2014 9:48 am

    Thanks. I have only read one book by a Maori women and am glad to have some more suggestions.

  5. January 30, 2014 5:29 am

    Great list, Marilyn though I have read only the first two. I need to broaden my horizon.

  6. January 31, 2014 11:32 am

    FishHair Woman sounds really good. I’ve read very little fiction set in the Philippines–must remedy that!

    • February 1, 2014 9:06 am

      Good. It was good; somewhat experimental and speculative, but always understandable.

  7. February 2, 2014 8:36 am

    Love your list. I really want to read more Australian literature especially books by women. Enjoy!

    • February 2, 2014 9:42 am

      I’d say start with Alexis Wright The Swan Book or Carpentaria, the most “literary” of the books by Australian Indigenous women. Interesting to compare/contrast with African experience and writing.

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