October 28th, 2015


recommending books to someone I don't know well enough to recommend books to

[personal profile] dingsi asked for book suggestions, and I made some even though I get anxious recommending books to people I don't know.
I want to suggest three women of color who write excellent books that haven't been suggested yet, but all these books have content that I have to warn for while recommending them. They are all fantasy, but not the kind of fantasy that escapes from the fact that if you're a woman of color, some people will treat your body as if it were their property.

What makes these books so great is that they are about living a joyful autonomous life anyway.

Redwood and Wildfire, by Andrea Hairston, is set at the beginning of the 20th century, in the swampland of Georgia and then in the theater and film world of Chicago. The protagonist is a Black woman learning to use her magic and her storytelling power. The other main character is a mixed-race Native American and white man. Warnings for a lynching, a rape, alcoholism, and the fact that there is eventually a romance between characters who became friends while one of them was an adult and the other was a child.

Nalo Hopkinson's work is multicultural, feminist, queer, and intersectional. Midnight Robber is the one I read first and still my favorite, but the protagonist is raped by her father. Sister Mine has a Caribbean family of gods living in modern-day Toronto. Warning for consensual incest between conjoined twins. The Salt Roads has three protagonists, in 18th-century Haiti, 19th-century Paris, and ancient Egypt, connected by a goddess and the struggle for freedom. Warning for slavery and prostitution.

Octavia Butler wrote some of the most worthwhile and most troubling books I have ever read. I don;t even know where to start talking about them. Fledgling is about vampires, but it will take you straight into the heart of the problem Butler never stopped struggling with: the way our biology drives us to violate other people's autonomy. She alienates the problem by telling stories in which the exploiters are a different species than the people they use, but you can't not see the light these stories cast on the way men use women, the way white people use Black people, the way fetuses use their mothers.

This entry was originally posted at http://boxofdelights.dreamwidth.org/277332.html. Please comment there using OpenID.