I’m making it official today: having finished Tiffany D. Jackson’s Grown, which I might still review, and as such having read 62 books by 53 different women of color over the course of 2020, I find myself with no books by women of color on my unread shelf. As such, and since there’s only six days left in 2020, I’m declaring that project officially closed.
I’m calling my reading project for next year #readaroundtheworld. It will last through the entirety of 2021, and may in fact continue beyond that, because there’s no earthly way I manage to complete the globe next year, so we’ll see how much fun I’m having with it and move on from there.
The goal is to read one book from as many countries as I can, plus one book from each of the 50 states.
Now, the rules for the #52booksbywomenofcolor project were pretty simple: if the author considered herself a woman of color, she was. There was one author I ended up removing after initially counting them– Akwaeke Emezi is transgender and gender fluid, and actually removed their name from consideration for a women’s fiction prize in 2019, so their book Pet was removed from the list when I learned a bit more about them, and Rivers Solomon is included but is … also complicated. As far as I know the other 52 women would have no issues describing themselves as such.
This one’s going to be a little bit more formal in terms of what counts and what doesn’t, mostly because my choices for languages are 1) English, and 2) kids’ books in Spanish. So I’m going to have to read either a lot of work in translation or I’m going to have to play around a bit with what from means.
- Authors who are at least second-generation Americans (ie, not immigrants or the children of immigrants) will count for either their current state of residence or the state of their birth. Expat Americans do not count for their current country of residence.
- Americans who are immigrants or the children of immigrants can count for either their current state or the country they immigrated from. In other words, Ilhan Omar can count as an American from Minnesota or a Somali. It is preferable but not required that if a second-generation American is counted for their country of ancestry that the book being read be heavily influenced by or concerned with that country. For example, Daniel José Older and Malka Older, who are brother and sister, are both New Yorkers, and are half Cuban. Malka has, to my knowledge, written no books concerned with Cuba, but Daniel’s book The Book of Lost Saints, which is explicitly about being Cuban-American, would be OK to represent Cuba.
- No book can count for more than one place. No author can either.
- Authors from outside of the United States, in general, will count for their country of residence, with exceptions occasionally made for political refugees. For example– and I just discovered he lives in New York now but roll with this anyway– Salman Rushdie would be a perfectly cromulent Indian author, and Shokoofeh Azar, who is an Iranian refugee currently residing in Australia, would be legal as a choice for Australia but would probably better count as an Iranian.
- Only the identity of the author counts. I don’t expect this to come up, but if I read something in translation it doesn’t matter where the translator is from.
- Where possible, diversity in gender, sexuality and ethnicity will be deliberately sought out.
Any other cases will be adjudicated at that time. I may ask the Internet for advice but it’s my game so I make the rules, and if I can come up with a way to decide Stephen King is from Malawi then dammit he’s from Malawi.
I will keep track of my books via a spreadsheet (I love projects involving spreadsheets!) that I may actually perma-link in the sidebar of the blog and via coloring in countries and states as I read books on the map above, which will be updated on the site periodically. Despite Australia and Canada being divided into provinces/states on the map I’m using, I intend to treat them as unitary countries, so once I read a book by a Canadian the entire country’s getting filled in. I will also probably continue posting individual book entries on Instagram and I’ll keep a shelf for them on Goodreads. You should add me on both places, if you haven’t already.
In the meantime, who are your favorite authors from outside the United States? Give me some names! I’ve got reading to do!