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Authors of Color Challenge

authors of color

Hey lovely readers! I come to you today slightly late to the game (as usual, hehe), but with a two-fold inspiration. There is an awesome blog devoted to reviews of Writers of Color (that is the fantasy tag link :D) that is challenging everyone to read 50 books by people of color. My current goal for the year is 50 books, so to not stress out and let myself read the other books that I had on the TBR, I’ve picked out 5 books from their great collection to read soon. If it goes well, I’ll probably end up adding more to the pile :D. This decision of mine all started from an article encouraging men to read books by female authors to get a different perspective, so I’m interested to see if I get a different perspective from this challenge. I actually have no idea what my reading tends towards, since I rarely investigate the ethnicity/race of the authors that I read.

This challenge also seemed timely given the lovely comments on the recent announcement of the Nebula 2012 finalists because the list was much more diverse than in previous years and with other similar awards. Apparently some commenters were concerned that it had become too diverse and that the white men were in danger of losing their place…. Uh-huh. Any-who, it seems like a great time to up the diversity even more :D. Here are the first five books that I’m going to track down and delight in:

Cast in Shadow by Michelle SagaraCast in Shadow by 

Description: Seven years ago Kaylin fled the crime-riddled streets of Nightshade,knowing that something was after her. Children were being murdered — and all had the same odd markings that mysteriously appeared on her own skin…

Since then, she’s learned to read, she’s learned to fight and she’s become one of the vaunted Hawks who patrol and police the City of Elantra. Alongside the winged Aerians and immortal Barrani, she’s made a place for herself, far from the mean streets of her birth.

But children are once again dying, and a dark and familiar pattern is emerging, Kaylin is ordered back into Nightshade with a partner sheknows she can’t trust, a Dragon lord for a companion and a device to contain her powers — powers that no other human has. Her task is simple — find the killer, stop the murders… and survive the attentions of those who claim to be her allies! — Goodreads

Ash by Malinda LoAsh by 

Description: In the wake of her father’s death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King’s Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash’s capacity for love—and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.

Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief. — Goodreads

Redemption in Indigo by Karen LordRedemption in Indigo by 

Description: Karen Lord’s debut novel is an intricately woven tale of adventure, magic, and the power of the human spirit. Paama’s husband is a fool and a glutton. Bad enough that he followed her to her parents’ home in the village of Makendha—now he’s disgraced himself by murdering livestock and stealing corn. When Paama leaves him for good, she attracts the attention of the undying ones—the djombi— who present her with a gift: the Chaos Stick, which allows her to manipulate the subtle forces of the world. Unfortunately, a wrathful djombi with indigo skin believes this power should be his and his alone.

Bursting with humor and rich in fantastic detail, Redemption in Indigo is a clever, contemporary fairy tale that introduces readers to a dynamic new voice in Caribbean literature. Lord’s world of spider tricksters and indigo immortals is inspired in part by a Senegalese folk tale—but Paama’s adventures are fresh, surprising, and utterly original. — Goodreads

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. JemisinThe Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by 

Description: Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother’s death and her family’s bloody history.

With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Yeine will learn how perilous it can be when love and hate – and gods and mortals – are bound inseparably together. — Goodreads

Moonshine by Alaya JohnsonMoonshine by 

Description: Imagining vampires at the heart of the social struggles of 1920s, Moonshine blends a tempestuous romance with dramatic historical fiction, populated by a lively mythology inhabiting the gritty New York City streets.

Zephyr Hollis is an underfed, overzealous social activist who teaches night school to the underprivileged of the Lower East Side. Strapped for cash, Zephyr agrees to help a student, the mysterious Amir, who proposes she use her charity worker cover to bring down a notorious vampire mob boss.

What he doesn’t tell her is why. Soon enough she’s tutoring a child criminal with an angelic voice, dodging vampires high on a new blood-based street drug, and trying to determine the real reason behind Amir’s request — not to mention attempting to resist (often unsuccessfully) his dark, inhuman charm. — Goodreads

So I’m pumped and I would be thrilled if any of you wanted to join in and read any of these this year too! Have you read any of these books before? Also if you have recommendations for more fantasy books by authors of color to add to my list, I’m all ears :D. I’m not sure how soon I’ll be able to get to them, but I’m definitely excited to be reading all these fresh fantasy ideas!

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings -A

© 2013, Anya. All rights reserved.


