August 28, 2014
Five Books: Minority Views

IMAG1641aHispanic Heritage Month is coming up soon (Sept. 15 to Oct. 15), and Novel Conversations is pleased to offer books related to this cultural strand, along with others in the American tapestry. For example:

THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET – In this series of vignettes, Sandra Cisneros presents Esperanza Cordero, a girl growing up in a Latino neighborhood of Chicago. The book reflects her thoughts, ideas and aspirations, as well as her view of the environment around her. Somewhat stream of consciousness in style, the novel is poetic and evocative yet the reader can put together a rich description of the street life and people in Esperanza’s world.

THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO – Moving from a young girl’s experience to a young boy’s, we next turn to Junot Diaz’s famous first novel. This view of a New Jersey family from the Dominican Republic has won numerous awards, including the 2008 Pulitzer Prize. Oscar Wao works hard to overcome all the typical disadvantages of a nerdy, unpopular adolescent while coping with a longstanding curse on his family. Diaz is a robust, contemporary voice for a lesser-known Latino community.

HOUSE MADE OF DAWN – N. Scott Momaday’s novel, published in the 1960s and another Pulitzer Prize winner, helped lead the way for many modern Native American writers. The story revolves around Abel, a WWII veteran, his grandfather Francisco and their land and people in New Mexico. Myths and traditions are interwoven with Abel’s path away from and back to the reservation.

THE NAMESAKE – There is a lot to choose from in Asian American literature, but one author who has captured the experience of immigration in the 21st century is Jhumpa Lahiri. As The Namesake opens, the Gangulis have arrived from Calcutta to start a new life and family in Boston. Like so many American-born children of immigrants before him, their son Gogol will learn to navigate between his own experience and that of his Bengali parents and their close-knit community. Novel Conversations also has copies of Lahiri’s short story collection, Interpreter of Maladies.

ANATHEMA – Asked to name a minority group, Hoosiers in rural Indiana often say “Amish.” The heroine of Colleen Coble’s novel Anathema is a young Amish woman from northern Indiana who is struggling with her beliefs and her feelings. She is also caught in a murder mystery around the killing of her family. A prolific author of inspirational fiction, Coble is a favorite of many Novel Conversations groups. The Lightkeeper’s Daughter, from her Mercy Falls series, is also in our collection.

In addition to these and similar titles, Novel Conversations has numerous books of fiction and nonfiction about the African American experience, including three by Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison.  We will feature some of those selections in a future Five Books blog.

This post was written by Nancy Conner, director of grants and Novel Conversations.

Posted In: Books