Fiction

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The Famished Road
Okri, Ben. The Famished Road. Newburyport, MA: Open Road Media, 2016. eBook @ Harvard Library [Harvard Key required]
Fires on the Plain
Ooka, Shōhei. Fires on the Plain. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing, 2001. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
Review: "This haunting novel explores the complete degradation and isolation of a man by war. The book is set on the island of Leyte in the Philippines during World War II, where the Japanese army is disintegrating under the hammer blows of the American landings. Within this larger disintegration is another, that of a single human being, Private Tamura. The war destroys each of his ties to society, one by one, until Tamura, a sensitive and intelligent man, becomes an outcast... Nearly losing the will to survive, he hears of a port still in Japanese hands, and struggles to walk through the American lines. Unfazed by danger, he welcomes the prospect of dying, but first he loses his hope, and then his sanity. Lost among his hallucinations, Tamura comes to fancy himself an angel enjoined by God to eat no living thing - but even angels fall."-- Adapted from jacket.
There There
Orange, Tommy. There There. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2018. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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The book opens with an essay by Orange as a prologue, and then proceeds to follow a large cast of Native Americans living in the area of Oakland, CA, as they struggle with a wide array of challenges ranging from depression, alchoholism, unemployment, and the challenges of living with an ethnic identity of being ambiguously nonwhite. All coalesce at a community pow wow in Oakland.

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The Grass Dancer
Power, Susan. The Grass Dancer. New York: Putnam's, 1994. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
A multi-generational saga of the Sioux Indians, mixing magic and reality. Set in the Dakotas, it begins in the 1860s with the tragic romance of Ghost Horse, a sacred clown, and Red Dress, a woman warrior, whose spirits seek desperately to be reunited.
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Karma and Other Stories
Reddi, Rishi. Karma and Other Stories. New York: Harper Perennial, 2007. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"In this sparkling collection, award-winning writer Rishi Reddi weaves a multigenerational tapestry of interconnected lives, depicting members of an Indian American community struggling to balance the demands of tradition with the allure of Western life"–
A Student of History
Revoyr, Nina. A Student of History. New York: Akashic Books, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Rick Nagano is a graduate student in the history department at USC, struggling to make rent on his South Los Angeles apartment near the neighborhood where his family once lived. When he lands a job as a research assistant for the elderly Mrs. W--, the heir to an oil fortune, he sees it first simply as a source of extra cash. But as he grows closer to the iconoclastic, charming, and feisty Mrs. W--, he gets drawn into a world of privilege and wealth far different from his racially mixed, blue-collar beginnings. Putting aside his half-finished dissertation, Rick sets up office in Mrs. W--'s grand Bel Air mansion and begins to transcribe her journals - which document an old Los Angeles not described in his history books. He also accompanies Mrs. W-- to venues frequented by the descendants of the land and oil barons who built the city. One evening, at an event, he meets Fiona Morgan - the elegant scion of an old steel family - who takes an interest in his studies. Irresistibly drawn to Fiona, he agrees to help her with a project of questionable merit in the hopes he'll win her favor. A Student of History explores both the beginnings of Los Angeles and the present-day dynamics of race and class. It offers a window into the usually hidden world of high society, and the influence of historic families on current events. Like Great Expectations and The Great Gatsby, it features, in Rick Nagano, a young man of modest means who is navigating a world where he doesn't belong." (from dust jacket)
Mother Country
Reyn, Irina. Mother Country. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
Nadia's daily life in south Brooklyn is filled with small indignities: as a senior home attendant, she is always in danger of being fired; as a part-time nanny, she is forced to navigate the demands of her spoiled charge and the preschooler's insecure mother; and as an ethnic Russian, she finds herself feuding with western Ukrainian immigrants who think she is a traitor. The war back home is always at the forefront of her reality. On television, Vladimir Putin speaks of the "reunification" of Crimea and Russia, the Ukrainian president makes unconvincing promises about a united Ukraine, while American politicians are divided over the fear of immigration. Nadia internalizes notions of "union" all around her, but the one reunion she has been waiting six years for - with her beloved daughter - is being eternally delayed by the Department of Homeland Security. When Nadia finds out that her daughter has lost access to the medicine she needs to survive, she takes matters into her own hands. -- from Amazon.com
The Ministry of Utmost Happiness
Roy, Arundhati. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. New York: Vintage, 2018. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
An intimate journey of many years across the Indian subcontinent-- from the cramped neighborhoods of Old Delhi and the roads of the new city to the mountains and valleys of Kashmir and beyond, where war is peace and peace is war. The tale begins with Anjum-- who used to be Aftab-- unrolling a threadbare Persian carpet in a city graveyard she calls home. We encounter the odd Tilo and the men who loved her-- including Musa, sweetheart and ex-sweetheart, lover and ex-lover. Their fates are as entwined as their arms used to be and always will be. We meet Tilo's landlord, a former suitor, now an intelligence officer posted to Kabul. And then we meet the two Miss Jebeens: the first a child born in Srinagar and buried in its overcrowded Martyrs' Graveyard; the second found at midnight, abandoned on a concrete sidewalk in the heart of New Delhi. "An epic novel of love and history and the perseverance of the human spirit in the face of loss and tragedy" -- Provided by publisher.
The God of Small Things
Roy, Arundhati. The God of Small Things. Random House reader's circle. Random House Trade paperbacks edition. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2008. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
In 1969 in Kerala, India, Rahel and her twin brother, Estha, struggle to forge a childhood for themselves amid the destruction of their family life, as they discover that the entire world can be transformed in a single moment
We Cast a Shadow
Ruffin, Maurice Carlos. We Cast a Shadow. New York: One World, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"In a near-future Southern city, everyone is talking about a new experimental medical procedure that boasts unprecedented success rates. In a society plagued by racism, segregation, and private prisons, this operation saves lives with a controversial method–by turning people white. Like any father, our unnamed narrator just wants the best for his son Nigel, a biracial boy whose black birthmark is getting bigger by the day. But in order to afford Nigel's whiteness operation, our narrator must make partner as one of the few black associates at his law firm, jumping through a series of increasingly absurd hoops–from diversity committees to plantation tours to equality activist groups–in a tragicomic quest to protect his son. This electrifying, suspenseful novel is, at once, a razor-sharp satire of surviving racism in America and a profoundly moving family story. In the tradition ofRalph Ellison's Invisible Man, We Cast a Shadow fearlessly shines a light on the violence we inherit, and on the desperate things we do for the ones we love"–
A Woman is No Man
Rum, Etaf. A Woman is No Man. New York: Harper, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Palestine, 1990. Seventeen-year-old Isra prefers reading books to entertaining the suitors her father has chosen for her. Over the course of a week, the naïve and dreamy girl finds herself quickly betrothed and married, and is soon living in Brooklyn. There Isra struggles to adapt to the expectations of her oppressive mother-in-law Fareeda and strange new husband Adam, a pressure that intensifies as she begins to have children – four daughters instead of the sons Fareeda tells Isra she must bear. Brooklyn, 2008. Eighteen-year-old Deya, Isra's oldest daughter, must meet with potential husbands at her grandmother Fareeda's insistence, though her only desire is to go to college. Deya can't help but wonder if her options would have been different had her parents survived the car crash that killed them when Deya was only eight. But her grandmother is firm on the matter: the only way to secure a worthy future for Deya is through marriage to the right man. But fate has a will of its own, and soon Deya will find herself on an unexpected path that leads her to shocking truths about her family – knowledge that will force her to question everything she thought she knew about her parents, the past, and her own future. Set in an America at once foreign to many and staggeringly close at hand, A Woman Is No Man is a story of culture and honor, secrets and betrayals, love and violence. It is an intimate glimpse into a controlling and closed cultural world, and a universal tale about family and the ways silence and shame can destroy those we have sworn to protect."–Publisher's description
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Season of Migration to the North
Salih, Tayeb. Season of Migration to the North. New York Review Books classics. New York: New York Review of Books, 2009. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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After years of study in Europe, the young narrator returns to his village along the Nile in the Sudan. It is the 1960s, and he is eager to make a contribution to the new postcolonial life of his country. Back home, he discovers a stranger among the familiar faces of childhood--the enigmatic Mustafa Sa'eed. Mustafa takes the young man into his confidence, telling him the story of his own years in London, of his brilliant career as an economist, and of the series of fraught and deadly relationships with European women that led to a terrible public reckoning and his return to his native land.

