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In Reading Color

Orange is the New Book Club, Rare Books, and more!

Welcome back fellow readers in color! If you’re new here, In Reading Color is a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

I’m writing to you from the crispest of fall temperatures. My city has decided to accommodate my perfect idea of autumn, and the past couple of days have been mid to low 60s. All of this means I was able to bust out my lil cardigans and whatnot that I’ve been saving, and I’m now walking around cute n cozy.

Before we get into some news, updates, and new releases, how has the change of season been treating you?


Now, let’s get started!

Solange Knowles  in When I Get Home album cover photo

In celebration of Solange’s Free Library of Rare, out-of-print books by Black authors, let’s revisit her 2019 album When I Get Home, which is still the ethereal bop it was when it first came out. There hasn’t been any other album I’ve been able to listen to lately from start to finish straight through as I have Solange’s. Almeda is a standout. Please have a listen if you haven’t already.

The adaption for Argentinian author Samanta Schweblin’s book Fever Dream is out now.  Also, Netflix is starting a book club that will feature books the streaming service has adapted. The selections will be curated by Uzo Aduba from Orange is the New Black (but more like Orange is Uzo Aduba’s Color, amirite?). Uzo will sit with the author and speak about the connection between the original book and the adaption. All together, it seems like a pretty unique and interesting concept. Passing by Nella Larsen will be the first discussed, as the release of Netflix’s adaption with air on November 10th.

The Frangipani Tree Mystery cover image

In more adaption news, Singaporean writer Ovidia Yu’s Frangipani Tree Mystery series is being adapted for TV. It takes place in 1936 in Singapore amidst political uncertainty. In a bid to escape an arranged marriage, Su Lin takes the place of a slain Irish nanny in the house of the acting governor of Singapore. When another murder takes place in the governor’s house, Su Lin puts her journalism experience to use to aid British Chief Inspector LeFroy in solving the case.

DC is developing an animated movie based on Black-centered comics from its Milestone imprint. “Milestone launched in 1993 with the intention of creating more mainstream Black superheroes, featuring a group of characters from the fictional city of Dakota whose identities and backgrounds were central to their power.”

Some New Releases

cover of Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli

A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli— a romance about an über practical data analyst who explores her Indian roots, and her more impulsive, passionate side. Eow!

Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall— a YA graphic novel with a lesbian and Asian main character who gets caught up with the popular girls in high school…who also happen to be werewolves.

Sankofa by Chinudu Onuzo— Reese’s Book Club pick for October. This follows Anna after her mother dies as she traces her roots back to a father she never knew, who also happened to be the president of a small country in West Africa.

A Little Sumn Extra

The book bans aren’t letting up. Now, Toni Morrison books are being requested to be banned by Virginia Beach School Board Member

Kelly Jensen has more on the latest book challenges.

K.W. Collard gives us an extensive list of the greatest science fiction through the ages.

Leah Asmelash reports for CNN on poetry’s modern resurgence, with poets of color leading the charge

Keke Palmer and Jasmine Guillory are collaborating on a story collection


Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with reigning Queen of YA, Kelly Jensen, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next time,

-E

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In Reading Color

Darkness in Academia

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

Before we get into our books, please head over here to get some limited edition merchandise celebrating our 10th anniversary! *blaring horn noises*

Ok, now on to today’s topic!


The United States as a concept is an interesting one. From its inception, it has been touted as a place where only merit mattered in terms of individual success. For a self-described meritocracy, the socioeconomic status is fairly predetermined in the U.S, though, especially for people of color. This is due, in part, to the inability to build generational wealth. The road blocks to building wealth for generations are varied, but among them is the discrimination that exists within education and health care—fields that are, perhaps ironically, known to have people who are educated.

These books detail how academia, the domain of the educated, is not exempt from displaying the same levels of racism and sexism as any other institution in the west. And how, in fact, it often does its part to help reinforce systems of oppression.

