Happy Friday! It’s Classic Remarks time! Check out Pages Unbound to see the rest of the 2016 topics!
This week’s topic: Recommend a diverse classic. Or you can argue that a diverse book should be a classic or should be included in the canon.
As an English Literature major, I had the opportunity to take some really interesting classes including African American Literature, Native American Literature, Language & Culture, etc. So I’m going to list three titles that I really enjoyed that are already classics or will be one day (maybe)! Here we go…
Invisible Man by Ralph Emerson: This won the National Book Award for Fiction in 1953 and rightfully so.
First published in 1952 and immediately hailed as a masterpiece, Invisible Man is one of those rare novels that have changed the shape of American literature. For not only does Ralph Ellison’s nightmare journey across the racial divide tell unparalleled truths about the nature of bigotry and its effects on the minds of both victims and perpetrators, it gives us an entirely new model of what a novel can be.
As he journeys from the Deep South to the streets and basements of Harlem, from a horrifying “battle royal” where black men are reduced to fighting animals, to a Communist rally where they are elevated to the status of trophies, Ralph Ellison’s nameless protagonist ushers readers into a parallel universe that throws our own into harsh and even hilarious relief. Suspenseful and sardonic, narrated in a voice that takes in the symphonic range of the American language, black and white, Invisible Man is one of the most audacious and dazzling novels of our century.
Love Medicine by Louise Erdrich: If I recall correctly, we read 4-5 of Erdrich’s titles in the Lit course I was taking and I really would recommend them all. Love Medicine won numerous awards and is Erdrich’s first novel so it’s a good place to start!
It is the unforgettable saga of two families and how their destinies intertwine over the course of fifty years on and around a North Dakota reservation. Here is the book that heralded the arrival of a major voice in American literature.
Waiting by Ha Jin: This book was very popular when it released and won a National Book Award though I’m not sure it’s considered a classic at this point?
Every summer Lin Kong, a doctor in the Chinese Army, returns to his village to end his loveless marriage with the humble and touchingly loyal Shuyu. But each time Lin must return to the city to tell Manna Wu, the educated, modern nurse he loves, that they will have to postpone their engagement once again. Caught between conflicting claims of these two utterly different women and trapped by a culture in which adultery can ruin lives and careers, Lin has been waiting for eighteen years. This year, he promises, will be different.
And I also highly recommend anything by Khaled Hosseini. I didn’t read him in my Lit classes but his books are amazing.
Which diverse classic (or should-be classic) novel would you recommend?
I hope you all enjoy your long weekend!