Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz is well-known for his literature prowess, like his acclaimed The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and his newest Islandborn. But did you know that the author is also a voracious reader? Recently, he’s been on tour for his children’s book about an Afro-Latina and it seems that many have been asking him about his favorite books. In a Facebook post on Thursday, he wrote:
Friends, throughout the tour I’m asked what I’ve read recently that I love and like a good nerd I give names and titles but I realize that it would be easier to put them up here so folks don’t need to scribble and deal with my mumbling. Just know this is a banner reading year, one for the record books.
Just as Lin-Manuel Miranda before him, who recommended 12 must-read Latina authors earlier this year, Junot took to his social media to recommend his favorite 18 books so far this year. And yes, he promises that there are more recommendations to come!
1. Elaine Castillo’s America Is Not The Heart
A wonderful debut novel about a Filipino immigrant family settling into life in San Francisco.
2. Tommy Orange’s There There
Another debut novel, this one a dark and comic multigenerational story about twelve characters who all have a different reason for traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow.
3. Naima Coster’s Halsey Street
This is a modern-day story about family, loss, renewal… and the deeply human need to belong.
4. Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X
Fans of slam poetry will absolutely love this novel about an Afro-Latina heroine who tells her story with blazing words and powerful truth.
The gift of failure is an enigma, but this book may just help you figure out why some of humanity’s biggest achievements come after failed attempts.
6. Patricia Engel’s The Veins of the Ocean
A novel about Reina Castillo, whose brother commits suicide after being in prison for a terrible crime, and how she processes her grief and meets a Cuban exile.
7. Tracey Baptiste’s The Jumbies
Jumbies aren’t real… are they? Corinne is about to find out on All Hallow’s Eve night.
8. Luis Alberto Urrea’s The House of Broken Angels
Beloved family patriarch Big Angel summons his clan for one last legendary birthday party, but chaos ensues in the days leading up to the event.
9. Tayari A. Jones’s Leaving Atlanta
This is a tale based on the Atlanta child murders of 1979 that finds young Tasha coping with her parents separation.
10. Aracelis Girmay’s The Black Maria
An American Poets Continuum Series that explores the difficult subjects of history, racism, culture, and the question of human identity.
11. Danez Smith’s Don’t Call Us Dead
A poetry collection with plenty of volatility but, also, sudden joy.
12. Nate Marshall’s Wild Hundreds
A beautiful poetry collection that is, essentially, a love letter to Chicago.
13. Yuyi Morales’ Niño Wrestles the World
An awesome, cunning, spectacular, fantastic children’s book.
14. Jacqueline Woodson’s This Is the Rope
One young girl’s story about how her family relocates to the north during the Great Migration.
15. Edwidge Danticat’s Mama’s Nightingale
A children’s story about immigration and separation.. and a definite must-read.
16. Amy Costales’ Grandpa Used To Live Alone
Mama and the child move into their grandfather’s house… and he is no longer alone.
17. Dixa Ramírez’s Colonial Phantoms: Belonging and Refusal in the Dominican Americas
An intriguing look into the histories and cultural expressions of the Dominican people.
18. Kathleen Belew’s Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America
A quote from Junot Díaz himself is on the book jacket:
Bring the War Home is a tour de force. An utterly engrossing and piercingly argued history that tracks how the seismic aftershocks of the Vietnam War gave rise to a white power movement whose toxic admixture of violent bigotry, antigovernmental hostility and racial terrorism helped set the stage for Waco, the Oklahoma City bombing and, yes, the presidency of Donald Trump.