The World Doesn't Require You
Scott, Rion Amilcar. The World Doesn't Require You. New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"One of Esquire's Most Anticipated Books of 2019 Breathtakingly imaginative and unapologetically original, The World Doesn't Require You announces a bold, generational talent. Deftly spinning genres of his feverish literary invention, Rion Amilcar Scott creates his very own Yoknapatawpha County with fictional Cross River, Maryland. Established by the leaders of America's only successful slave revolt, the town still evokes the fierce rhythms of its founding. Among its residents are David Sherman, a struggling musician who just happens to be God's last son; Tyrone, a ruthless PhD candidate, whose dissertation about a childhood game ignites mayhem in the neighboring, once-segregated town of Port Yooga; and Jim, an all-too-obedient robot who serves his Master. Culminating with an explosive novella, these haunting stories of the denizens of Cross River serve to explore larger themes of religion, violence, and love–all told with sly humor and a dash of magical realism. Shattering rigid literary boundaries, Scott is "a necessary voice in American literature" (PEN Award citation), a writer whose storytelling gifts the world very much requires"–
Ground Zero, Nagasaki: Stories
Seirai, Yūichi. Ground Zero, Nagasaki: Stories. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"Set in contemporary Nagasaki, the six short stories in this collection draw a chilling portrait of the ongoing trauma of the detonation of the atomic bomb. Whether they experienced the destruction of the city directly or heard about it from survivors, the characters in these tales filter their pain and alienation through their Catholic faith, illuminating a side of Japanese culture little known in the West. Many of them are descended from the "hidden Christians" who continued to practice their religion in secret during the centuries when it was outlawed in Japan. Urakami Cathedral, the center of Japanese Christian life, stood at ground zero when the bomb fell.

