So, what’s wrong with wanting more diversity in your university’s English literature curriculum?
In a bid to encourage more representation of black and ethnic minority authors in her university’s literature course, Cambridge student Lola Olufemi wrote an open letter, signed by dozens of students to academics, asking them to address the lack of diversity within the course. In a worrying trend, certain aspects of the media completely missed the point and misread her actions. We applaud Lola’s efforts and have gone a step further, and put together a list of 10 literary pieces of work that we think should be included on the list.
Maya Angelou, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
This autobiography by Maya Angelou is an absolute blessing. Why? Simply because in this text, Maya shares and highlights how her love of literature saved her which blessed us.
“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill, of things unknown, but longed for still, and his tune is heard on the distant hill, for the caged bird sings of freedom.”
Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, Americanah
Known for her moving talks and inspiring essays, Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie provides a different perspective in literature by depicting the clash of cultures in Americanah as well as the strain of childhood love.
Richard Wright, Native Son
An absolute classic. If you don’t know about Richard Wright, then you need to go to your nearest library right now and read this book. Growing up black, male and living in extreme poverty in Chicago’s Southside in the 1930s, Richard Wright doesn’t hold back on his portrayal of how systemic racism is at the root of black man’s downfall.
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
Unnamed, unidentified and “invisible” and yet the whole text is about the speaker’s life. How is it that a text that doesn’t give much actually gives a lot in the way that it structured and written?
James Baldwin, Another Country
There are no words to describe the vivid eloquence of such an individual’s writing. He is the man that also gave us Giovanni’s Room and Go Tell It To The Moutain. However, Another Country is a text that delves deep into the realities surrounding bisexuality and interracial relationships during a time when both were seen as taboo.
Octavia E. Butler, Kindred
In this sci-fi fiction, Butler engagingly depicts the story whereby Dana, a young black woman, time-travels between her home in California home and a pre-Civil War Maryland plantation.
Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
This story is more than the friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant. It covers love, betrayal and redemption, all amongst the tumultuous backdrop of both Afghanistan and America.
Toni Morrison, Jazz
Toni’s Beloved already appears on the ‘approved’ list, but there’s no reason why we can’t add Jazz too. From the sensual ragtime and explosive events to the solo compositions of each character that fit together to create a whole piece that is Jazz, Toni Morrison effortlessly creates a literary work that mirrors the core element that is jazz.
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
A firm favourite of ours, as described in this review, this is a literary classic! Zora Neale Hurston portrays the life and love of a defiant black woman. By retaining the authentic Southern dialect, this text remains an insightful body of work that naturally contextualises its southern environment.
Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
Roy initially trained as an architect, initially not seeing herself as a writer. While the text focuses on fraternal twins, Estha and Rahel, Roy delves further into their family and even further to societal issues deep rooted in that of India, such as the lingering caste system that continues to create division.