The Patriarchy and Academia

The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper

The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper

Michele Harper details her experiences starting anew as a freshly divorced Black female ER doctor in a new city. She sees how systematic oppression manifests within the medical field and how it translates to a lack of patient care. What she witnesses also helps her to come to grips with her family’s history of domestic violence— despite their social standing in Washington, D.C.— and shows her just how much social change is necessary.

cover of Decolonizing Academia: Poverty, Oppression and Pain by Clelia O. Rodríguez

Decolonizing Academia: Poverty, Oppression and Pain by Clelia O. Rodríguez 

“You do not get to speak about our pain, claiming authorship over what we go through…”

From being made to doubt our capabilities to not being given the space to speak on our experiences, Rodríguez details the ways academia is a hostile environment for people of color, especially women. She offers up this survival guide, suggesting artistic expression — in the form of poetry, art, and more— as part of the resistance against the academia’s inherent white patriarchal structure.

book cover of The disordered Cosmos by Chandra Prescod-Weinstein

The Disordered Cosmos by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

Prescod-Weinstein describes how the classroom is a microcosm of society at large, complete with all of its the racism and sexism. As a renowned physicist and one of fewer than one hundred Black women to earn a PhD from a physics department, she makes the case of how racism, sexism, and science are inexorably linked to colonialism. Her love of physics and Star Trek shine through as she details a plan for a new, inclusive way for the field of science to operate.

image of Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington

Medical Apartheid by Harriet A. Washington

This is known to be the first and only history detailing how the medical profession has abused Black people since the beginning of this country. Washington starts with slavery, and how slave owners would hire out or sell enslaved people to be medical test subjects, continues with how Black graves were often robbed in search of cadavers for medical students, and also includes the infamous Tuskegee experiment that saw 600 Black men purposefully left diseased.

Through Medical Apartheid, we see the foundations of the distrust that Black Americans have for the medical establishment that exists in many till this day. We also see the history of how the medical field has come to devalue its Black patients, with disastrous results.

Although many of these books focus on Black people, the identification of Black people as The Other is what makes it acceptable for us to be abused.This ease with which others are mistreated makes it easier to continue maltreatment when more groups are identified as being outside of the dominant group. In other words, the abuse of one group affects everyone.

A Little Sumn Extra

Disney+ Greenlights ‘American Born Chinese’ Series From Melvin Mar, Kelvin Yu & Jake Kasdan

The 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to the novelist Abdulrazak Gurnah, whose work includes Afterlives and Paradise.

Maya Angelou, Sally Ride and other trailblazing women will be featured on U.S. coins

Philadelphia poet Sonia Sanchez has won the Gish Prize

Lawyer, poet and recent MacArthur genius grant recipientReginald Dwayne Betts talks about his initiative Freedom Reads, which offers inmates access to books across the US


Thanks for reading; it’s been nice! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with reigning Queen of YA, Kelly Jensen, as well as in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next time,

-E

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In Reading Color

Quelle Horreur

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

Before we get into today’s topic, we’re celebrating our 10 year anniversary! Check our limited-edition merchandise– it’s only available this month!


With the spooky season upon us, it’s interesting to think about people of color and the horror genre. It’s said that the horror genre can be a healthy way to explore our anxieties. There’s even been discussion of the connection between what kind of monsters are coming out in entertainment based on societal fears of the time. As the horror genre becomes less crowded with straight white men, we’re beginning to see more and more of how the anxieties and fears of non white people look like played out through the medium. Enter this week’s book club discussion topic.

