Diverse Books to Read in an Era of “Alternative Facts”

Last Saturday, January 17th, President Trump issued an executive order banning migration from seven predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East, an order that seemed to echo the deeply engrained prejudices and racial undertones of American politics in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Trump Administration is playing a dangerous political game built on an era of “alternative facts,” a glaring euphemism for outright fabrication and lies. In the midst of a White House regime based on “alternative facts,” here are some recent books that completely refuse to gloss over the harsh truth of our collective past, and in doing so, tell the story of courageous protagonists who refuse to be brought down by the political conflict, terror, and strife that surrounds them.

1. Salt to the Sea

Source: Amazon

This book by Ruta Sepetys follows the lives of four young adults in Eastern Europe during World War II. Joanna, a trained nurse, is marching towards Germany after being separated from her mother and family in Lithuania. Alfred, a young, naïve member of the Nazi navy, works aboard a ship at the port of Germany, while 15-year-old Emilia is fleeing Nazi-occupied Poland. Finally, Florian is on a secret mission heading towards Germany. Their narratives become inextricably intertwined as they flee from the Nazis.

2. Homegoing

Source: Google Books

The debut novel by Ghanaian author Yaa Gyasi follows the lives of two half-sisters, Effia and Esi, who live in different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Esi becomes a slave, captive in Effia's husband’s home. Their lives, once separate, smash together. One of Oprah’s top ten favorite books of 2016, this book is a must-read.

3. The Association of Small Bombs

Source: Huffington Post

Beginning from the perspective of a bomb after its explosion in a heavily crowded market in Delhi, India, this book by Karan Mahajan captures the perspectives of everyone associated with the bomb: the survivors, its victims, their families, and even the perpetrators themselves. A finalist for the National Book Award, this is an important and captivating read in today’s social and political climate.

4. The Underground Railroad

Source: Washington Post

This year’s National Book Award winner and number one New York Times best seller by Colton Whitehead tells the story of Cora, a slave in a cotton plantation who along with another slave, Caesar, decides to escape their bondage through the secret Underground Railroad. Her story is magical, mysterious, and metaphoric as she encounters different worlds throughout her journey. This is an absolute must-read for 2017.

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