12 Booklist December 15, 2016 www.booklistreader.com
As a first course preceding our Spotlight on Diverse Books in the February 1 issue, we showcase a sampling of notable works, nonfiction and fiction, that range across cultures.
By Melissa Febos.
Feb. 2017. 320p. Bloomsbury, $26 (9781632866578). 818.
Febos’ (Whip Smart, 2010) second book is a collection of self-aware,
stylish, autobiographical essays on love, addiction, and inheritance. Exploring her embarrassment over what she sees as her endless need for
love, she touches on her Native American, Puerto Rican, and European
heritages. She draws from her youth, growing up on Cape Cod with
a veritable (and often absent) sea captain father, from her post-high-school-dropout days spent high on heroin, and from classical philosophy,
psychology, mythology, and literature. In the longest essay in the collection, which shares the book’s title and occupies more than half its pages
with its 62 vignettes, she bonds with the Native American birth father to
whom she’d always been contentedly disconnected while painfullly coming to terms with her relationship with a woman she loves obsessively.
Febos harnesses language, moods, actions, and settings with precision. A
professor of creative writing, she stuns with sentences that are a credit to
her craft and will no doubt inspire her readers. —Annie Bostrom
African American Folklore: An Encyclopedia for Students.
Ed. by Anand Prahlad.
2016. illus. Greenwood, $100 (9781610699297); e-book (9781610699303). 398.2089.
The importance of chronicling, studying, and understanding African American folklore can never really be overstated. As editor Prahlad
points out in the introduction, white Americans wrote most of the
history books, and the information that was included on African
Americans was often biased. This offering, with its comprehensive
range—with entries from Cheerleading to Porch sitting to Stagolee
to Juneteenth—shows off the diversity and contributions of African
Entries are arranged in alphabetical order, but a “suggested research
cluster” in the beginning of the book places like themes together for
researchers. Within each entry, words are bolded if there is another section in the book with further information that, again, is helpful for the
researcher or casual reader. Many entries are concise but not lacking information, and each one comes with further-reading bibliographies. A
longer bibliography and an index make up the back matter. There are a
few scattered black-and-white photographs, but entries that are about
the visual arts would be better understood with more examples of those
arts. Prahlad sets out to have an encyclopedia that celebrates the spirit of
African Americans without shying away from the history that shaped the
culture. In this, he can be proud. —Erin Linsenmeyer
Born Both: An Intersex Life.
By Hida Viloria.
Mar. 2017. 352p. Hachette, $27 (9780316347846). 616.6.
Writer-activist Viloria was born to South American immigrant parents
Latin@ Rising: An Anthology of Latin@ Science Fiction and
in 1968 in Queens with sexual anatomy that wasn’t “typically” male or
female. Viloria was raised as a girl and, aside from knowing early on that
s/he (the author’s chosen pronoun) had crushes on he/r female friends,
didn’t feel outside-the-norm. After a traumatic pregnancy at 20, s/he
learned that he/r larger-than-average clitoris placed he/r on a spectrum of
people known as “intersex.” S/he moved to San Francisco, enjoying he/r
ability to emphasize whichever masculine or feminine aspects felt right
on any given day and the sex and dating that went with it. After meet-
ing other intersex people and learning of the horrific “treatments” most
had endured as infants to fall plainly on one side of the gender binary,
Viloria felt compelled to fight for he/r community. S/he outed he/r in-
tersex status more publicly, appearing in documentaries and on TV news
programs and international conference panels in service of the rights and
acceptance of intersex people. Viloria’s personal, positive, vibrant, and
emotional work of advocacy will educate and affirm. —Annie Bostrom
YA: As a teen, Viloria found an androgynous safe haven in Ziggy
Stardust, Grace Slick, and Prince; today’s teens could find the same
in he/r. AB.
Ed. by Matthew David Goodwin.
Jan. 2017. 272p. IPG/Wings, paper, $16.95 (9781609405243). 810.8.
Editor Goodwin compares this anthology of “Latin@-penned” science fiction and fantasy to a mixtape or playlist, for younger readers,
that ebbs and flows “through the loud and the brash, the quiet and the
thoughtful.” Like any good mixtape, Goodwin’s slim volume starts with
an attention-grabber, Kathleen Alcalá’s “The Road to Nyer,” which sets
the tone for the reader’s journey. Stories range from stunning one-pagers
(Pedro Zagitt’s “Circular Photography”) to long, slow-burning, languorously tense tales (“Difficult at Parties,” by Carmen Maria Machado).
Fans of Daniel José Older will be pleased to see a story from his first
collection, and readers looking for some hard sf will find what they seek
in Marcos S. Gonsalez’s “Traditions.” Poetry, stories told through images
only, and a script show the wide range of storytelling here. Sloughing off
the worn veil of magical realism, Goodwin’s anthology amplifies a new
generation of Latin@ speculative fiction voices. —Carolyn Ciesla
My Life, My Love, My Legacy.
By Coretta Scott King and Barbara Reynolds.
Jan. 2017. 368p. illus. Holt, $30 (9781627795982). 323.092.
King and journalist Reynolds met in 1975, forming a firm friendship during which Reynolds interviewed the wife of Martin Luther King
Jr. many times. Eventually, their conversations coalesced into a formal
agreement for Reynolds to assist the civil rights icon
in writing a first-person memoir. The result is wholly
focused on King’s life and contains intimate thoughts
about her childhood, marriage, and professional aspirations. King is remarkably candid as she addresses
rumors of her husband’s infidelity, her frustrations
with the often sexist attitudes of the movement’s leaders, and the immense pressure she felt standing at the
center of history. King also shares her struggle to balance the needs of her family with her own often overlooked music career.
Diverse Books Roundup