Many times, as you’ll find within most of the selections below, horror written by people of color has major themes of racism and sexism throughout.

cover of My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

Jade is a seventeen year old half Indian outcast in the quickly gentrifying town of Proofrock. Her mother abandoned her and her father is abusive, but what she lacks in social ties and family bonds, she makes up in knowledge of slasher films. Horror movies have become a crutch for her to escape into when she doesn’t want to face the reality of her trauma. Fiction bleeds into reality, though, as she realizes that she can apply her encyclopedic knowledge of horror films to the deaths happening in her town.

book cover of When the Reckoning Comes by LaTanya McQueen

When the Reckoning Comes by LaTanya McQueen

First of all, shoutout to Pinterest and others for restricting the promotion of plantation weddings on their sites. The fact that they had to shows how perverse the memory of slavery is in this country for many. It takes a lot of cognitive dissonance to romanticize a place that meant death and subjugation for so many Black people.

In When the Reckoning Comes, Mira returns to a town she had fled ten years ago to go to a white friend’s plantation wedding. Tuh. We would cease to be friends with that invite, but maybe that’s just me. Upon her return, Mira finds the past she tried to flee from is resurfacing. She’s faced with the results of a childhood dare gone wrong, a haunted plantation that has been turned into a resort, and fact that the plantation’s ghosts—formerly enslaved people— are out for revenge against the descendants of their former torturers.

Nothing But Blackened Teeth

Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw (October 19)

Another terrible wedding venue choice in a novella that Khaw describes as “a haunted house story where messy people make really bad decisions.” Someone thought it’d be a good idea to have a wedding at an abandoned Heian-era mansion that rests on the bones of a bride and her sacrifices. Couldn’t be me. Japanese folklore and aforementioned messiness converge for a truly horrifying read.

cover of Coyote Songs Gabino Iglesias

Coyote Songs by Gabino Iglesias

This collection of stories jumps from different points of view as it tells the story of migration in the American Southwest. The concepts of borders, gods, ghosts, colonization, revenge, and more are explored through deftly interwoven stories.

cover of Ring Shout by P. Djelí Clark

Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark

The Birth of a Nation is a hateful spell released upon the world by the sorcerer D.W. Griffith. To fight the Klan’s hellish plan for earth, Maryse Boudreaux and her magic sword join forces with two other Black women— a sharpshooter and a Harlem Hellfighter— to fight the demons the Klan conjures. This novella mixes African folklore with American history and, naturally, commentary on racial animus. This is definitely for fans of the show Lovecraft Country.

A Little Sumn Extra


Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with reigning Queen of YA, Kelly Jensen, as well in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next time,

Erica

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In Reading Color

Un-banned Books

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

So apparently, there’s a chance my home state, Tennessee, may enter the ring with Pennsylvania and Texas for recent book bans. *heavy sigh* This isn’t much of a surprise, considering how they had already banned schools from teaching Critical Race Theory a little earlier this year. The far right group waging war against books isn’t just after those that center non white narratives, though. They’re also coming for books about sea horses, hurricanes, and Galileo. Galileo. As in, the Galileo who already caught a case back in 1633 for saying that the earth revolved around the sun. My mans can’t even catch a break in death almost 400 years later. You hate to see it.

The protest against Galileo is fitting, though, I think. It shows how this brand of thinking is literally antiquated and seems to be at least partially a result of a response to increased diversity. I doubt it’s a coincidence that the types of books that tend to be banned center queer people and people of color. Because of that, and the start of Banned Book Week, I’m highlighting books that have been banned or otherwise publicly contested.

Rebel with a Book

cover of Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard, Juana Martinez-Neal (illustrator)

This adorable picture book extols fry bread, a traditional bread made by Indigenous people that originated as a result of forced relocation. In 1864, Native Nations were forced on the “Long Walk,” in which they had to travel 300 miles to unfamiliar lands. After many starved, the U.S. government stepped in to give rations of flour, baking powder, and salt — ingredients for the beloved fry bread. The dish is not without its critics, though.

cover of Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o, illustrated by Vashti Harrison

Sulwe by Lupita N’yongo and Vashti Harrison (illustrator)

Academy Award winning actor and Black Panther’s boo, Lupita N’yongo’s book about a girl trying to find her way is beautifully illustrated. We follow Sulwe, whose beautiful dark skin leaves her feeling less than confident. She pines to have lighter complexion like her mother and sister. Once she goes on her magical journey, though, her thoughts around beauty change and her confidence is reinvigorated.

