It’s important to me to make an effort to include diverse voices in my reading. Because I read so much older fiction, this can sometimes take extra effort – publishing has been largely under the control of the white establishment, and while writers of color have made significant inroads, ensuring that I experience diverse perspectives still takes some attention.
This is why there are, actually, two ways to encourage the bingo players to look for diversity in their reading – the Diverse Voices square and the Amplification spell card, which allows any player to substitute in a book written by an author from a historically marginalized group to fill any square on their card.
Over the years, I’ve had Diverse Voices on my card several times. For people who are interested in genre fiction written by authors of color, the following is a list of possibilities:
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I read this one for In the Dark, Dark Woods, using the Amplification Spell. In addition to having a glorious cover, it was an interesting Lovecraftian gothic tale. It was also everywhere last year, and was Moreno-Garcia’s breakout book.
The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle. Victor Lavalle is an author I am not familiar with and, interestingly, this novella also had Lovecraftian themes, as a retelling of the Lovecraft short story The Horror at Red Hook. After I read the novella, I found and read the source material. I am not a Lovecraft fan, and can say unequivocally that, in my opinion, Lavalle’s rendering blew the doors off the original. Sorry not sorry.
Black Water Rising by Attica Locke. I recently got into Attica Locke – a black author who is also an accomplished screenwriter. She is best known for her Highway 59 series, featuring Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger. This was her first novel, and was really enjoyable – an interesting environmental mystery. I have read everything she has published, and am waiting, excitedly, for her next Highway 59 novel. Word is that the series may be adapted for television.
Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel Jose Older. Somewhat oddly, there isn’t nearly as much urban fantasy set in New York as there is in London. Nonetheless, this intriguing offering about an “inbetweener,” a partially resurrected from a life he doesn’t remember, is worth reading. There are two other books in the series. So many books, so little time.
Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho. This was such a fun read – a magical farce set in Regency England. I really need to reread it, and then get my hands on the second book in the series.
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse. I remember that I read this one, but it must have been after I blacked out my card, because I can’t find it in my records. Anyway, this is a piece of urban fantasy written by a Native American author, with Native American mythology at the center. Really good.
This year, I’m planning to read at least a couple from this list:
- The Master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark. I have this on hold at my library and I am hopeful that it will be available before Halloween. If I don’t get to read it this year, I’m sure I’ll be able to get my hands on it next year.
- Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse. Also on hold, although I may actually buy this one since I bought the first in the series.
- Dread Nation by Justina Ireland. Alternate history set during the Civil War with a young black woman as protagonist taking out zombies with her weaponry? Yes. Right now.
- Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley. This has been on my TBR for at least a decade. I have a paperback copy stuffed in a bookshelf somewhere.
- The Fire Keeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley. This is a YA thriller that takes place in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula, at Lake Superior State University.
- Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby. I recently read S.A. Cosby’s second book, Razorblade Tears, and was riveted by his characters. I’ve heard good things about this one, too.