The Great American Read discussion

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The list, other books, movies > Diversity issues covered in the list

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message 1: by NancyJ, Moderator (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
What diversity issues are addressed in the books?

Which books are written by black authors, and have predominantly black characters? Color Purple, Americanah, Coldest Winter, and...

Which other books also have persons of color? The Help,

Which books are written by hispanic/latino/spanish/or South American authors, or are about people with similar ethnic backgrounds?

Which books focus on feminist themes?

Which books included disabilities, or major medical issues

LGBTQ is covered in another question

Which books involve the immigrant experience, or highlight differences between national culture or subcultures?

Other diversity issues?


message 2: by J., Your Obedient Servant (new)

J. (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
I'm reading the Invisible Man now. It's by a black author and does deal with race in the text.


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments White Teeth

Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao-author is Dominican, but raised between DR and US-so, Afro-Caribbean, and the immigrant experience in the US.

Book Thief and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn both describe the treatment of people persecuted for their religion, and A Tree the immigrant experience.

White Teeth, though I haven't read it, I believe deals with the immigrant experience in London.

Doña Bárbara, The Alchemist, and 100 Years were written by South American authors and take place in Venezuela, Brazil, and Colombia. I can remember that DB has indigenous characters in the novel, and 100 Years, as well (because that's what would have been "other" to them), but don't know about The Alchemist.

Bless Me, Úlitma deals with both diverse populations in the US, as well as the fusion of some indigenous traditions into Catholicism, IIRC.

Beloved

I haven't read Baldwin's "Another Country", but am assuming, perhaps wrongfully,.....

Gone with the Wind

The Stand, even though I read it years ago, because King usually gets at least one person of color in his works, and this one being so long, there's got to be at least one character.

Isn't Curious Incident about an autistic person?


message 4: by J., Your Obedient Servant (last edited Jul 29, 2018 05:04AM) (new)

J. (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "White Teeth

Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao-author is Dominican, but raised between DR and US-so, Afro-Caribbean, and the immigrant experience in the US.

Book Thief and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn ..."


White Teeth has racial and religious themes.

The Alchemist takes place as a journey between Spain and Egypt.


message 5: by NancyJ, Moderator (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "White Teeth

Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao-author is Dominican, but raised between DR and US-so, Afro-Caribbean, and the immigrant experience in the US.

Book Thief and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn ..."


Thanks Linda!

It's funny, the religious discrimination in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn didn't stand out for me. Probably because I read it in between starting and finishing Owen Meany, which was more overtly about religion.

Yes, Curious incident has a character with Autism.

Also The Notebook has a character with Alzheimers.


message 6: by NancyJ, Moderator (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
J. wrote: "Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "White Teeth

Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao-author is Dominican, but raised between DR and US-so, Afro-Caribbean, and the immigrant experience in the US.

B..."



Thanks J. I'm getting curious about the alchemist. It seems a lot of people have read it, but I got raised eyebrows once when I mentioned it in a book club. I got the impression it was too new age for some.


message 7: by J., Your Obedient Servant (new)

J. (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
NancyJ wrote: "J. wrote: "Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "White Teeth

Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao-author is Dominican, but raised between DR and US-so, Afro-Caribbean, and the immigrant experience in..."


My overall impression is that not a lot of people take it seriously and that it's considered light reading.

I enjoyed it. It was a fast read. It did have a thread of mysticism throughout that pushed the narrative, but that's what I liked about it. It never felt like too much or over the top for me, but I suppose that's a matter of personal preference.


message 8: by Claire (new)

Claire  | 6 comments J. wrote: "NancyJ wrote: "J. wrote: "Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "White Teeth

Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao-author is Dominican, but raised between DR and US-so, Afro-Caribbean, and the immigran..."


I did enjoy it too, but don’t consider it a light read. It did go into some serious issues and the history through Trujilo’s reign was not well known by me.
The magical element is not at all overpowering and it actually was very interesting in the novel


message 9: by J., Your Obedient Servant (new)

J. (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Claire wrote: "J. wrote: "NancyJ wrote: "J. wrote: "Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "White Teeth

Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao-author is Dominican, but raised between DR and US-so, Afro-Caribbean, and t..."


I was commenting on the Alchemist! I agree Oscar Wao wasn't a light read. I thought the magical element of Wao pulled together better for me what was a choppy narrative. I didn't understand the sequence of backstory and that made it hard to follow for me.

I've also have just a brief knowledge of the history of that region, so it definitely gave me something to think about.


message 10: by Jess (new)

Jess Penhallow | 28 comments NancyJ wrote: "J. wrote: "Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "White Teeth

Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao-author is Dominican, but raised between DR and US-so, Afro-Caribbean, and the immigrant experience in..."


