Today, the bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish have asked us to list top ten books that feature diverse characters.
When I first saw the topic for this week, I thought I’d totally nailed it, and that I would be able to finish this tag within minutes. However, I was quite dismayed when I saw the final list. It doesn’t seem as diverse as I thought.
- Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides: Cal was one of the most different from me characters that I have ever read about. He/she is a trans who goes through a sex change and then finds love. I loved this book, but I also have to admit that it was difficult engaging with a character who was so different.
- Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami: Sumire is a young Japanese woman who falls in love with an ethnic Korean woman Miu who is seventeen years older to her. This was probably the first book I read with a strong lesbian theme. But this book is more than just a love story. It’s a story about loneliness, and fitting in, and yes, parallel words. I didn’t understand all of it at the time I read it, but I have to say Sumire is a strikingly diverse character who has stayed in my mind for the longest time.
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini – It feels odd to label such a popular bestseller as diverse. But, before this book came out, I don’t think I had read any book set in Afghanistan. Never. And now, thanks to Hosseini’s brilliant success, I have now read three.
- The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes – I don’t know if I can call this diverse. But Wanda Petronska – a Polish child goes to school in an All-American school. She is mocked for her name, her lack of clothes, and her poverty. I think it is such a powerful anti-bullying book, and have recommended it strongly to Snubnose. She just completed this book, and loves it too.
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison – Any book by Morrison would fall into this category, but I especially felt for poor Pecola in the The Bluest Eye. She is under the impression that all her problems will go away if only she gets blue eyes. Very powerful novel that makes you think about how stereotypes of beauty can hurt minority sentiments.
- Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende – This is the only book I’ve read of hers. I can’t think why as it was such a lovely book. Historical fiction about a young Chilean girl who disguises herself as a boy, runs away to San Francisco and falls in love with a Chinese immigrant.
- One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – This book set in the mythical town of Macondo in Colombia and chronicling hundred years of life in the Buendia family. I loved this book for the magical realism and Marquez beautiful writing.
- Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achembe – A post-colonial book set in Nigeria, this was probably the first book I read that was based in Africa. It’s also the most powerful – depicting the impact of colonialism on the native people. What I like is that it shows both the positive and negative effects of colonialism. It’s a shame that I never read its sequel – No Longer at Ease.
- On Beauty by Zadie Smith – I liked this novel of a bi-racial, atheist, and liberal family – the Belseys, and their friendship with a conservative family – the Kipps. I found the clash of ideologies between all the characters and their smug self-belief rather fascinating.
- A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R.Martin – Such a huge series is bound to have diverse characters, right? And there were so many, I can’t think to count. Missandei, Greyworm, Renly, Oberyn, there are just too many to count.
So, I have come up with a top ten list, after all. But when I think of just how many books are out there, and how few of the books I have actually read, and how far back most of them were, I can’t help feeling glum. So many of my favorite diverse books I read at least a decade ago. How come my diversity count has actually dropped off? And wasn’t blogging supposed to help me find and read more diverse books?
What are your top ten books with diverse characters?