March Monthly Book Club Titles - La Bastarda, Poukahangatus, Ma and Me: A Memoir

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Each month, choose from a carefully handpicked selection of books by diverse authors with diverse representation that you likely haven't heard of before! 

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March 2023 Book Club Picks:

1. La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obono (Equatorial Guinean Author | Literary/ Contemporary | Fiction | Paperback | Pub: April 01, 2018)

The first novel by an Equatorial Guinean woman to be translated into English, La Bastarda is the story of the orphaned teen Okomo, who lives under the watchful eye of her grandmother and dreams of finding her father. Forbidden from seeking him out, she enlists the help of other village outcasts: her gay uncle and a gang of "mysterious" girls reveling in their so-called indecency. Drawn into their illicit trysts, Okomo finds herself falling in love with their leader and rebelling against the rigid norms of Fang culture.

Content WarningsHomophobia, Misogyny, Rape, Incest, Sexual assault, Domestic abuse, Death of parent, Adult/minor relationship, Infertility

2. Poukahangatus: Poems by Tayi Tibble, also known as Te Whānau ā Apanui/Ngāti Porou (Indigenous/Māori, New Zealand| Feminist Poetry | Hardcover | Pub:  July 26, 2022)

The American debut of an acclaimed young poet as she explores her identity as a twenty-first-century Indigenous woman. Poem by poem, Tibble carves out a bold new way of engaging history, of straddling modernity and ancestry, desire and exploitation.

Intimate, moving, virtuosic, and hilarious, Tayi Tibble is one of the most exciting new voices in poetry today.

In Poūkahangatus (pronounced "Pocahontas"), her debut volume, Tibble challenges a dazzling array of mythologies--Greek, Māori, feminist, kiwi--peeling them apart, respinning them in modern terms. Her poems move from rhythmic discussions of the Kardashians, sugar daddies, and Twilight to exquisite renderings of the natural world and precise emotions ("The lump in her throat swelled like a sea that threatened to take him from her, and she had to swallow hard"). Tibble is also a master narrator of teenage womanhood, its exhilarating highs and devastating lows; her high-camp aesthetics correlate to the overflowing beauty, irony, and ruination of her surroundings.

These are warm, provocative, and profoundly original poems, written by a woman for whom diving into the wreck means taking on new assumptions--namely, that it is not radical to write from a world in which the effects of colonization, land, work, and gender are obviously connected. Along the way, Tibble scrutinizes perception and how she as a Māori woman fits into trends, stereotypes, and popular culture. With language that is at once colorful, passionate, and laugh-out-loud funny, Poūkahangatus is the work of one of our most daring new poets.

Content Warnings: Racism, Colonization, Animal death, Cursing, Death, Vomit

3. Ma and Me: A Memoir by Putsata Reang (Cambodian Author/Rep | Memoir | Hardcover | Pub: May 17, 2022)

When Putsata Reang was eleven months old, her family fled war-torn Cambodia, spending twenty-three days on an overcrowded navy vessel before finding sanctuary at an American naval base in the Philippines. Holding what appeared to be a lifeless baby in her arms, Ma resisted the captain's orders to throw her bundle overboard. Instead, on landing, Ma rushed her baby into the arms of American military nurses and doctors, who saved the child's life. "I had hope, just a little, you were still alive," Ma would tell Put in an oft-repeated story that became family legend.

Over the years, Put lived to please Ma and make her proud, hustling to repay her life debt by becoming the consummate good Cambodian daughter, working steadfastly by Ma's side in the berry fields each summer and eventually building a successful career as an award-winning journalist. But Put's adoration and efforts are no match for Ma's expectations. When she comes out to Ma in her twenties, it's just a phase. When she fails to bring home a Khmer boyfriend, it's because she's not trying hard enough. When, at the age of forty, Put tells Ma she is finally getting married--to a woman--it breaks their bond in two.

In her startling memoir, Reang explores the long legacy of inherited trauma and the crushing weight of cultural and filial duty. With rare clarity and lyric wisdom, Ma and Me is a stunning, deeply moving memoir about love, debt, and duty.

Content Warnings: Homophobia, War, Child abuse, Death of parent, Ableism, Child death, Transphobia, Bullying, Confinement

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This month's special gift is a Tuma's Books coaster picturing amazing, diverse books for your future to-be-read pile. Your order comes with ONE coaster, add additional coasters to make a set for $5 each. 

Tuma's Books Coaster with diverse books