Books by BIPOC Authors to Get You in the Festive Spirit
By Michelle Ye, Jia Wen Ho, Shaniah Shields and Leanne Francis
With winter on the horizon, we wanted to compile a list of Christmas books written by BIPOC authors to give you that festive feel. Below you can find book recommendations ranging from romance to fantasy to give you a warm and cosy feel this winter.
A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli (Berkley, 2021)
Written by Sonya Lalli, this heart-warming winter romance sets the scene for the cosy festive period. A Holly Jolly Diwali follows twenty-nine-year-old Niki Randhawa, a practical thinker and art lover who became a data analyst for stability. After losing her job, Niki travels from bustling Mumbai to the beaches of Goa for her friend’s wedding. Whilst celebrating Diwali, the festival of lights, Niki meets free-spirited musician Sameer Mukherji and feels sparks fly, helping her take a leap of faith in love.
Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory (Headline Publishing Group, 2019)
From the author of The Wedding Date comes a light-hearted read which is laced with humour and festive magic. When Vivian accompanies her daughter on a work trip to England, she is excited to take in the British landmarks. She does not expect to meet Malcolm, a charming private secretary who will make this trip one to remember. Royal Holiday is a slow burn romance full of swoon-worthy dates and is perfect for cosying up on a cold winter’s night.
The Christmas Clash by Suzanne Park (Sourcebooks Fire, 2022)
A rivals-to-lovers romance, mixed in with a love for East Asian cuisine, and Christmas cheer, Suzanne Park’s The Christmas Clash has a little bit of everything. Chloe and Peter come from rival families waging culinary war in the Riverwood Mall food court. The two find themselves even closer when Chloe becomes the mall’s Santa Land photographer working across from Peter’s virtual reality North Pole. When eviction notices are sent right before Christmas, Chloe and Peter are forced to put their differences aside to save both their families.
The Holiday Switch by Tif Marcelo (Underlined, 2021)
Winter break for high school has just began, and Lila Castro, a Filipino American girl, is working part-time at a local gift shop so that she can save money for the school of her dreams. She meets frustrating cute Teddy, the shop owner's nephew, who becomes her co-worker. But they can't get along, if Lila is type A, then Teddy is type “Anything but Lila’s Way.” One day, on a shift, they accidently switch phones, and learns that the other is hiding a big secret. And perhaps, people that keep secrets together, stick together.
Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi (Pan Macmillan, 2019)
If you like magical realism, folktales and mythology, Gingerbread is the novel for you. Written by bestselling author Helen Oyeyemi, this fantasy fiction follows seemingly ordinary schoolgirl Perdita Lee and her mother, Harriet, who live in a fascinating gold-painted apartment with verbal vegetation. In the land where the Lee’s are from, their family gingerbread is adored by Harriet’s long-lost friend Gretal Kercheval. Whilst setting out to find Gretal, Perdita hears another side to her mum’s story. With eccentric characters and cinnamon-spiced sentences, this whimsical tale takes inspiration from some much-loved classic children’s stories.
Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata. Translated by Edward G. Seidensticker (Penguin Random House, 2022)
Recently re-published as part of Penguin’s Little Clothbound Classics Collection, Snow Country is a wistful and beautifully composed novel of love and its limits. Kawabata is a Nobel Prize recipient, with Snow Country being cited as part of his sheer talent and mastery of short story fiction. A little masterpiece, the story is set against the backdrop of a snowy Japan and examines the caprices of the human condition. Prepare to be encapsulated in the intimacy of this wintry novella which stings with painful lyricism.
In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende (Simon and Schuster, 2017)
For a novel that proves adventure and romance is for all ages, look to Isabel Allende’s, In the Midst of Winter. A Brooklyn snowstorm causes Richard Bowmaster, a sixty-year-old human rights scholar, to collide with Evelyn Ortega’s car. This moment of car trouble leads to a sweeping narrative where Evelyn, young, Guatemalan, and undocumented, finds herself in need of help. Unable to assist her alone, Richard reaches out to Lucia Maraz, a sixty-two-year-old lecturer visiting from Chile. Together, this unlikely trio travel across space and time, navigating between tragedies of the past and the potential for love in the future.
Blackmail and Bibingka by Mia P. Manansala (Berkley Books, 2022)
It’s Christmas time, and things looking up for Lila Macapagal, with her new business, The Brew-ha Cafe is finally making profit. However, her most special holiday is ruined with the arrival her estranged cousin, Ronnie, who has not returned for the past fifteen years. Aunty Tita Rosie is thrilled with her son, Ronnie's return, but Lila knows something is not right. Sure enough, someone ends up dead, and Ronnie is accused with murder. It's up for Lila to find out, whether her own family would actually be the murderer.