I wanted to make sure to include a couple children’s books to show how even those aren’t safe from banning. Look at these precious covers! How do you look at that and think negatively?

cover of The Book of Unknown Americans  by Cristina Henriquez

The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez

Arturo and Alma Rivera leave Mexico with their daughter Maribel. They hope that living in the U.S. will help Maribel to heal from a serious injury. They soon realize just how many obstacles there are in the way of them achieving their American dream, however.

Meanwhile, Maribel is having realizations of her own. The neighbor’s kid, Mayor, and her have a burgeoning romance that inspires gossip. But the two teenagers see in each other what others fail to notice in this novel showing how incorrectly immigrants are labeled.

cover of None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

What if what you thought you knew about yourself was wrong? That’s the case for Kristen Lattimer, whose life seems to be going pretty well when we first meet her. She’s got scholarships lined up for college, friends, and a great boyfriend. One day, when she and her boyfriend decide to take the next step and attempt to have sex, Kristen realizes something is wrong. She goes to the doctor and finds out she’s intersex and has male chromosomes. In addition to this revelation, she has to contend with the rest of her high school finding out. This book explores how deeply entrenched gender is with our identity, and what it means to identify as male, female, or intersex.

cover of Ghosts in the Schoolyard- Racism and School Closings on Chicago's South Side by Eve Ewing

Ghosts in the Schoolyard by Eve Ewing

“Failing schools. Underprivileged schools. Just plain bad schools.”

Ewing opens Ghosts in the Schoolyard with this straight-to-the-point description of Chicago’s public schools before the Mayor announced an unprecedented amount of school closings in 2013. The idea, according to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, was to make way for better schools by combatting lower enrollments rates, budget woes, and purging the bad schools. This sounds well and good until you consider how the decision was met with widespread protest, which begs the question: if the schools were so bad, why did parents, teachers, and students still want them open? Ewing answers this question by examining the elements of race and class that have influenced Chicago’s public education system. This may focus on Chicago, but I reckon many of the things explained here are mirrored in many cities across the United States.

A Little Sumn Extra

More on banning books by Kara Yorio at School Library Journal.

This is cool: open source e-reader you can make yourself from parts

Lena Waithe and Gillian Flynn to Start Book Imprints


Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with reigning Queen of YA, Kelly Jensen, as well in the In The Club newsletter.

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In Reading Color

Fresh Fall Finds

Welcome to In Reading Color, a space where we focus on literature by and about people of color.

As excited as I am to be rid of this 90+ degree heat and embrace all the pumpkin flavored tingz, I’m just as excited for all the new book releases that fall brings. Below are just a few from different genres to get you started.

The Newness of It All

cover image of Black Birds in the Sky- The Story and Legacy of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre by Brandy Colbert

Black Birds in the Sky: The Story and Legacy of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre by Brandy Colbert

Hopefully you’ve heard of the Tulsa Race Massacre, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you haven’t. I had literally never heard about it until I was an adult. I think the fact that the public schools I attended didn’t shy away from showing America’s cruelty for Black people, but yet still never mentioned Tulsa is a testament to just how hard the United States have tried to forget the massacre. Award-winning author Brandy Colbert answers the questions of “how did it come to pass? What exactly happened? And why are the events unknown to so many of us today?” in this Young Adult historical nonfiction. Out October 5th.

