I keep coming back to the conversation about diversity in literature. I think it’s important. I heard it several times during the Festival in Faith and Writing and today I came across an article about how to get more diversity in your YA fiction.
That piece has some good advice. You have to actually search out diversity, recommend it and support it. It doesn’t happen automatically: Search, share, support.
Lately I’ve been trying to search out more diversity. If I don’t, my shelves are mostly full of white folks. It’s the same with my music collection. I don’t like most hip-hop, and the alt-rock and punk genres are pretty homogenous. So I’ve been working at it.
You also have to recommend it, and it’s something I need to be doing more. Though I should be clear this isn’t about simply recommending stuff because of the diversity, but because it’s good. So here are a couple recommendations, something I’ll try to do more consistently:
Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
The hacker youth culture of a Cory Doctorow novel meets an Arab security state and slips into a fantasy world worthy of J.R.R. Tolkien. The mix of realism and fantasy was pretty great. I’m not a huge fan of this kind of fantasy, but I really enjoyed the glimpse into the Muslim world.
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
This is a YA classic but somehow I’ve never read it. An orphaned boy goes in search of his long-lost father in Depression-era Michigan. An early scene of Bud being abused by foster parents made me physically angry, but the story moves to tenderness as Bud encounters more warm-hearted people on his journey.
Music seems like it should be easier to find diversity. But I’ve always been a rock fan, and aside from a few big names, rock isn’t very diverse. I’m not a fan of hip-hop, so that leaves my musical horizons pretty limited.
Thanks to Spotify, I’ve been researching more diverse voices.
“You Can’t Be Told” by Valerie June
This foot-stomping single is a bit different from the rest of her album, but I love her rootsy voice, regardless of anything else.
“Sister Rosetta (Capture the Spirit)” by Noisettes
This one has a swing-dance style that’s just fun. The band has some more recent stuff, unfortunately it’s only available in the U.K.