One of the cool things about becoming an author is that you end up meeting other authors who’ve written similarly themed books. You cross paths at book festivals, academic conferences and other events, and you find yourself becoming a member of a literary community that you never knew existed.
That’s what happened to me after the publication of Fade: My Journeys in Multiracial America in 2006. At the time, a limited number of books dealing with multiracial identity issues had been published, and Fade listed a number of them in the appendix for readers wishing to explore the topic further. Since then, the list of multiracial titles has expanded, so it seems that an update is in order.
So let’s assume that you’ve already purchased a copy of Fade (I know, I know, that's being awfully vain on my part) and you’re looking for additional books that also deal with multiracial, multicultural issues this holiday shopping season. Here are some recommendations – some fiction, some nonfiction – with particular emphasis on those written by my multi-culti peeps:
The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
by Heidi Durrow
Heidi is co-founder of the Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival held annually in Los Angeles. Heidi and I first met in Portland, Oregon, back in the early 1990s and reconnected at a multiracial conference in Chicago in 2007. This is her debut novel. It’s the story of a biracial girl who survives a family tragedy and the identity issues she faces. The book has generated quite a bit of buzz.
Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything In It
by Sundee Tucker Frazier
Sundee and I go way back. I mean, way, way back. We went to high school together in a small, rural college town in eastern Washington state, where our parents worked for the university. It still amazes me to think that two writers on the biracial experience both came out of Pullman, Washington. Anyway, this book landed Sundee on NBC’s Today Show when it was chosen for Al Roker’s Book Club for Kids. The book is aimed at middle school-aged readers, but older folks will enjoy this tale as well. The story is about a 10-year-old biracial boy who does all the things 10-year-old boys do. But things take a turn when Brendan winds up bumping into the white grandfather he has never known.
The Other Half of My Heart
by Sundee Tucker Frazier
This is Sundee’s second novel for young readers which I’ve only started to read myself. But already I’m hooked! It’s about two biracial twins. One is light skinned; the other is darker skinned. They both enter a beauty pageant, and things unfold from there.
by Lori Tharps
Lori’s memoir of self-discovery takes the reader from Milwaukee to Spain and back again, exploring issues of race, romance, culture and identity all along the way. Lori and I met at the Mixed Roots Festival and have since discovered we have a lot in common: we’re both journalists, we were both AFS foreign exchange students as teenagers, we both speak Spanish, we both fell in love in Spain. While Lori ended up marrying the person she met there, I wasn’t that lucky!
by Lori Tharps
This is Lori’s just-released novel, which I haven’t had a chance to read yet. It’s a story about the relationship between a white woman and the black woman she hires to be her child’s nanny.
by Angela Nissel
This book came out at about the same time as Fade, and for awhile, the two books were partnered together on Amazon. Angela is perhaps best known professionally as a writer and producer for the sitcom, “Scrubs.” We met for the first time at the Mixed Roots Festival in L.A. and hit it off immediately, cracking each other up trading one-liners like we’d known each other for years. Angela’s sense of humor is on display in this memoir as she hilariously recounts the plusses and minuses of growing up biracial.
Love in Black and White
by William S. Cohen with Janet Langhart Cohen
William Cohen is a former U.S. senator from Maine who served as secretary of defense in the Clinton administration. He has also authored several novels. We met when we were both hawking our books at the National Press Club’s book fair in Washington, DC in 2006, and our tables were right across from one another. Cohen is white; his wife, Janet Langhart Cohen, is black. This is the story of their lives together.
by Kyo Maclear
This one comes recommended by Lori Tharps. Haven’t read it, and I don’t know the author, but it sounds cool. It’s a children’s book whose central character is a kitchen utensil. His mom’s a spoon, and his dad’s a fork, making him “Spork.” The author is biracial, but it seems the book has broader lessons about just fitting in.
What Blood Won’t Tell
by Ariela Gross
This is probably the most “serious” book on the list. A work of non-fiction, the book examines the history of racial classification in America, particularly “racial identity trials” in which legal issues involving property, freedom, and individual rights turned on questions of racial identity. I don’t know Ariela, but the book appealed to the law student in me.
Find other multiracial "stuff" on my website, www.lewisfreelance.com