Nonfiction November: Diversity and Nonfiction

Nonfiction November 2014Last year, Lu of Regular Rumination hosted Nonfiction November, a monthlong celebration of all things nonfiction. She brought it back this year with three other co-hosts. This week’s co-host is Becca of I’m Lost in Books, and the prompt is:

Diversity and Nonfiction: What does “diversity” in books mean to you? Does it refer to book’s location or subject matter? Or is it the author’s nationality or background? What countries/cultures do you tend to enjoy or read about most in your nonfiction? What countries/cultures would you like nonfiction recommendations for? What kind of books besides different cultures do you think of as books of diversity?

I loooooove me some diversity in literature. To me, diversity means everything mentioned in the prompt and then some. People are probably quick to think of books by racial minorities or foreign authors when they think of diversity in literature, nonfiction or otherwise, but let’s not forget about other types of diversity, like LGBTIQ literature and books by/about people with disabilities. My list this week goes in different directions; some I’ve read, others I haven’t:


Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama by Diane C. Fujino (2005)

I’m starting with this one in honor of Kochiyama, who died earlier this year. I read the book when I was in grad school, and it always stayed with me. From Goodreads summary:

On February 12, 1965, in the Audubon Ballroom, Yuri Kochiyama cradled Malcolm X in her arms as he died, but her role as a public servant and activist began much earlier than this pivotal public moment. Heartbeat of Struggle is the first biography of this courageous woman, the most prominent Asian American activist to emerge during the 1960s. Based on extensive archival research and interviews with Kochiyama’s family, friends, and the subject herself, Diane C. Fujino traces Kochiyama’s life from an “all-American” childhood to her achievements as a tireless defender of – and fighter for – human rights.

Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag by A. K. Summers (2014)

This is a graphic memoir that popped up on my radar semi-recently; I can’t wait to read it. From Goodreads summary:

First pregnancy can be a fraught, uncomfortable experience for any woman, but for resolutely butch lesbian Teek Thomasson, it is exceptionally challenging: Teek identifies as a masculine woman in a world bent on associating pregnancy with a cult of uber-femininity….Pregnant Butch strives to depict this increasingly common, but still underrepresented experience of queer pregnancy with humor and complexity—from the question of whether suspenders count as legitimate maternity wear to the strains created by different views of pregnancy within a couple and finally to a culturally critical and compassionate interrogation of gender in pregnancy.

Take This Man: A Memoir by Brando Skyhorse (2014)

This one is currently on my nightstand and it looks amazing. From Goodreads summary:

When he was three years old, Brando Kelly Ulloa was abandoned by his Mexican father. His mother, Maria, dreaming of a more exciting life, saw no reason for her son to live his life as a Mexican just because he started out as one. The life of “Brando Skyhorse,” the American Indian son of an incarcerated political activist, was about to begin…It will be over thirty years before Brando begins to untangle the truth of his own past, when a surprise discovery online leads him to his biological father at last.

First Darling of the Morning: Selected Memories of an Indian Childhood by Thrity Umrigar (2008)

I love South Asian literature and I love Thrity Umrigar and I’ve owned this book for a while. Why I have not read it yet, I do not know. Goodreads summary:

First Darling of the Morning is the powerful and poignant memoir of bestselling author Thrity Umrigar, tracing the arc of her Bombay childhood and adolescence from her earliest memories to her eventual departure for the United States at age twenty-one. It is an evocative, emotionally charged story of a young life steeped in paradox; of a middle-class Parsi girl attending Catholic school in a predominantly Hindu city; of a guilt-ridden stranger in her own land, an affluent child in a country mired in abysmal poverty. She reveals intimate secrets and offers an unflinching look at family issues once considered unspeakable as she interweaves two fascinating coming-of-age stories—one of a small child, and one of a nation.

4 thoughts on “Nonfiction November: Diversity and Nonfiction

  1. My first thought when diversity comes up is race or ethnicity, but I think you’re right — diversity means a lot more than that and can encompass the stories we read and the people who tell them. Thanks for this list — I didn’t realize Thrifty Umrigar had a memoir.

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