damned_colonial: Convicts in Sydney, being spoken to by a guard/soldier (Default)
[personal profile] damned_colonial posting in [community profile] readingthepast
Anyone got tips for finding books from a range of perspectives? Many of the books we've been suggesting so far are by dead white guys (and dead white women). I'd be interested in any tips/ideas/thoughts people have on how to find books from other viewpoints.

[personal profile] rydra_wong suggested the following in comments elsewhere, for finding historical books by people of colour:


Date: 2009-06-03 12:51 am (UTC)
nightmareink: tree branches with white flowers on them (Default)
From: [personal profile] nightmareink
Perhaps if the topic covers something that involves non-whites, like the Caribbean, look for native authors who have had their works translated into English?

Date: 2009-06-03 01:09 am (UTC)
badgerbag: (Default)
From: [personal profile] badgerbag
Here is my fool proof technique. Use the lovely, lovely Internets and extremely biased Wikipedia to find an entry point or two. Then go to a big university library. Find those books. It helps to find htem in dewey decimal and in Library of Congress numbering systems (or whatever other system is in place) Then browse the shelves around that book and you can't fail to find amazing, wonderful, awesome books, hundreds of them. Look for big anthologies. I'm a huge fan of looking for the anthologies from right around 1920 or 1930. They will lead you to works that have dropped from the literary canon and yet are GREAT. I just bet you if I go to the basement of Stanford library (you can get in free to it as a guest easily) and look for Buchi Emcheta and Flora Nwapa I will then find a big range of other interesting novels.

The Palm Wine Drinkard is a great book (and a quick read)

History books are best done the same way because there are some truly horrible and inaccurate and colonialist histories out there. To get a picture you kind of have to triangulate. Anyway, to get a picture of Africa I totally recommend reading Ibn Battuta.

I have to recommend some travellers too though they will be somewhat racist you get a lot of information... read Freya Stark, and also Mary Kingsley's Travels in West Africa, all very good reads!

Date: 2009-06-03 01:18 am (UTC)
nightmareink: tree branches with white flowers on them (Default)
From: [personal profile] nightmareink
One could possibly also look for books on Amazon.com by searching for historical fiction and then narrowing down your selection.

Date: 2009-06-03 01:31 am (UTC)
al_zorra: (Default)
From: [personal profile] al_zorra
Most of my titles are by people of that heritage, and most of them are by poc.

Even the swashbuckler, The Golden Hawk that overlapped with Golden Age of Piracy, is by an African American.

Edie Danticatt is Haitian and of color. Madison has been made an honorary Haitian of color by Haitians, as Ned Sublette has been made an honorary member of the Matanzas rumberos in Cuba, and the Mardi Gras Indians in New Orleans. If one wanted to do a non-fiction Haitian reading, there's the marvelous Avengers of the New World by Laurent Dubois -- of Haitian ancestry. His history of the Haitian Revolution, A Colony of Citizens won the Frederick Douglas Award for history.

Many of the islands hardly have or ever had a publishing industry, like the DR. There aren't many historical novels written about their island then, by illiterate slaves in the 19th century -- part of the tragedy of the Caribbean. Haiti had the most writing because of its connection with France, and that group of people in the middle, the mulattos and then the other, antagonist group (as it was perceived) the free blacks. It's all very complicated. Not just complex, but complicated.

Cuba publishes very few 'entertainment' books. It does a lot of historical romance/fiction on television though.

U.S. publishers are fairly hostile to Spanish language works out of the Caribbean. Nor do they like paying for translation. Editors have flat out told me, re Puerto Rico, for instance, "Puerto Ricans don't read. And nobody else cares."

You can see why Junot Díaz Oscar Wao is SUCH a big deal. We were at the DR's annual Feria del Libros last year when he was the guest of honor. Books were there from all over the Spanish Caribbean and South America, as well as book sellers. You don't see any of these materials here. The one Spanish language bookstore here in Manhattan was forced out of business a few years ago by the rents.

Love, C.

Date: 2009-06-03 01:33 am (UTC)
al_zorra: (Default)
From: [personal profile] al_zorra
And there is that historical novel about the Haitian Revolution, an African Prince and French officer by Victor Hugo, Bug-Jargal, if you want to deal with really old dead white men!

Love, C.

Date: 2009-06-03 01:39 am (UTC)
al_zorra: (Default)
From: [personal profile] al_zorra
I put in a bunch of suggestions in the Africa theme -- many of them by Africans, or as in Maryse Condé's case, she was born in Guadeloupe, but she did live in Africa for a while and wrote some wonderful historical and non-historicals from that experience. Her Segu is particularly wonderful.

Another one is The African, which isn't written by an African (though like Dr. Robert Farris Thompson) Courlander was considered brother by Africans and black caribbeanists -- this is the novel Alex Haley plagerized from for his first section of Roots, and so did Frank Yerby, for his The Dahomeyan -- and both they and Courlander were wrong about Yoruba in North America.

These are the people who began the work that finally put African, and New World diaspora African culture and religon into the discourse as Art and expression of the highest respect.

Love, C.

Love, C.

Date: 2009-06-03 01:44 am (UTC)
naraht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] naraht
Might it be worth looking into wuxia novels, which are a kind of Chinese historical fantasy?

Date: 2009-06-03 11:57 am (UTC)
jest: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jest
LibraryThing can be really useful when you stumble over a library belonging to someone who has whatever specific interest you are looking for. You just browse through whatever else they have tagged.


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