9 Must-Read Novels With Diverse Bicultural Characters

9 Must-Read Novels With Diverse Bicultural Characters

Recommended reading alert! You will want to place on your TBR list all 9 of these must-read novels with diverse bicultural characters.

1. The Wonderful World of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

“Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd who—from the New Jersey home he shares with his old world mother and rebellious sister—dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, finding love. But Oscar may never get what he wants. Blame the fukú—a curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, following them on their epic journey from Santo Domingo to the USA. Encapsulating Dominican-American history, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao opens our eyes to an astonishing vision of the contemporary American experience and explores the endless human capacity to persevere—and risk it all—in the name of love.”

2. Our House in the Last World by Oscar Hijuelos

“Hector Santinio is the younger son of Cuban immigrants living in New York. Caught between his mother’s anxieties and his father’s macho expectations, he struggles to find an identity for himself while wrestling with both cultural and personal isolation. Meanwhile Horatio, his older brother, falls into the womanizing and drinking pattern demonstrated by their father. This is a sweeping, poignant tale of the immigrant experience in New York—as a homeland the brothers have never visited exerts an undeniable influence on them both.”

3. Don’t Let Me Die in Disneyland by J.A. Marzán

The smart, some might say smartass, Eddie Loperena explains as honestly as a Harvard lawyer can the appearance of his having committed a crime in this picaresque memoir of his Newyorican life in “the country I was offered.”

4. Life in the Damn Tropics by David Unger

Set in strife-torn Guatemala City in the early 1980s, this sophisticated, quasi-comedic tale depicts the decline and near-fall of a prominent Guatemalan Jewish family. In the face of military rule, terrorism, and sabotage, Marcos learns the truth about his brother Aaron, only to find that sibling secrets can be every bit as dangerous as civil unrest.

5. Reservation Blues by Sherman Alexie

“In Reservation Blues, National Book Award winner Alexie vaults with ease from comedy to tragedy and back in a tour-de-force outing powered by a collision of cultures: Delta blues and Indian rock.”

6. Under the Feet of Jesus by Helen Viramontes

“With the same audacity with which John Steinbeck wrote about migrant worker conditions in The Grapes of Wrath and T.C. Boyle in The Tortilla Curtain, Viramontes presents a moving and powerful vision of the lives of the men, women, and children who endure a second-class existence and labor under dangerous conditions in California’s fields.”

7. Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth

“In addition to the title novella, set in New Jersey, Goodbye, Columbus contains the five short stories “The Conversion of the Jews,” “Defender of the Faith,” “Epstein,” “You Can’t Tell a Man by the Song He Sings,” and “Eli, the Fanatic.” Each story deals with the concerns of second and third-generation assimilated American Jews as they leave the ethnic ghettos of their parents and grandparents and go on to college, to white-collar professions, and to life in the suburbs.”

8. Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

“Thirty years since its original publication, Ceremony remains one of the most profound and moving works of Native American literature, a novel that is itself a ceremony of healing. Tayo, a World War II veteran of mixed ancestry, returns to the Laguna Pueblo Reservation. He is deeply scarred by his experience as a prisoner of the Japanese and further wounded by the rejection he encounters from his people. Only by immersing himself in the Indian past can he begin to regain the peace that was taken from him. Masterfully written, filled with the somber majesty of Pueblo myth, Ceremony is a work of enduring power.”

9. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Namesake is the story of a boy brought up Indian in America. ‘When her grandmother learned of Ashima’s pregnancy, she was particularly thrilled at the prospect of naming the family’s first sahib. And so Ashima and Ashoke have agreed to put off the decision of what to name the baby until a letter comes…”


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