Bonus: If you want a visual that explores what happened in Tulsa and other issues like homophobia while gracing you with Regina King as a bomb ass superhero, get into HBO’s Watchmen. It had to be one of the best things I watched in 2019.

cover of Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki (September 28)

In a bid to avoid eternal damnation, Shizuka has made a deal with the devil to deliver seven violin prodigies’ souls. She’s just heard her final candidate, runaway trans girl Katrina, when she crosses paths with retired starship captain and refugee, Lan, in a donut shop. The three women’s lives become intertwined in this novel that has been likened to Good Omens (another great watch!), The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. It also has Faust teas, naturally. Out September 28th.

cover image of Shelf Life: Chronicles of a Cairo Bookseller by Nadia Wassef

Shelf Life: Chronicles of a Cairo Bookseller by Nadia Wassef (October 5)

In 2002, amidst country-wide turmoil, Wasseff, her friend, and her sister opened Diwan, an independent bookstore at a time when books were considered a luxury. This was also despite the fact that none of the three Egyptian women had any relevant experience. Wassef recounts “starting a bookstore at this moment of cultural atrophy seemed impossible—and utterly necessary.” Decades later, Diwan is a success with ten locations and a loyal fanbase. It has even gained the reputation of being a safe space for women. Wassef’s voice is straightforward and at-times humorous as she details all it took to realize her dream.

cover of Notable Native People by Adrienne Keene

Notable Native People by Adrienne Keene (October 5)

This is a collection of accessible biographies of 50 Indigenous people from the Americas and Polynesia assembled own voices author Keene. There are past as well as contemporary figures– including activists, artists, athletes, and scientists– that are highlighted in this gorgeously illustrated book.

cover image of Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth by Wole Soyinka

Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth by Wole Soyinka

Soyinka was the first Black person to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Now, while I don’t mean to detract from giving Soyinka his flowers, I always have to side eye an organization that has been giving awards for literature since 1901 and only just started awarding Black people in 1973. But, that’s another topic for another newsletter, no doubt. In his first novel in nearly 50 years, Soyinka delivers satire in an imaginary Nigeria where a surgeon tells his engineer friend of stolen body parts from his hospital being repurposed for rituals. How greed can utterly corrupt a country is explored here with biting precision.

cover of My Sweet Girl by Amanda Jayatissa

My Sweet Girl by Amanda Jayatissa 

Paloma has had a nice life since being adopted from a Sri Lankan orphanage at 12 by philanthropists. Now 30, she’s cut off her parents and drinks too much. She also believes the same ghost that haunted her orphanage may be haunting her, still. Add to that how she found her roommate dead. She flees, but upon her return, she finds that he’s gone, along with every trace of his existence. Yikes. To say her life is less than desirable would be an understatement. Jayatissa shows how the past can come back to bite in this thrilling debut. Out now.

cover image Reparations Now! by Ashley M. Jones

Poetry

“What is the price of a life, a stolen culture, a stolen heart?”

Ashley M. Jones is the first Black Poet Laureate for Alabama. In Reparations Now!, she wades through histories, both personal and political, with a mind to repair. Listen to a short interview with her at NPR here. The collection is out now.

Genghis Chan on Drums by John Yau, out October 1st.

My Darling from the Lions by Rachel Long, out now.

Make Me Rain: Poems & Prose by Nikki Giovanni, September 28th.

A Little Sumn Extra

Children of Blood and Bone author Tomi Adeyemi ATE at the Met Gala and left no crumbs:

Tomi Adeyemi in stunning gold dress at Met Gala, 2021

Thanks for reading; it’s been cute! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with reigning Queen of YA, Kelly Jensen, as well in the In The Club newsletter.

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In Reading Color

Lit Latinx

Welcome to the second In Reading Color newsletter! This is a space to focus on literature by and about people of color.

September 15- October 15 marks Latinx heritage month. While we obviously celebrate Latinx authors all year round, cultural awareness months are sorely needed as there is still a fight waging to erase certain narratives. Because the history of some nonwhite groups in the Western world is inherently tied to racial animus, many conflate the teaching of that history as being anti-white or anti-American. You can read about an instance of this in this article by Rioter Sarah Hannah Gómez about Florida’s ban on Critical Race Theory.

