Part of the magic of books is discovering new places, new cultures, new perspectives, and new characters that change the way we think about and interact with the world. These 14 remarkable contemporary novels by a diverse group of authors will introduce you to a plethora of eye-opening experiences and will greatly enrich your literary diet.
Moving between the Armenian Genocide during the last years of the Ottoman Empire and the 1990s, ORHAN’S INHERITANCE is a lyrical and passionate novel about a young man who sets out to understand why his grandfather left his inheritance to a stranger thousands of miles away.
Inspired by Nigeria’s folktales as well as its war, UNDER THE UDALA TREES is a powerful novel about a girl who is sent away to safety and falls in love with another displaced girl. Neither of their ethnic communities accepts their love and they are forced to learn the price of living a lie.
In this sprawling and engrossing journey, Amina reluctantly returns home when she discovers that her father is facing a terminal illness. But when she arrives, she is forced to confront her family’s painful past. Moving forward and backward in time and from India to New Mexico to Seattle, THE SLEEPWALKER’S GUIDE TO DANCING is refreshingly witty and is told with a nuanced touch.
Afghan-American Nadia Hashimi’s powerful novel is about a young woman in 2007 Kabul who takes advantage of an ancient custom in order to dress and be treated like a boy until she is of marriageable age—a custom her grandmother invoked a century earlier to save her own life. A testament to the disparity of gender roles, THE PEARL THAT BROKE ITS SHELL is a perplexing look at the ongoing struggles of Afghan women.
This story of a mother trying to stay clean and her son, who begins selling crack to support his mom and siblings, is in part based on Mitchell S. Jackson’s experience growing up black in Portland, Oregon (also known as America’s whitest city). A commanding meditation on social judgment, THE RESIDUE YEARS is utterly commanding and a force to be reckoned with.
NEXT YEAR FOR SURE chronicles the tumultuous and often funny year in which a longtime couple experiments with a nontraditional relationship when loneliness persists in the unlit corners of their lives. This fresh novel by Zoey Leigh Peterson, a transgender woman, is imbued with deep humanity.
Weaving Korean myth and modern love, FORGOTTEN COUNTRY is a lush and elegant story of identity, immigration, and familial obligation framed by a family that loses a daughter in every generation.
When the Freeman family moves into a campus apartment at the Toneybee Institute, they are assigned to teach their housemate, a chimp named Charlie, sign language (which they all know). But as an African American family, they find themselves isolated in the all-white community of the Institute. WE LOVE YOU, CHARLIE FREEMAN is a provocative and compelling exploration of America’s failure to find a way to talk about race.
Deep in the heart of Mexico City, Ana copes with the mysterious death of her younger sister and plants a “milpa” (a corn crop) in her backyard—an act that dredges up the grief, secrets, and haunting questions of her neighbors’ pasts as well as her own. UMAMI is a dazzlingly inventive and immersive portrayal of life in contemporary Mexico.