What to Read in Light of Trump: Celebrating our Diversity

As we approach the 100th day of Donald Trump's presidency, these reading lists unfortunately remain as relevant as ever. We've seen Trump's attempts to implement his campaign promises to build a wall along the border with Mexico and ban Muslims from the country, which has us, as booksellers, thinking about books which push back against his ethno-nationalist view for the country. Here, then, is a short list of books which celebrate the full diversity of this country. 

This is the fourth in a series of posts responding to Trump's election. Don't miss the first three: Understanding What Happened, Fighting Back, and Syllabus Edition.

Exit West
by Mohsin Hamid

Mohsin Hamid's new novel Exit West is a beautiful study of love and life in a world of crisis. The political landscape within which Saeed and Nadia struggle to maintain a day-to-day existence is a timely illustration of the political landscape threatening to envelop our country today; a world where borders are created and destroyed, security and stability are upended in an instant, and the value of a human life is weighed in increasingly untenable terms. --Cara

 

 

Bright Lines
by Tanwi Nandini Islam

A whirlwind, summer-time, coming-of-age novel centered around Ella, a Bangladeshi immigrant, raised in Brooklyn, who falls hard for the daughter of an Islamic cleric. This book feels like a glorious 'f-- you' to anyone who would try to demonize those whose identities lie anywhere in the Venn diagram of immigrant, queer, Muslim, or person of color. A wonderfully 'New York' novel that's fun, sexy and full of heart.--Devon

 

 

Tell Me How It Ends
by Valeria Luiselli

In this short, deeply affecting essay, Valeria Luiselli completely changes how we think of immigration. Based on her experiences as a translator working with undocumented children facing deportation, Tell Me How it Ends turns our attention to the very real lives and stories behind the headlines we scroll through each morning in horror. As she circles around the impossibly complex question “Why did you come to the United States?” you can't help but ask: why do we think of these children as migrants and not as refugees?--Anna

 

 

Look
by Solmaz Sharif

In the defense department’s Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, “look” means not to direct one’s gaze, but to set off a mine. Sharif uses this double valence, the explosive quality of vision, as the opening salvo for an incredible series of poems about war, family, fallout, and desire. The speaker(s) of these poems appropriate military doublespeak into their own stories of fragmentation, detention, and immigration in Iran, Iraq, and the United States. As the American government is (and has always been) in the process of actively deceiving its citizens about the harm its policies cause, poetry like Look helps us to see the truth. --Margaret

 

Texas: The Great Theft
by Carmen Boullosa

Set on the US-Mexico border shortly after the annexation of Texas, this book provides a welcome rebuttal to the nativist fantasy about the border region. It's also a really fun novel featuring a huge cast of characters--Mexicans, Europeans, Comanches, bandits, aristocrats, ranchers, and socialists--who both entertain and illustrate that, even "back then," North America was a diverse place.--Caitlin

 

 

The Refugees
by Viet Thanh Nguyen

This aptly-timed collection of stories from Pulitzer Prize winner, Viet Thanh Nguyen (The Sympathizer), is like an oyster with 8 pearls, each illuminating a life caught between their country of birth and a new homeland. Nguyen's prose is haunting and sharp as glass.--Devon

 

 

 

I Am Not Your Negro
by James Baldwin

I can't say enough good things about the documentary, and I'm glad this book exists, so that I have something physical to press into people's hands as I urge them to read/see it. I Am Not Your Negro includes excerpts from Baldwin's unfinished final work, as well as transcripts from interviews, debates, and lectures.--Devon

 

 

The Domestic Crusaders
by Wajahat Ali

This play offers an intimate look at a Muslim Pakistani-American family. It is funny, relatable, beautiful, and altogether humanist. Well, a celebration of humanity. Worth reading and rereading.--Cody