Below are some books from different genres by Latinx authors for you to get into.


image of in the dream house book cover

In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

Machado speaks of the female perpetrator and queer abusers as ghosts that have “always been here, haunting the ruler’s house” in this unique memoir that details the author’s experiences being in an abusive, queer relationship. The narrative takes different forms– among them an erotica, an academic analysis of female queerness, a haunted house– in detailing the many aspects of what it’s like to be abused by an intimate partner, showing just how complex and layered the experience is. With the use of second person, Machado snatches all hopes you might have had in staying distant from the abuse. You’re inserted front-and-center and made to live out her experiences.

image of Wild Tongues Can't Be Tamed 15 Voices from the Latinx Diaspora edited by Saraciea J. Fennell

Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed edited by Saraciea J. Fennell

This anthology features some of the most poppin’ Latinx writers. The poems and personal essays featured here cover everything from immigration, sexuality, music, and more, showing glimpses of the rich tapestry that is the Latinx community. Editor Fennell centered the collection on “letting our truths run wild, and pushing against whatever it is you think is the ideal Latinx individual.” Let ’em know!

image of the worst best man cover image

The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa

Lina Santos is a wedding planner that was left at the altar. I’ve got one word for sis: Tragic. Since then, she’s continued to run her wedding planning business with a fair amount of success in D.C. until one day she’s offered a big opportunity by someone important. The catch is that it’ll mean working with the man who convinced her former fiancé to leave her high and dry– his brother, Max. This is a fun romp through the hate-to-love romance trope, and has been described as giving serious 90s teas.

cover image of Indivisible by Daniel Aleman

Indivisible by Daniel Aleman 

Mateo is a 16-year-old queer kid with dreams of becoming an actor when the one thing he’s always feared happens: His parents are detained by I.C.E. His father goes to jail, and his mother a detention center. Suddenly, he has the weight of the world on his shoulders in the form of his 7-year-old sister and the family bodega. While he tries to maintain his dream of going to Tisch School of the Arts, he keeps his struggles from his two friends (one of whom is a possible love interest) in this heartbreaking novel about the effects of separating families.

cover image of Sabrina & Corina- Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

Sabrina & Corina: Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine 

“Ever feel like the land is swallowing you whole, Sierra?”

The eleven stories here speak of heritage and land and how the two things relate to Indigenous Latinx women based in Colorado and Denver. The stories span from following a child abandoned by a woman who was made a mother too young, a sex worker and her daughter who make a big move into hostile territory, how a family struggles with a breast cancer diagnosis, and more.

cover image The Lost Book of Adana Moreau by Michael Zapata

The Lost Book of Adana Moreau by Michael Zapata 

Dominican born Adana Moreau writes a science fiction novel in 1929 New Orleans with her son Maxwell at her side. Before she can finish its sequel, she falls ill and she and her son burn the manuscript.

Eighty years later, Saul Drower sets out for New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina prepares to hit the city in order to fulfill his dead grandfather’s request of returning a mysterious manuscript to a man named Maxwell Moreau, a physicist who speaks of parallel universes. Zapata pays homage to the power of storytelling in this imaginative historical fantasy.

A Little Sumn Extra

Exciting news! We’re looking for an Ad Ops Associate at Book Riot. If you or anyone you know may be interested, please click here to apply by September 30, 2021.

Karen Tei Yamashita to receive honorary National Book Award

Fellow Rioter Laura Sackton gives us a list of Indigenous bookstagram accounts to follow


Thanks for hanging with me! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with reigning Queen of YA, Kelly Jensen, as well in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next week!

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In Reading Color

A Remixed Welcome

Welcome to the first issue of In Reading Color! This is a space to focus on literature by and about people of color.

