March is Women’s History Month, and what better way to recognize the women’s issues than by reading literature written by women of color? There are many female-penned novels, essays and poems that represent women’s diverse experiences and lives. Here are five books by women of color you may not have read:
“The American Granddaughter” by Inaam Kachachi
Inaam Kachachi is an Iraqi author and journalist who has been living in Paris since moving there to obtain her PhD from the Sorbonne. Her novel “The American Granddaughter” has been translated into English and received praise for its beautiful writing and representation of the female experience in Iraq. The novel follows Zeina, a young woman who begins working as a translator for the US Army while living with her grandmother (who vehemently disapproves of her decision).
“Sula” by Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison is one of the most well-known black writers of the 20th century, and her novel “Sula” is a great choice if you’re new to her work. “Sula” follows the close friendship of two young black women from rural Ohio as they come of age. While Nel takes the traditional path of marriage and children, Sula chooses to leave her community, pursuing college and the big-city life. As they come into themselves as women, their values (and their friendship) grow and change, representing experiences many women will relate to. They are eventually forced to come to terms with their differences when Sula returns to their hometown.
“The Jailing of Cecelia Capture” by Janet Campbell Hale
Native American author Janet Campbell Hale is the author of “The Jailing of Cecelia Capture,” a story of a young Native American mother of two who is arrested for drunk driving. While jailed, she reflects back on her life, which has included life on a reservation in Idaho, marriage, single motherhood and college.
“When I Was Puerto Rican” by Esmeralda Santiago
Esmeralda Santiago’s autobiography follows her journey from Puerto Rico to Brooklyn. Growing up in Puerto Rico, Santiago saw happy times as well as poverty, learning all the conventions and traditions of a Puerto Rican upbringing. When she moves to Brooklyn with her mother and siblings, she learns to navigate a different culture, eventually culminating in an education from Harvard University.
“Typical American” by Gish Jen
Gish Jen’s comical novel follows the immigration story of the Chang family, who come to the United States from China before the country’s shift to communism in 1949. After this happens, the family is forced to decide how to come to terms with the change. After decrying aspects of American culture, they begin to embody those values and ideas themselves. Jen writes the novel with a humorous perspective that pokes fun at its subject matter while narrating the story of immigration from a Chinese American perspective.