A little while ago, Colleen Hoover’s ‘It Ends With Us’ was all over the internet, with booktokers, bookstagrammers and booktubers recommending it to their audiences because everyone loves a happy ending, right? However, in no time at all, netizens on Twitter asked to ban her books altogether because of a lack of round characters, romanticisation of domestic abuse, incestual romance and the fact that when someone called her son out for sexual abuse on Twitter, she turned a blind eye to it. Apart from Hoover, Taylor Jenkins Reid is widely appreciated for her infamous book ‘The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo’, and to be honest when I first read that book, I was a big fan too. That was until I realised a white woman wrote the narrative of a woman of colour as though she could grasp the complexities of her character. The book is not entirely bad, in some ways (plotline and storytelling, among others) it is well-deserving of its popularity, but representation is a big question when it comes to understanding why Reid could possibly be problematic.
Instead of reading white women write about lives they do not empathise with, we could easily switch to female authors of colour who are deeply understated. Here are a few books you must try if you need a break from often colourless, delusional world of white women:
"The Color Purple" by Alice Walker
This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is a classic of African American literature. Set in rural Georgia in the early 20th century, it tells the story of Celie, a young black woman who faces abuse and oppression from the men in her life. Through her relationships with other women, Celie finds strength and learns to assert herself in a society that seeks to silence her.
"The Joy Luck Club" by Amy Tan
This bestselling novel explores the relationships between four Chinese immigrant women and their American-born daughters. Through interconnected stories that span generations and continents, Tan explores themes of mother-daughter relationships, cultural identity, and the immigrant experience.
"Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's critically acclaimed novel follows the lives of two young Nigerians, Ifemelu and Obinze, as they navigate love, race, and identity in Nigeria and the United States. Through Ifemelu's experiences as an immigrant and a black woman in America, Adichie sheds light on the complexities of race and racism in contemporary society.
"The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison
This groundbreaking novel by the Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison explores the devastating effects of internalized racism on a young black girl named Pecola Breedlove. Through her haunting and poetic prose, Morrison exposes the violence and trauma of racism and highlights the importance of self-love and community.
"The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy
This Booker Prize-winning novel is a poignant and poetic exploration of love, loss, and family in post-colonial India. Set in Kerala, the novel tells the story of fraternal twins Estha and Rahel and their tragic family history. Roy's lyrical prose and intricate narrative structure make for a stunning and unforgettable read.
"The Namesake" by Jhumpa Lahiri
In this novel, Lahiri tells the story of Gogol Ganguli, the son of Bengali immigrants in the United States. Through Gogol's struggles with identity and the weight of his family's cultural heritage, Lahiri explores themes of assimilation, belonging, and the immigrant experience.
"The Palace of Illusions" by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
This novel is a retelling of the Hindu epic "Mahabharata" from the perspective of its female characters, particularly Draupadi. Through her richly imagined world and complex characters, Divakaruni offers a fresh and feminist take on this ancient story.
Reading female authors of colour is important for a number of reasons. By amplifying the voices of women from underrepresented communities, we gain new perspectives and insights that challenge our assumptions and expand our understanding of the world. It is also a step towards creating a more equitable and inclusive literary landscape and supporting diverse voices in the publishing industry.