What's On the Bookshelf: 4 inspiring novels for the weekend
Literature is our only chance to live inside someone else’s skin, walk in their shoes and see the world from their perspective. Whether it is crime, romance or non-fiction, stepping into another person’s mind and feeling what it is like to be them is an incredibly rewarding experience. At the Emirates Literature Foundation, we like to challenge ourselves every day to read great books that allow us to experience the worlds we do not inhabit. This is a list of great writing that has opened our eyes to the experience of others, inspired by the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Queenie, by Candice Carty-Williams
This debut novel is has found that rare combination of critical acclaim and popularity at the tills. Queenie Jenkins hasn’t had an easy childhood, and she is still struggling with her baggage while her Jamaican British family is of the opinion that black people don’t discuss mental health. Queenie is funny and tough, but also sweet and achingly vulnerable. Issues with race, class, sex and the disintegrating shape of modern relationships are all brought to light so breezily it almost seems unintentional.
Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid
When Emira is accused of kidnapping a white child she is babysitting at a supermarket, it sets of a chain of events. A man films the encounter on his phone, and wants Emira to release the footage. Although she declines, they form a relationship. Alix, the affluent and righteous feminist mother, is well meaning, insecure, and desperate for Emira’s approval and friendship.
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Emira just wants to figure out what she wants to do with her life, ideally with health insurance.
Girl, Woman, Other, by Bernadine Evaristo
Joint winner of the 2019 Booker prize and Longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2020, this book should need no introduction. It weaves a together the lives of twelve black characters; women, girls, and other. We zoom in to take a close look at a particular moment in time, and then the wind blows the reader on to the next snapshot. Friends, family, and lovers, connected by the country that has come to be their own.
Superior; the Return of Race Science, by Angela Saini
This non-fiction book explores the murky history of race science and the ways in which it is being resurrected in the 21st century. Combining science, history and politics, it explains how race maps out biologically and how those on the far-right are attempting to repackage racism. The truth is: race is a social construct. Our problem is we find this hard to believe.
In Superior, Angela Saini speaks to geneticists, anthropologists, historians and social scientists from across the globe and examines the insidious, destructive, and ultimately erroneous nature of race science.
The Emirates Literature Foundation team are talking about all kinds of books by authors from every walk of life over on the Boundless Book Club podcast and you can find it here, and on all your favourite podcast platforms. Don’t forget to check out the YouTube channel for sessions, author interviews and more book chat.