Challenge Accepted: Read Harder 2017
A new year means new year resolutions and challenges. One reading challenge that I love to do is Book Riot’s 2017 Read Harder challenge. Instead of having people focus on a specific number of books, Read Harder challenges people to read different genres or authors that they may overlook. This year, there are 24 prompts for readers, and a complete list may be found here on the Book Riot Goodreads page. Today, I'll address the fourth challenge, to read a book set in Central and South America, written by a Central or South American author.
Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
Oscar Wao is cursed. Not only is he cursed, but he comes from a family that has been cursed for generations - cursed with bad luck, prison, torture and love. Through Oscar, his sister Lola, and his mother Belicia Díaz covers the horrors of Trujillo’s regime to the struggles of first love. This one might be a bit of a cheat, as the book is split between the Dominican Republic and New Jersey - Díaz was born in the Dominican Republic but has lived in the United States for most of his life - but the world that Junot Díaz creates is just too good to be left out.
Dona Flor and her two Husbands by Jorge Amado
Dona’s first husband, Vadinho, was not a good man. Constantly gambling and chasing other women, it wasn’t a surprise when he passed away at Carnival. Reluctant to remarry, Dona instead focuses on cooking and her friends. Teodoro is everything that Vadinho wasn’t - kind, sensible, and safe - and Dona is happy with her second husband. However, that doesn’t stop Dona from dreaming about her first husband, and when he shows up in her dreams, Dona is happy for the amorous attentions of her first husband. Told in flashback and in an quasi-interview with the author, Amado brings wit and magic realism to Bahia.
The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa
Urania Cabral has been unable to stop reliving the Fall of 1961 and the fall of Rafael Trujillo. Also known as the goat, Trujillo’s regime of madness also inspired total fear in the citizens of the Dominican Republic, leading to a counter-movement to replace him that has deadly consequences of its own.The daughter of one of the goat’s confidantes, Urania serves as our narrator and our way into this world of gilded palaces and torture. Based in truth, Llosa delivers a book that is equal parts entertaining, educational, and terrifying.
The Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle (YA)
Margarita Engle brings to life one of Cuba’s leading abolitionists: Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, nicknamed Tula. But that’s not all Tula was. Tula was a book-lover, feminist, and activist who stood up to injustice. Great historical fiction puts you in the shoes of its subject, and reading this book, you’ll feel like you are right beside Tula. Knowing that Tula’s life is just too interesting to stop at one book, Engle also provides an appendix of historical notes to point readers to other sources.
The Seamstress by Frances de Pontes Peebles
Another novel set in Brazil, The Seamstress tells the story of Emília and Luzia, two sisters working as seamstresses in the backcountry, who dream of escaping their rural town. Emilia dreams of a world filled with fashion and high society life, whereas Luzia just wants to escape from the townspeople that judge her differently since the accident that left her scarred as a child. When Luzia is kidnapped, the two sisters are forced apart and live separate lives - until Luzia tracks Emília down and entrusts her with a secret that can help save Luzia’s life.Did you read something else for this challenge? Share it with us on Twitter using @dcpl!