While “diversity” is in many ways a subjective concept, it is difficult to argue that there are an infinitely wide variety of unique human experiences. As our collective interconnected worldview expands, so does our awareness of the existence of people other than ourselves. With a focus on race, origin, sexuality, 2017 has so far shown a plethora of diversity-minded literary releases. We can hardly expect to change the world simply by curling up on the couch with an open-minded book. However, reading up can be considered a solid first step.
Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the following titles:
The Refugees – Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press, Feb. 2017)
Nguyen already has the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction under his belt, for his lauded work The Sympathizer. Once again, Nguyen has painted a shining portrait of the “immigrant experience”. Nguyen, originally from Vietnam, writes of a series Vietnamese refugees coming to America in his newest collection of fictional short stories. With a focus on themes of memory, identity, and loss, Nguyen explores the woes of a globalizing world. In a time of American values in flux, this title is an important, humanizing reminder of what it means to be an outsider.
The End of Eddy – Édouard Louis (Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux, May 2017)
Louis writes an unabashedly personal account of his childhood in the form of an autobiographical novel. On the foundation of his own very real experiences, Louis describes coming to terms with his sexuality in face of the homophobia and brutality of a small-scale working town in the north of France. Questioning what it means to “fit in”, Louis presents a work that is as universal as it is personal. The End of Eddy has already been translated into 20 languages, indicating at its wide-scale relevance and applicability.
There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé – Morgan Parker (Tin House Books, Feb. 2017)
Parker’s newest collection of poems is a lyrical ode to her state as an intersection of minorities. Parker outlines the experiences of an African American woman of color in a world that is constantly working to undermine her sense of self. Through use of contemporary political references and nods to pop-culture, Parker’s poems become of painful contemporary relevance. With an easily digestible prose, Parker’s sharp anger and simple truths have the potential to truly speak to the modern reader. It’s little wonder that Parker has previously been featured in a series of high-profile cultural publications.
Exit West – Mohsin Hamid (Riverhead Books, Mar. 2017)
Man-Booker shortlisted author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist Hamid strikes again – his newest release is much anticipated on the literary scene. One part love story, one part social commentary, Exit West follows a young couple on their escape from an unnamed city on the brink of civil war. In considering the unpredictable senselessness of a volatile modern world, Hamid touches on issues of self-identification, rejection, and perseverance in a story that echoes that of countless others. With a poignant ability to point out the plights of the “immigrant experience”, Hamid presents a text of immediate importance.
Noga Amiri, Class of 2018, is a literature and art history major from Hilversum, the Netherlands.