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Multicultural Literature in the United States Today

09 February 2009

This is part of the eJournal USA issue “Multicultural Literature in the United States Today.”


Bloom, Harold, ed. Asian-American Writers. New York: Chelsea House, 2009.

Bona, Mary Jo and Irma Maini, eds. Multiethnic Literature and Canon Debates. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006.

Botelho, Maria J. and Masha K. Rudman. Critical Multicultural Analysis of Children’s Literature: Mirrors, Windows and Doors. New York: Routledge, 2009.

Cutter, Martha J. Lost and Found in Translation: Contemporary Ethnic American Writing and the Politics of Language Diversity. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2005.

East, Kathy and Rebecca L. Thomas. Across Cultures: A Guide to Multicultural Literature for Children. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2007.

Gates, Pamela S. and Dianne L. Hall Mark. Cultural Journeys: Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2006.

Gilton, Donna L. Multicultural and Ethnic Children’s Literature in the United States. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2007.

Lai, Him Mark, Genny Lim, and Judy Yung. Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1919-1940. Seattle : University of Washington Press, 1991.

Nelson, Emmanuel S., ed. The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Multiethnic American Literature. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2005.

Norton, Donna E. Multicultural Children’s Literature: Through the Eyes of Many Children. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall, 2001.

Regier, Willis G., ed. Masterpieces of American Indian Literature. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005.
Note: The five complete and unabridged works collected here are parts of a long and passionate testimony about American Indian culture as related by Indians themselves.

Individual Authors

Abu-Jaber, Diana. The Language of Baklava. New York : Pantheon Books, 2005.
Memoir of growing up with a gregarious Jordanian father who loved to cook.
Sample text: http://catdir.loc.gov/catdir/enhancements/fy0622/2004056828-s.html

Alarcón, Daniel. War by Candlelight: Stories. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2005.

Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. New York: Little, Brown, 2007.
In his first book for young adults, based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by acclaimed artist Ellen Forney, that reflect the character’s art, Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation.
Sherman Alexie Website: http://www.fallsapart.com/

Agha, Shahid Ali. A Nostalgist’s Map of America. New York: W.W. Norton, 1997.
Sample text: http://www.nortonpoets.com/ex/alianostalgists.htm

Agha, Shahid Ali. Call Me Ishmael Tonight: A Book of Ghazals. New York: W.W. Norton, 2003.

Agha, Shahid Ali, ed. Ravishing Disunities: Real Ghazals in English. Middleton, CT: Wesleyan University Press; Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 2000.

Agha, Shahid Ali. Rooms Are Never Finished. New York: W.W. Norton, 2001.
Sample text: http://www.nortonpoets.com/ex/aliaroomsare.htm

Agha, Shahid Ali. The Country Without a Post-Office. New York: W.W. Norton, 1997.

Agha, Shahid Ali. The Half-Inch Himalayas. Middleton, CT: Wesleyan University Press; Hanover, NH, 1987.

Amin, Dina A. Alfred Farag and Egyptian Theater: The Poetics of Disguise, with Four Short Plays and a Monologue. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University, 2008.

Ansary, Tamim. West of Kabul, East of New York: An Afghan American Story. New York: Picador, 2003.

Arana, Marie, ed. The Writing Life: Writers on How They Think and Work: A Collection from the Washington Post Book World. New York: Public Affairs, 2003.

Arana, Marie, American Chica, Two Worlds, One Childhood. New York: Dial Press, c2001.

Arana, Marie. Cellophane. New York: Dial Press, 2006.

Arana, Marie. Lima Nights. New York: Dial Press, 2009.

Burns, Carole, ed. Off the Page: Writers Talk About Beginnings, Endings, and Everything in Between; introduction by Marie Arana. New York: W. W. Norton, 2008.

Carpio, Glenda R. Laughing Fit to Kill: Black Humor in the Fictions of Slavery. New York: Oxford University, 2008.

