Today is Multiculturalism Day here in Canada, and we want to take this opportunity to celebrate diverse voices! From romantic comedies to politically-charged YA novels and everything else in between, here are some books that will make you laugh, cry, and, above all else, think.
The Storm by Arif Anwar
Inspired by the 1970 Bhola Cyclone, in which half a million people perished overnight, Arif Anwar‘s debut novel The Storm seamlessly interweaves five love stories that, together, chronicle fifty years of Bangladeshi history. Spanning multiple countries and timelines, The Storm is a novel of redemption, magic, and the enduring power of love. Perfect for fans of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner and Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance, The Storm is a sweeping epic that is both grounded in history and fantastically imaginative.
The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu
The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore follows five girls—Nita, Kayla, Isabel, Dina and Siobhan—through and beyond a fateful trip to Camp Forevermore, a sleepaway camp in the Pacific Northwest. We see the survivors through the successes and failures, loves and heartbreaks of their teen and adult years, and we come to understand how a tragedy can alter the lives it touches in innumerable ways. Throughout it all, Kim Fu, author of the acclaimed novel For Today I Am A Boy, gives us a portrait of friendship and of the families we build for ourselves—and the pasts we can’t escape.
The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
The Golden Son, the latest novel from the beloved author of Secret Daughter, tells the story of old friends Anil and Leena, inseparable in childhood but distant in adulthood. As Anil’s life starts to crumble around him – he makes a tragic medical mistake, his first love begins to fray, and a devastating event makes him question his worth as both a doctor and friend – he reconnects with Leena as the two of them must weigh the choice between loyalty and love as the repercussions of a fateful decision that was made years earlier begin to resurface.
The Illegal by Lawrence Hill
Keita Ali is on the run – as an athlete and a political refugee. After a disastrous race, Keita escapes into Freedom State, a wealthy island nation run by a government looking to deport all refugees living within its borders. Unable to live peacefully and unable go home, Keita is caught in the middle of society, unseen, forgotten, and unwanted. Especially prescient given our current international political climate, The Illegal is a novel about family, identity, and the strength of the human spirit.
Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
Monday Charles is missing, and her friend Claudia is the only one who seems to notice. Now, you may ask: How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone? Well, I’m not going to tell you… But! What I will tell you is that this is a wonderful book that explores the mystery of one teenage girl’s disappearance and the traumatic effects of the truth. Perfect for fans of E. Lockhart and Gillian Flynn, Monday’s Not Coming will leave you guessing – and, more importantly, thinking – until the very end.
Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
Billed as Pride and Prejudice with a modern twist, Ayesha at Last tells the story of Ayesha Shamsi, a wanna-be poet working as a teacher to pay off debts she owes to her uncle, who lives with her loud and boisterous Muslim family, and who doesn’t want an arranged marriage despite being, at the moment, alone. Still following? Good. Enter Khalid – smart and handsome, but conservative and judgmental – and you have a recipe for one of the most fun novels you will ever read!
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
Nikki, the daughter of Indian immigrants living in West London, has spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community, choosing instead a more Western lifestyle. After the death of her father, Nikki takes a job and everything spirals out of control from there. Faced with the task of teaching creative writing, the burden of being on the verge of going broke, and a class full of Sikh widows mistakenly expecting to learn basic English literacy but instead learning how to write short stories, some of the gossip and erotica from the class spills out into their community and sparks a scandal that threatens them all. Fantastic title aside, this book is a fantastic read for anyone looking for a lively, thought-provoking book.
Sick by Porochista Khakpour
For as long as author Porochista Khakpour can remember, she has been sick. For most of that time, she didn’t know why. Several drug addictions, some major hospitalizations, and over $100,000 later, she finally had a diagnosis: late-stage Lyme disease. In Sick, Khakpour details her grueling, emotional journey – as a woman, an Iranian-American, a writer, and a lifelong sufferer of undiagnosed health problems – through mental illness and addiction. A story of survival, pain, and transformation, Sick examines the impact of illness on one woman’s life while simultaneously highlighting the broken medical system and challenging our concept of illness narratives.
Cold Skies by Thomas King
We’ve written about Thomas King quite a bit lately, but he’s really just that good. In Cold Skies, King returns to the world of beloved ex-detective-turned-photographer Thumps DreadfulWater. This time around, Thumps is enjoying a peaceful retirement with his cat and a few plates of eggs when the body of a man looking to revolutionize water- and oil-digging technology turns up on the eve of a water conference in Chinook and a baffled police department turns to the ex-detective for help, despite his best attempts to refuse…
That Time I Loved You by Carrianne Leung
The suburbs of the 1970s were supposed to be heaven on earth – a place where happiness and status was guaranteed. For one subdivision in Scarborough populated by newcomers from all over the world, however, a series of sudden catastrophic events reveals that not everyone’s dreams come true. Moving from house to house, Leung‘s impressive prose and compelling storytelling combine to explore how difficult it is to be true to ourselves at any age. Also, the opening paragraph of this collection is just about the best paragraph I’ve ever read, so…
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
16-year-old Starr Carter lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The delicate balance established between these two worlds shatters, however, when she witnesses the murder of her best friend Khalil – an unarmed black teenager – at the hands of a white police officer. Caught between media attention, protests, cops, drug lords, and family tensions, Starr tries to find her voice amidst the turmoil of everything going on around her while also trying to stay alive. Equal parts political and emotional, The Hate U Give is a powerful, important novel that will feel frighteningly familiar to anyone paying attention to what’s going on around us.
(By the way, did you see *that* trailer? I get goosebumps just thinking about it.)
The Secrets Between Us by Thrity Umrigar
In this sequel to the national bestseller The Space Between Us, we return to the world of Bhima, where the format servant is struggling against class and misfortune to forge a new path for herself and her granddaughter in modern India. Poor and illiterate, Bhima’s life intersects with Parvati, and the two become friends, confidantes, and business partners, each trying to piece together a new life and learning to stand on their own. The Secrets Between Us is a powerful, dazzlingly perceptive story that evokes the complexities of life in modern India and the harsh realities faced by women born without privilege.
Tell us, Savvy Readers: how are you celebrating Multiculturalism Day? Let us know on Twitter @SavvyReader!
If you, like us, are firm believers in the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement, I’ll point you in the direction of just a few of the tremendous organizations out there working tirelessly to ensure that each and every story is being told and heard:
Happy reading, Savvy Readers! And, for the second time in a week: REPRESENTATION MATTERS