It’s been great to see all the attention and acclaim that writers of color have been receiving just in the past few years alone. Of course, there is more work to be done in terms of truly making the literary world fair and equitable, but I’m glad to see how much progress has been made. Also, the stories are amazing, so there’s that. I’m fairly new to the Riot crew, but am a longtime follower and am super pumped (Eoww!) to get silly and real with y’all as we delve into works by authors of color.

Today’s topic: retellings.


The Mood is: Remixed

— or taking something familiar, rearranging it, and making something new.

Song Suggestions: Heart-Shaped Box and Thong Song (yes, that Thong Song, and you’re welcome) both covered by Amber Mark.

image of singer Amber Mark sitting with her back to the camera in a fluorescent pink and orange dress

“I can look for my story among the witches of Salem, but it isn’t there.” – Maryse Condé, I, Tituba Black Witch of Salem

This line from Maryse Condé’s 1986 novel– which I will definitely reference again before the year is over– is one of erasure. The past few hundred years have been a testament to how much entire cultures, traditions, etc. can be actively destroyed and lost to the annals of history. There are the Taino of the Caribbean, other Indigenous peoples of the Americas, and Black Americans, just to name a few, who have all had their stories rewritten, reimagined, or very simply erased in favor of a narrative that was deemed more convenient.

Because of this, I want to focus on retellings by authors of color. Why? Because I think many retellings are stories that have nestled into certain parts of our brains, providing a lens through which to see the world. By centering people of color in these narratives, a place in the collective subconscious is carved out for us, showing how we should have been there all along.

cover image of Pride- A Pride & Prejudice Remix by Ibi Zoboi

Pride: A Pride & Prejudice Remix by Ibi Zoboi

This Pride and Prejudice retelling features all characters of color. Zuri Benitez is a proud Afro-Latinx Brooklynite who is witnessing her neighborhood becoming more and more gentrified, but can do little to stop it. When the wealthy Darcy family moves in, she’s definitely not feeling their two teenaged sons– especially judgmental Darius– no matter how charming they may be. Well…. not at first, anyway. Zuri balances the pull of four rambunctious sisters, college applications, cute boys, and the realization that Darius might not be so bad after all.

Cover for The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

In this more overtly queer retelling of The Great Gatsby, a Vietnamese Jordan Baker tells the story of Daisy Buchanan’s and Jay Gatsby’s doomed relationship. Jordan’s adoption into the Baker family has brought her into a new world of old money and new magic where she tries to ignore the exoticism she’s labeled with. This is a perfect story to retell with a character of color as I feel like The Great Gatsby is about The American Dream (TM) and all the trappings of class and race that come with it. Plus, Vo just has beautiful prose. I mean, I can’t help but to stan.

cover image of Love in Color by Bolu Babalola

Love in Color by Bolu Babalola 

Rom-com expert and Queen of shooting her shot (I see you, sis) Bolu Babalola has assembled 13 short stories about love. All of these stories are retellings from mythology, and include everything from West African lore to Greek myths and Middle Eastern legends. She revisits tropes and fairy tales with an eye towards decolonization.

frankenstein in baghdad by ahmed saadawi book cover

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, translated by Jonathan Wright 

When local oddball Hadi goes to the site of a car bombing to collect his assistant’s body for burial, he finds not one body, but a collection of pieces from different bodies. In an effort to have those that died treated with respect, Hadi assembles the body parts into one to be buried. The only issue is that the newly assembled body goes missing and a string of strange murders start turning up all over the city. Saadwi was the first Iraqi to win the International Prize for Arabic Fiction for this brilliant retelling of the horror classic.