Each to their own but I hated The Alchemist. Everything happens at breakneck speed and the message I took away from it is that if you want something hard enough everything will just fall into place and you will get it eventually. It felt like a children's book with adult language


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments NancyJ wrote: "Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "White Teeth

Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao-author is Dominican, but raised between DR and US-so, Afro-Caribbean, and the immigrant experience in the US.

B..."


Oh, see, I zeroed in on when she went to the store and used the word "Sheeny" without realizing that it was a racial slur, because she was just a kid repeating what she'd heard.....and when she and her brother take her mother to buy a hat at Xmas.......the representation of the Jewish store owners, had it been written at a later time, might have been a bit over-the-top. Other than the police officer (sad, I've already forgotten his name), the only attempt to represent people's foreign accents are when the store owners appear ("exactle", for example).


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments Claire wrote: "J. wrote: "NancyJ wrote: "J. wrote: "Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "White Teeth

Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao-author is Dominican, but raised between DR and US-so, Afro-Caribbean, and t..."


I'm lost............did you mean "the magical element" in "The Alchemist"? ('cause I don't see anything magical about Oscar Wao).


message 13: by J., Your Obedient Servant (last edited Jul 29, 2018 08:08PM) (new)

J. (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "Claire wrote: "J. wrote: "NancyJ wrote: "J. wrote: "Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "White Teeth

Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao-author is Dominican, but raised between DR and US-so, Afro-C..."


By magical (in Wao) I was referring to the visions the family would have about the beast in the field and seeing it at different points in their lives. Mystical would probably be a better word.


message 14: by J., Your Obedient Servant (new)

J. (jammons42) | 510 comments Mod
NancyJ wrote: "What diversity issues are addressed in the books?

Which books are written by black authors, and have predominantly black characters? Color Purple, Americanah, Coldest Winter, and...

Which other b..."


I don't know if we caught it, but Their Eyes Were Watching God was written by a black author.


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments J. wrote: "Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "Claire wrote: "J. wrote: "NancyJ wrote: "J. wrote: "Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "White Teeth

Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao-author is Dominican, ..."


:)
MR is bandied about waaay too much (though I know some see it (meaning the mongoose) as MR and others don't.) It's become a pet peeve that everyone thinks everything ever written in Latin America qualifies for "magical realism", same for every book that has a woman step into a kitchen (yes, I'm looking at you, Chocolat!)


message 16: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Jul 31, 2018 06:50AM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "

I know what you mean. Like Water for Chocolate (I don't know if it's a book, but I loved the movie, subtitles and all), Woman on Top, Chocolat, and ... one other based in New York City.

I saw the term magical realism applied to 100 Years of Solitude, but I didn't remember it that way.


message 17: by Linda Abhors the New GR Design (last edited Jul 31, 2018 01:55PM) (new)

Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments NancyJ wrote: "Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "

I know what you mean. Like Water for Chocolate (I don't know if it's a book, but I loved the movie, subtitles and all), Woman on Top, Chocolat, and ... one..."


Like Water for Chocolate--That's one of the "women in the kitchen-magical realism:" that got the ball rolling. Yes, it's a real book. Yes, it's magical realism, because she sort of accepts that the way she feels when she cooks, and the influence of her feelings on what she's making, is normal. The cook who teaches her, Nacha, understands that this is a reality, as well. I liked the movie, have the book, but haven't read it yet.

She benefited from the Isabel Allende book The House of the Spirits (all of the women in the family were clairvoyant, and it was accepted as fact), who in turn benefited from Garcia Marquez. However, not all of her books are m.r., lately, she's just doing straight romance fiction (I used to defend her because I'd only read HoSpirits, which I really recommend, and her second book. After reading a bunch of subsequent novels, I can't really defend her work any more than I would any other romance fiction.)

=One Hundred Years of Solitude--The original, the one that started it all. The acceptance as "normal" of certain events in the novel that would seem fantastic in real life (a famous example is Remedios, the Beautiful, who ascends into the heavens in a cloud of yellow butterflies). There's something called "the marvelous real" and "magical realism". Some critics in Latin American lit equate the two, others say that "the marvelous real" celebrates what is unusual in Latin America (and it cannot be copied by Europe). In the words of a f2f book club friend "Marvelous real makes what's normal marvelous, and magical realism makes what's marvelous seem normal". If that helps. The pivotal text for "the marvelous real" is Alejo Carpentier's The Kingdom of This World and I highly recommend it. Dense (neo-Baroque style), but very short.