In "Birds," a man in his sixties reflects on his life as a husband and father. Just a baby when he was found crying in the rubble near ground zero, he does not know who his parents were. His birthday is set as the day the bomb was dropped. In other stories, a woman is haunted by her brief affair with a married man, and the parents of a schizophrenic man struggle to come to terms with the murder their son committed. These characters battle with guilt, shame, loss, love, and the limits of human understanding. Ground Zero, Nagasaki vividly depicts a city and people still scarred by the memory of August 9, 1945." --Publisher description.

The Revisioners
Sexton, Margaret Wilkerson. The Revisioners. Berkeley, California: Counterpoint, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
In 1925, Josephine is the proud owner of a thriving farm. As a child, she channeled otherworldly power to free herself from slavery. Now, her new neighbor, a white woman named Charlotte, seeks her company, and an uneasy friendship grows between them. But Charlotte has also sought solace in the Ku Klux Klan, a relationship that jeopardizes Josephine's family. Nearly one hundred years later, Josephine's descendant, Ava, is a single mother who has just lost her job. She moves in with her white grandmother Martha, a wealthy but lonely woman who pays her grandchild to be her companion. But Martha's behavior soon becomes erratic, then even threatening, and Ava must escape before her story and Josephine's converge.
Ceremony
Silko, Leslie Marmon. Ceremony. Penguin classics. New York: Penguin, 2016. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Almost forty years since its original publication, Ceremony remains one of the most profound and moving works of Native American literature–a novel that is itself a ceremony of healing. Masterfully written, filled with the somber majesty of Pueblo myth, Ceremony is a work of enduring power." -- Publisher's description.
Afterparties: Stories
So, Anthony Veasna. Afterparties: Stories. New York: Ecco, 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"A debut story collection about Cambodian-American life-immersive and comic, yet unsparing-that marks the arrival of an indisputable new talent in American fiction" (from the publisher)
The Voice at the Back Door
Spencer, Elizabeth. The Voice at the Back Door. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1994. eBook @ Harvard Library [Harvard Key required]Abstract

In the mid-1950s, the town of Lacey in the Mississippi hill country is a place where the lives of blacks and whites, though seemingly separate, are in fact historically and inevitably intertwined. When Lacey's fair-haired boy, Duncan Harper, is appointed interim sheriff, he makes public his private convictions about the equality of blacks before the law, and the combined threat and promise he represents to the understood order of things in Lacey affects almost every member of the community. In the end, Harper succeeds in pointing the way for individuals, both black and white, to find a more harmonious coexistence, but at a sacrifice all must come to regret.

In The Voice at the Back Door, Mississippi native Elizabeth Spencer gives form to the many voices that shaped her view of race relations while growing up, and at the same time discovers her own voice -- one of hope. Employing her extraordinary literary powers -- finely honed narrative techniques, insight into a rich, diverse cast of characters, and an unerring ear for dialect -- Spencer makes palpable the psychological milieu of a small southern town hobbled by tradition but lurching toward the dawn of the civil rights movement. First published in 1956, The Voice at the Back Door is Spencer's most highly praised novel yet, and her last to treat small-town life in Mississippi.

Sweet Bean Paste
Sukegawa, Dorian. Sweet Bean Paste. London: Oneworld, 2017. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Sentaro has failed. He has a criminal record, drinks too much, and his dream of becoming a writer is just a distant memory. With only the blossoming of the cherry trees to mark the passing of time, he spends his days in a tiny confectionery shop selling dorayaki, a type of pancake filled with sweet bean paste. But everything is about to change. Into his life comes Tokue, an elderly woman with disfigured hands and a troubled past. Tokue makes the best sweet bean paste Sentaro has ever tasted. She begins to teach him her craft, but as their friendship flourishes, social pressures become impossible to escape and Tokue's dark secret is revealed, with devastating consequences." (Publisher's description)
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Split Tooth
Tagaq, Tanya. Split Tooth. Toronto: Penguin, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"From the internationally acclaimed Inuit throat singer who has dazzled and enthralled the world with music it had never heard before, a fierce, tender, heartbreaking story unlike anything you've ever read. Fact can be as strange as fiction. It can also be as dark, as violent, as rapturous. In the end, there may be no difference between them. A girl grows up in Nunavut in the 1970s. She knows joy, and friendship, and parents' love. She knows boredom, and listlessness, and bullying. She knows the tedium of the everyday world, and the raw, amoral power of the ice and sky, the seductive energy of the animal world. She knows the ravages of alcohol, and violence at the hands of those she should be able to trust. She sees the spirits that surround her, and the immense power that dwarfs all of us. When she becomes pregnant, she must navigate all this. Veering back and forth between the grittiest features of a small arctic town, the electrifying proximity of the world of animals, and ravishing world of myth, Tanya Tagaq explores a world where the distinctions between good and evil, animal and human, victim and transgressor, real and imagined lose their meaning, but the guiding power of love remains. Haunting, brooding, exhilarating, and tender all at once, Tagaq moves effortlessly between fiction and memoir, myth and reality, poetry and prose, and conjures a world and a heroine readers will never forget."-- Provided by publisher.

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