New Releases

So Many Beginnings: A Little Women Remix by Bethany C. Morrow

This book out today rethinks a story that has become an American standard and tells it in 1863 when the Civil War is in full swing. The March family has established itself in the developing Freedmen’s Colony of Roanoke Island where recently emancipated people have set roots. We follow the four March daughters– Meg the teacher, Jo the writer, Beth the seamstress, and Amy the dancer– as they come into their own. I feel like I don’t come across enough stories of Black people during this time that don’t have us in chains, so seeing a different side of Black family life during this time is refreshing.

cover image of Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

As we become more acquainted, I’m sure you’ll notice my absolute adoration for Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Here, street kid Domingo meets Atl, a beautiful and mesmerizing descendent of Aztec blood drinkers. They try to make it out of Mexico City alive with the threat of rival vampires, cops, and criminals closing in on them from all sides. This re-release is also out today.

A Little Sumn Extra

C.L. Polk’s award-winning Kingston Cycle is being adapted for T.V.

The Boston Library is going through it.

Here is an Indigenous book club to join

Fellow Rioter Danika Ellis gives us a way to make sure we don’t just talk about Trans books when there is a tragedy.


It’s been awesome hanging with you! If you want to reach out and connect, email me at erica@riotnewmedia.com or tweet at me @erica_eze_. You can find me on the Hey YA podcast with reigning Queen of YA, Kelly Jensen, as well in the In The Club newsletter.

Until next week!

Categories
In Reading Color

In Reading Color Post Zero

Welcome to the Kissing Books newsletter y’all. I’m P.N. Hinton, your guide to the world of romance novels. I hope your spirit is doing well today. Whether it’s a backlist, new release, or an under the radar delight, I aim to help you find a book or two that you can get lost in. If you’re new to the Kissing Books newsletter, welcome and enjoy your stay. If you’re a long-time reader, welcome back; it’s good to see you again. 

Welcome to the Kissing Books newsletter y’all. I’m P.N. Hinton, your guide to the world of romance novels. I hope your spirit is doing well today. Whether it’s a backlist, new release, or an under the radar delight, I aim to help you find a book or two that you can get lost in. If you’re new to the Kissing Books newsletter, welcome and enjoy your stay. If you’re a long-time reader, welcome back; it’s good to see you again. 

Welcome to the Kissing Books newsletter y’all. I’m P.N. Hinton, your guide to the world of romance novels. I hope your spirit is doing well today. Whether it’s a backlist, new release, or an under the radar delight, I aim to help you find a book or two that you can get lost in. If you’re new to the Kissing Books newsletter, welcome and enjoy your stay. If you’re a long-time reader, welcome back; it’s good to see you again. 

Welcome to the Kissing Books newsletter y’all. I’m P.N. Hinton, your guide to the world of romance novels. I hope your spirit is doing well today. Whether it’s a backlist, new release, or an under the radar delight, I aim to help you find a book or two that you can get lost in. If you’re new to the Kissing Books newsletter, welcome and enjoy your stay. If you’re a long-time reader, welcome back; it’s good to see you again. 

Welcome to the Kissing Books newsletter y’all. I’m P.N. Hinton, your guide to the world of romance novels. I hope your spirit is doing well today. Whether it’s a backlist, new release, or an under the radar delight, I aim to help you find a book or two that you can get lost in. If you’re new to the Kissing Books newsletter, welcome and enjoy your stay. If you’re a long-time reader, welcome back; it’s good to see you again. 

cover of The Dating Playbook

The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon (I can’t wait for this one personally since I thoroughly enjoyed The Boyfriend Project)

The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon (I can’t wait for this one personally since I thoroughly enjoyed The Boyfriend Project)

The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon (I can’t wait for this one personally since I thoroughly enjoyed The Boyfriend Project)

The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon (I can’t wait for this one personally since I thoroughly enjoyed The Boyfriend Project)

cover of The Dating Playbook

The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon (I can’t wait for this one personally since I thoroughly enjoyed The Boyfriend Project)

The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon (I can’t wait for this one personally since I thoroughly enjoyed The Boyfriend Project)

The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon (I can’t wait for this one personally since I thoroughly enjoyed The Boyfriend Project)

The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon (I can’t wait for this one personally since I thoroughly enjoyed The Boyfriend Project)