Chocolat--nope, just a copy of the idea, trying to ride the wave......but if you read it closely, she and her daughter keep moving, because people discover that she's a witch. In other words, what she does would never be written off as "normal", so she has to hide it (ergo, not magical realism). Just plain ol' magic. I love the movie, though, and don't mind the book--I actually read the next two in the series--I just don't think it's m.r.

Another thing that helps to distinguish is how it makes the reader feel.......if the author relates things in such a way that the reader gets that "unheimlich"(Creepy) feeling, then you're reading fantastic literature. If it doesn't inspire any feelings of weirdness or creepiness in the reader, why, you're probably reading m.r. And the way other characters in the novel react to these events influence the reader's interpretation/acceptance or rejection of that "reality".


message 18: by Kim (new)

Kim (skullfullofbooks) NancyJ wrote: "Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "

I know what you mean. Like Water for Chocolate (I don't know if it's a book, but I loved the movie, subtitles and all), Woman on Top, Chocolat, and ... one..."


It was taught as magical realism to me in school. Between that and House of Spirits, my latin reading exposure was very narrow. I could not have finished 100 Years without a teacher, but I remember being told it might have had something to do with the sleeping sickness that occurred. So it was made "magical" to try to explain it, somehow. I never talk about it on solid ground though, because the two books have really blended together on me over the years.


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments Kim wrote: "NancyJ wrote: "Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "

I know what you mean. Like Water for Chocolate (I don't know if it's a book, but I loved the movie, subtitles and all), Woman on Top, Chocol..."

So what would make the sleeping sickness "magical", would be that the characters accept it as run-of-the-mill occurrence, and nothing fantastic or out of this world.
Interesting, so you guys read "Oscar Wao" in high school!?


message 20: by NancyJ, Moderator (last edited Aug 05, 2018 03:11PM) (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Awesome interview with James Baldwin, author of Another Country


https://twitter.com/i/status/10250209...


message 21: by NancyJ, Moderator (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "Kim wrote: "NancyJ wrote: "Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "

I know what you mean. Like Water for Chocolate (I don't know if it's a book, but I loved the movie, subtitles and all), Woman on..."


Well I'm lost. I think I had a sleeping sickness when I read 100 Years of solitude on vacation. While everyone was at the beach I was in bed listening to it on head phones. Worst vacation ever. I probalby ought to reread the book.


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments I should as well, though I feel that I have, since he recycled his characters in other novels and his short stories. Prime example of magical realism, prime example of intra-textuality.


message 23: by NancyJ, Moderator (new)

NancyJ (nancyjjj) | 1835 comments Mod
Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "I should as well, though I feel that I have, since he recycled his characters in other novels and his short stories. Prime example of magical realism, prime example of intra-textuality."

"intra-textuality?"


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments NancyJ wrote: "Linda Abhors the New GR Design wrote: "I should as well, though I feel that I have, since he recycled his characters in other novels and his short stories. Prime example of magical realism, prime e..."

Intertextuality is how a text borrows from other discourses (references to the Bible in the Narnia books would be an example). Intratextuality is when an author references other works of his/her own within another text. The two authors that I know of who do this the most are Garcia Marquez and Stephen King.


message 25: by Heather (new)

Heather (bruyere) In Game of Thrones you can assume that people from Dorne have darker skin and eyes and are Hispanic people of color. Dothraki are fashioned after Mongols, Huns, and American Indian tribes. People from the Summer Isles are called ebony-skinned. The Free Cities (how ironic) are also quite diverse in the books.

Of course Tyrion is the most noticeable diverse main character in the books, and is obviously a little person. The books make it very clear how much disdain Tyrion suffers from because of his size and how limiting his life is. However, you can see that he is by far the most intelligent, crafty, and industrious character. The book never tells you this, but shows you this.

There is some diversity of sexual orientation in the books, but it's very minimal. I feel like the show amplified what the books had. But at least there is some, and you get to see the struggle of being in this situation of it not being accepted and people being forced into marriage with the opposite sex regardless of preference.


Linda Abhors the New GR Design | 915 comments Bruyere wrote: "In Game of Thrones you can assume that people from Dorne have darker skin and eyes and are Hispanic people of color. Dothraki are fashioned after Mongols, Huns, and American Indian tribes. People f..."

Lol, I haven't read the books/seen the series (yes, I know, I'm a freak a nayTHCA!)......but Mongols, Hungs and Native Americans ?! Wow, someone took a big leap over the pond back in the day, lol!


message 27: by Heather (last edited Aug 07, 2018 09:48AM) (new)

Heather (bruyere) That's fantasy for you. :)

I read the books before the tv show came out. I think both are good in their own right. The books can be a real slog to get through as there are various pov that I was uninterested in and the author spends a lot of time describing what people eat and wear. lol


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