  1. Livvy @Nerdy Book Reviews says:

    I wish you best of luck with this. Ash is a pretty good book all around, nothing outstanding, but I enjoyed it nevertheless. And I didn’t realise until after her culture. I have The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin to read too, but haven’t read it yet and didn’t realise about the ethnic background either. Great picks and best of luck! :)

  2. I didn’t read any of the books from your picks, although I have them on my tbr (of course lol). I read ‘The Killing Moon’ by N.K. Jemisin and it was very original fantasy novel with interesting setting (culture resembles mix of African tribes and Ancient Egypt) (and it can be read as a stand-alone).
    Good luck with your challenge. :)

    • Thanks! I added The Killing Moon to the list when it was a Goodreads Choice nominee and a Nebula finalist, can’t say no to that :D

  3. I read the book 3 in that Jemisin series, and loved it. I also just finished The Killing Moon, also by her, and nominated for a Nebula this year – and it was fantastic! I won’t even go into the comments on the SFSignal post of the awards because it was so depressing to see.

    And Carl makes a good point about the covers. And I’m trying to make sure I choose books with more people of color on the cover this year too.

    As for other recommendations – someone said Octavia Butler – Kindred is fantastic. And I’m going to be exploring books by Tananarive Due & Kenya Wright soon – both speculative fiction authors of colors.

    • I just picked up The Killing Moon and Throne of the Crescent Moon from the library last night so that I can try to get some, if not all, of the Nebula nominated novels read before the awards.

      There were some depressing comments over at SF Signal but, as a member of the crew and a fan of the site, let me also point out that that was only a couple (three) responders out of a whole bunch of others who had good things to say. Those people will always exist, sadly, and it is unfortunate that they will take any open forum to share their views.

      • Carl so happy you’re reading all of the nominees – can’t wait to start seeing your reviews.

        • I was very excited to find Throne of the Crescent Moon on sale (don’t know why they had it reduced price, crazy!) so it’s on the more urgent TBR, since I’m also trying to get at least some of the nominees read haha! I will definitely be checking out The Killing Moon at some point this year as well, if not before the awards (so many books *faints*) I’m also excited for Carl’s reviews :D And thanks for the great discussion everyone, this has been exciting to read!

          • And can I just say how excited I am that the nominees aren’t GIANT books. Throne is less than 300 pages, and I think all of the books are 450 or less. Making an attempt to read them all before May while also doing all the other reading I am wanting to do actually seems doable.

          • Great point! Though I still feel a little overwhelmed as always ;-) It’s perhaps also an interesting reflection of the direction the genre is going >.>

  4. I absolutely loved NK Jemisin and The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. I read the sequel – same thing. I still need to read Book 3. My SIL has it…..a 3 hour drive away.

    Octavia Butler and Samuel Delaney are two awesome SF writers of color – blast from the past. Excellent stuff.

  5. Yes, there were a couple of real jerks over on that SF Signal post that embarrassed the majority of us. Ugh!

    I’m reading Karen Lord right now, her latest, and wow is it good. I’ll be interested in going back and reading Redemption in Indigo at some point.

    Not to purposefully create controversy, but isn’t it interesting that out of 5 books by ‘persons of color’ that you’ve posted, three have what look like white people on the cover?

    • Yeah, I noticed the white folks on the cover too. Hopefully as we move forward in time, and sooner rather than later, representing non-Caucasians on book covers won’t even be a second thought. It will simply be: Let’s have the cover reflect what the author wrote.

      • I was frankly kind of surprised with the cover of Karen Lord’s newest book for that same reason.

        • Whitewashing on book covers is no longer a subtle form of racism – it is blatant.

          • I haven’t finished the book yet so I’m not entirely sure whether or not it was a purposeful design choice meant to convey something about the story itself, so I’m reserving judgment until I am finished. I also need to search around online to see if Lord has said anything about it.

          • The cover whitewashing problem is something I’ve been reading about a lot lately. Unfortunately authors generally have very little say in their covers, and even sometimes the publishers get bullied around by the bookselling giants. There was also an interesting point raised that cover artists can only work with the model art that they have available and there is simply a lot more stock art with white models than with non-caucasian models, so if there is a specific pose or body type that they are going for, they might be limited that way. I’m not saying that that is a good excuse, since they should fix this by calling for more models of color (which is a whole problem of itself), but until that problem gets fixed, it’s another monkey wrench.

            It brings up the question of what we as consumers should do about it. I don’t really want to stop buying books with caucasian models that don’t represent the characters, because I still want to support the author and read the awesome story. But then I’m encouraging the publishers etc to keep doing what they are doing. Is it enough to just support the book covers that get it right?


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