I have a perpetually long list of fiction books I want to read. Within days of leaving a bookshop with a bundle of newly purchased novels, I’m adding more novels to my wish list. Whenever the short lists of fiction awards are announced, I’m reading the reviews and deciding which ones have piqued my interest. Friends are quizzed over which books they have recently read and recommend. Family members are given suggestions for birthdays and Christmas. Okay, I’m obsessed about reading.

Although I read a broad range of genres – historical, literary, mystery, psychological thriller, book club, women’s fiction, alternate history – I want to move outside my comfort zone. The year 2021 is going to be the year I read books that challenge me in new ways, psychologically and emotionally.

Novels focusing on cultural diversity – either within an ethnic group or in between different groups – can reveal the beauty of those cultures and also highlight the tensions, conflicts and suffering. I have only read a smattering of books that deal with these challenging issues: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, White Teeth by Zadie Smith.

Reading fiction allows us to escape into another world, be entertained and educated, appreciate what we have in our lives, gain perspective for what is absent. Whatever our reasons for reading, they should be anything but complacent.

I hope to read some of the following books over the next year:

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
On Beauty by Zadie Smith
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Any recommendations on books that highlight cultural diversity would be gratefully received.


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