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BIPOC Recommendations for Pride Month

By Nadia Shah and Michelle Ye 


This year we celebrate Pride Month by bringing together a list of LGBTQIA+ stories told with BIPOC voices to highlight a spectrum of experiences and emotions. From reverberating heartache caught in the past to whimsical explorations of self-identity in new worlds, spanning continents and timelines, each of these books illuminates a new adventure. 


Young Adult

The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar 

This book is a delightful rom com centred on Nishat, a Muslim girl who bravely comes out to her parents, only to be met with their disapproval. They insist she can be anyone she wants - as long as she isn't herself. Nishat struggles with maintaining her identity while fearing the loss of her family's acceptance. Her life takes another complicated turn when her childhood friend, Flávia, reappears. Beautiful and charismatic, Flávia captivates Nishat instantly.


However, the two find themselves on opposing sides in a school business competition, both choosing henna as their venture. This brings up issues of cultural appropriation, as Flávia is seen as appropriating Nishat's culture. Amidst the tension of competition and school pressures, Nishat can't shake her crush on Flávia and begins to see her in a different light.


Jaigirdar’s debut novel is a touching and nuanced exploration of identity, culture, and young love. It handles complex themes with sensitivity, providing a refreshing perspective on the intersection of LGBTQIA+ and cultural experiences. Jaigirdar's writing is both engaging and heartfelt, capturing the struggles and triumphs of teenage life.


The Henna Wars is highly recommended for anyone looking for a heartfelt and thought-provoking read. It’s a book that celebrates diversity and encourages readers to embrace their true selves, making it a valuable addition to contemporary young adult literature.




Legend of the White Snake by Sher Lee

Author of Fake Dates and Mooncakes, Sher Lee’s latest novel, Legend of the White Snake, draws from one of the most well-known traditional Chinese folktales and delivers the centuries-old romance with a queer twist. In the West Lake, Zhen, a white snake, consumes a rare spirit pearl that gives him the ability to take on a human form. Seven years later, Prince Xian is desperate to save his mother who has been bitten by a white snake. The only cure is a spirit pearl made by the snake itself. Xian travels to Changle where he is destined to find a white snake, but instead, he meets Zhen, a stable boy who he cannot stay away from. As their connection grows stronger, the shadow of Zhen’s true identity looms and threatens to tear the two apart. 


Literary Fiction 

Last Words from Montmartre by Qiu Miaojin, translated by Ari Larissa Heinrich 

Written by celebrated Taiwanese lesbian author Qiu Miaojin, Last Words from Montmartre is a posthumous, haunting collection of letters that unfold into a passionate love story of two young women across borders and time. Tucked inside the twenty-one nonsequential letters, an anonymous narrator takes readers on a journey between Paris, Taipei and Tokyo, grappling with the complexities of new love, intimacy and rejection. And while the reader is piecing together the puzzle of each letter, the narrator’s collage of characteristics coalesces with heart-wrenching clarity. Despite its short length, Last Words provides its readers with a brief glimpse of what it is to truly confront every feeling and every facet of life. 




No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal

No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal is a novel that blends humour and tenderness to explore the immigrant experience and the search for identity. This book shines in its portrayal of richly developed and relatable characters, making their journeys both touching and engaging. Satyal's prose is beautiful and filled with heart, making the narrative both poignant and uplifting.


What sets this novel apart is Satyal's ability to infuse the story with both depth and lightness, offering readers a look into the complexities of reconciling cultural expectations with personal desires. The friendship between Harit and Ranjana, two mid-forties Indian immigrants facing their own unique struggles, is portrayed with such nuance and empathy that it becomes the emotional core of the story. Their connection provides a sense of hope and affirmation, demonstrating the transformative power of friendship.


Satyal's storytelling is reminiscent of the best works of contemporary fiction, with echoes of Angela Flournoy’s The Turner House and Ayad Akhtar’s American Dervish. This novel is not just about cultural identity but also about the universal human experiences of grief, love and self-discovery.


No One Can Pronounce My Name is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys character-driven stories that are both thought-provoking and entertaining. It is a book that will make you laugh, cry and ultimately feel a deeper appreciation for the diverse tapestries of human life.


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