Books Pop Culture

5 women of color authors you have to start reading this year

Everyone has heard about Gloria Naylor, Maya Angelou, and Alice Walker.  But I want to focus on recent novels that feature women of color as the main point of view, written by incredible women themselves.

Every one of the authors listed below have novels that were published within the last three years and are absolutely slaying the patriarchy by focusing on their personal experiences as a female during this era.

1. Roxane Gay

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Gay writes for film and television as well as stories.  She is a featured contributor to the  and an editor for PANK.   She also just recently wrote a script for Marvel. Gay is a beautiful example of a WOC author displaying honest and real women in her short stories and other works.

Her most recent novel, “Difficult Women” came out in 2017 and is already a hit.  This book is a collection of stories that show women and the complexities of their lives.  Her novels tend to be ferocious and hard-hitting about feminism.  This novel involves a mother attempting to avenge her child’s death through non-traditional ways.  Gay attempts to write about what is in the world around her, and explores the truth of that world even if it may be harsh.

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2. Pheobe Robinson

Robinson lives in Brooklyn and is an actress, writer and comedian.  She has been on tons of shows like MTV’s Girl Code and Comedy Central’s Broad City. She is well known for her podcasts, Sooo Many White Guys and 2 Dope Queens.  She has also written for “Last Comic Standing” and “White Guy Talk Show.”

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Her novel, You Can’t Touch My Hair and Other Things I Still Have to Explain is an incredible collection of essays about all different kinds of issues in today’s world.  She tackles race, gender and pop culture.  She mostly focuses on being a black woman in the United States.

While in college, she was the only black person in the class and noted that when slavery came up everyone looked to her.  She has incredibly strong opinions on issues like femininity and body issues and provides a great voice through her book.

3. Han Kang

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Han Kang was born in South Korea and lives there still today.  She has won awards for her two popular novels, The Vegetarian and Human ActsThe Vegetarian was her first novel to be translated into English and has since changed her readers through her incredible novels.

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Kang tells the story of two sisters through three sections in The Vegetarian. The story gets interesting when one sister decides to divert from religious norms and become a vegetarian.  The relationship between the two sisters becomes increasingly tough and stressful for them both with different twists and turns. She explores violence and the consequences of imperialism in Korea.

Writers who can be honest and present a story like this of two sisters struggling through life together but apart is powerful and should be spread to many more languages still. She tells the story through two men and then her sister, which gives the audience an intense look on the view of women in this culture and society as well as from the eyes of her sister.

4. Margo Jefferson

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Margo Jefferson is currently a professor at Columbia University.  She is well-known for being a critic, but she has also worked as a writer and written screenplays.  She was a critic for years with the New York Times and also worked as an editor at Newsweek.  She won the Pulitzer Prize for criticism in 1995.

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Her recent novel, Negroland: a Memoir is the story of her life growing up in Chicago in an affluent black family during the ’50s and ’60s.  She uses this book to jump around times in memories and struggles to convey the tragic and difficult memories that she copes with.

Jefferson’s memoir is an important look into America’s past and includes the need for and strength that can be found in retracing one’s footsteps.  She shows a complex look into growing up black in Chicago, but also remaining a member of the privileged class.

5. Sara Farizan

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Faizan is the daughter of Iranian immigrants who grew up in Boston, but now lives in San Francisco.  She is known specifically for her queer young adult literature.  She is fascinating because of her unique outlook on the world from immigrant parents and growing up to realize that she is a lesbian.  She is known for writing about women who are discovering themselves in unusual settings.

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Her most recent novel, “Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel” is illuminating.  The story revolves around a girl who is growing up in Boston and attending a private school, much like Farizan herself.  It is important for individuals growing up, whether they are struggling to integrate because of their parent’s immigration, or their sexual identity or gender identity and so on, for them to understand that they are not alone.

By Meagan Foy

As the Senior Life Editor, Meagan is proud to help showcase women's voices on issues that matter.