Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Top Ten Tomes Tackling Tough Topics
For once, without too much cogitation, here are the first ten titles that sprung to mind when I asked myself this week's question from The Broke and the Bookish's Tuesday Top Ten blog hop meme. Once a book presented itself to me, I tried to articulate the tough topics on which it might offer its particular perspective. No doubt, I've not provided a comprehensive accounting of all the issues explored in these books, but at least my first thoughts are a start.
I can also state with confidence that these are gritty enough, surprising enough, and well-written enough to stick with you for your entire life, so they have that in common as well.
1. Night by Elie Wiesel. Tough Topics: Genocide, the Holocaust, loyalty vs. survival, cruelty.
The Absolutely True Diary of A Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Tough topics: coming of age today, poverty, living as a Native American in the contemporary U.S.
3. What Is The What by Dave Eggers. Tough topics: Genocide, violence in southern Sudan, violence in the U.S., cruelty, survival, transcendence.
4. The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood. Tough topics: cruelty, betrayal, the impossibility of truly knowing another person, women's deception/manipulation of other women, men's complicity...
5. The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon by Tom Spanbauer. Tough topics: racism, incest, the fluidity of sexuality, prostitution, search for identity, you name it... This little-known novel is as edge-y as edge-y gets, as in some extremely 'adult' content. Be prepared to be stunned, appalled, provoked.
6. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Juno Diaz. Tough topics: obesity, suicide, family dysfunction, obsession, effects of war.
7. Middle Passage by Charles Johnson. Tough topics: cruelty, slavery, the Middle Passage and the repercussions of slavery in the U.S.
8. "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Yes, it's a short story, but it's one that sticks with you. Tough topics: effects of patriarchal culture, feminism, madness.
Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie. Tough topics: Terrorism, colonialism, how and why individuals choose violent or illegal actions, revenge, family dysfunction.
10. The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. Tough topics: U.S. economic colonialism/world dominance, Pakistan's relationship w/the U.S., how a peaceful, tolerant individual becomes radicalized into a desperate fanatic. The best part: It's not what you think...
This time there are far more men on my list than usual. Perhaps it's just my mood today? What are your theories as to why fewer female authors drifted to the top of my "tough topics" list? (I did think of a few more, but they seemed over-worked in the past few top tens, so I chose not to include them this time in favor of perhaps lesser-known or less-frequently-posted titles.)
For what I'm sure will be a particularly wide-ranging set of offerings today, do stop by The Broke and The Bookish to see what other bloggers choose as their "top ten books tackling tough topics".
AND ON A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT NOTE... I'm taking nominations...
Fairy Tale Challenge over at Tif Talks Books, and I need your help:
Please tell me your favorite book and/or movie that features a modernized version of a fairy tale.
I'm especially interested in books and films appropriate for teens and non-Western fairy tales, but any and all ideas for stellar books and films are most welcome and appreciated!
Have you reviewed a modern - or even a classic - fairy tale? Go ahead and leave the link in your comment; I'll be sure to visit.
Thanks in advance for your suggestions: I'm looking forward to catching up on this challenge!
To begin, I've already got two fine texts in the house: Deerskin by Robin McKinley and the DVD version of Terry Pratchett's Hogfather.
Now what comes next? It's up to you!