Díaz, Junot. Drown.New York: Riverhead Books, 1996.

Note: The author’s debut story collection.

Díaz, Junot. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. New York: Riverhead Books, 2007.

Early, Gerald L. One Nation Under a Groove: Motown and American Culture. Rev. and updated ed. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2004.

Early, Gerald L. This is Where I Came In: Black America in the 1960s. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003.

Gass, William H., Naomi Lebowitz, and Gerald Early. Three Essays: Reflections on the American Century. St. Louis: Missouri Historical Society, 2000.

Ilibargiza, Immaculée, with Steve Erwin. Led by Faith: Rising From the Ashes of the Rwandan Genocide. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2008.

Ilibargiza, Immaculée, with Steve Erwin. Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2006.

Jin, Ha. A Free Life. New York: Pantheon Books, 2007.

Jin, Ha. Waiting. New York: Pantheon Books, 1999.

Jones, Tayari. Leaving Atlanta. New York: Warner Books, 2002.

Jones, Tayari. The Untelling. New York: Warner Books, 2005.

Karim, Persism M., ed. Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas, 2006.

Karim, Persis M. and Mohammad Mehdi Khorrami, eds. A World Between: Poems, Short Stories, and Essays by Iranian Americans. New York: George Braziller, 1999.

Kenan, Randall. The Fire This Time. Hoboken, NJ: Melville House, 2007.

Kenan, Randall and Amy Sickels. James Baldwin. Philadelphia, PA: Chelsea House, 2005.

Kenan, Randall. Let the Dead Bury the Dead. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992.

Kenan, Randall. Walking on Water: Black American Lives at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century. New York: Knopf, 1999.

Sample text: http://catdir.loc.gov/catdir/samples/random043/98041730.html

Lee, Jennifer 8. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food. New York: Twelve, 2008.

Marshall, Ann, ed. Home: Native People in the Southwest; with poetry by Ofelia Zepeda. Phoenix, AZ: Heard Museum, 2005.

Nguyen, Bich Minh. Stealing Buddha’s Dinner: A Memoir. New York: Viking, 2007.

Power, Susan. The Grass Dancer. New York: Putnam’s, 1994.

Power, Susan. Roofwalker. Minneapolis, MN: Milkweed Editions, 2002.

Sharma, Akhil. An Obedient Father. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000.

Shteyngart, Gary. Absurdistan. New York: Random House, 2006.

Shteyngart, Gary. The Russian Debutante’s Handbook. New York: Riverhead Books, 2002.

Sample text http://www.loc.gov/catdir/enhancements/fy0720/2001047676-s.html

Vapnyar, Lara. Broccoli and Other Tales of Food and Love. New York: Pantheon Books, 2008.

Vapnyar, Lara. There are Jews in My House. New York: Pantheon, 2003.

Sample text http://www.loc.gov/catdir/samples/random045/2003042975.html

Zakaria, Fareed. The Post-American World. New York: W.W. Norton, 2008.

Zepeda, Ofelia. Ocean Power. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1995.

Zepeda, Ofelia. Where Clouds Are Formed. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2008.

Web sites

Academy of AmericanPoets
The Academy of American Poets supports American poets and fosters the appreciation of contemporary poetry through a wide variety of programs, including National Poetry Month (April); online educational resources providing free poetry lesson plans for high school teachers; the Poetry Audio Archive; and the Poets.org Web site. http://www.poets.org

African American Literature and Culture Society
Seeks to study African-American literature within the context of contemporary theory and traditional discourse. Expands the appreciation of African-American literature. Encourages students’ participation in the study of African-American literature and culture.

American Library Association
American Library Association promotes library service and librarianship, including “Diversity, Equity of Access, Education and Continuous Learning, Intellectual Freedom, and 21st Century Literacy.”

American Literature Association
A coalition of societies devoted to the study of American authors.

Before Columbus Foundation
Promotes contemporary, American multicultural literature. It derives its name from the book They Came Before Columbus, which maintains that American literature was already evolving in each American ethnic group before they actually came to North America.

Celebrating Cultural Diversity Through Children’s Literature
Dr. Robert F. Smith, Professor Emeritus, Towson University, Towson, MD
This Web site contains links to annotated bibliographies of children’s multicultural books appropriate for kindergarten through grade six. Cultural groups currently listed include African Americans, Chinese Americans, Latino/Hispanic Americans, Japanese Americans, Jewish Americans, Native Americans, and Korean Americans.

The Kennedy Center’s Annual Multicultural Children’s Book Festival
The Kennedy Center invites all children, parents, and educators to its annual free Multicultural Children’s Book Festival. Books come to life in this afternoon-long series of readings by authors, illustrators, and guest celebrities; book signings; and other interactive performances and events.

Library of Congress
Center for the Book
The center is a partnership between the government and the private sector. The Library of Congress pays its staff salaries, but it depends primarily on tax-deductible contributions from foundations, individuals, and corporations to fund its projects, publications, and reading promotion events and programs.

National Book Festival
The first National Book Festival, a collaboration between First Lady Laura Bush and the Library of Congress, held September 8, 2001, on the grounds of the Library of Congress and the U.S. Capitol, was such a success that it became an annual event. People came from all over the country to celebrate the diversity of books and of reading.

Native American Authors
This Web site provides information on Native North American authors with bibliographies of their published works, biographical information, and links to online resources including interviews, online texts, and tribal Web sites.

Organization of Women Writers of Africa (OWWA)
Nonprofit organization that establishes links between women writers from Africa and the African Diaspora.

PEN American Center
U.S. branch of the world’s oldest international literary and human rights organization. International PEN was founded in 1921 in direct response to the ethnic and national divisions that contributed to the First World War. PEN American Center was founded in 1922 and is the largest of the 144 PEN centers in 101 countries that together compose International PEN and is comprised of 3,300 professional members who represent the most distinguished writers, translators, and editors in the United States.

US-Africa Literary Foundation
Promotes the interests of African writers and makes African writings known and appreciated throughout the world.


The First Generation
Producer: National Educational Television and Radio Center, 1957.
Length: 29 minutes
Notes: Our Nation’s Roots series
Director: Neal Finn.
Summary: Dramatizes the problems confronting the first generation of an immigrant family, the conflicts between a first-generation Polish American and his father, and the influence of native-born children of immigrant families in various fields of endeavor.

Literature and Language of Our Immigrant Kinfolk
Producer: WCBS-TV and New York University
Distributor: National Educational Television and Radio Center, 1957
Length: 29 minutes
Notes: Our Nation’s Roots series
Director: Neal Finn
Summary: Explains how many cultures became one because of the immigrant impact on American life; tells how the social novel became a feature of American literature; and discusses the influence of the immigrant upon the American language.

A Time for Stories
Producer: Public Service Broadcasting Trust for and in partnership with Prasar Bharti Corporation
Distributor: Public Service Broadcasting Trust, New Delhi, 2004
Director: Rajani Mani
Summary: Documentary film captures Katha Utsav, a literary convention held in January 2004 in New Delhi and through the participants explores the necessity of art and issues of communication and personal identity.
In English, Hindi, and Malayalam with some English subtitles.
Performer: Narration, Atul Kumar; editing, Ankur Mayank, Vikram Russel.

Smoke Signals
Producer: Shadowcatcher Entertainment
Director: Chris Eyre
Writer: Sherman Alexie (Screenplay/book)
Synopsis: The film portrays the relationship of a young Indian man, Victor Joseph, and his father, Arnold Joseph. Victor Joseph and a friend from the Indian reservation, Thomas Builds-the-Fire, travel to Arizona to collect Arnold Joseph’s effects after learning of his death. The older man’s life is recalled by the men in flashbacks, but their recollections differ. Victor learns things about his father he never knew, and comes to terms with his memories and his loss.