What, Library of Congress? No Asian or Native American Books Shaped America?
The Library of Congress recently released a list of Books That Shaped America, along with an exhibit of the same name that will be on display in Washington D.C. until September. Out of the 88 books chosen for their influence on our nation’s culture, not a single title was written by an Asian American or Native American. That’s right. Not a single novel, non-fiction account, children’s picture book, or even cookbook (there are a few of them included, too) focuses on the experiences of these often overlooked ethnic groups.
follow the link to their website to vote for the top three books you feel have been formative for Americans—personally, my top pick was Malcolm X’s autobiography. afterwards you can enter a list of books and authors that should be represented that are not, and there’s a comment box to explain your nominations and your feelings on the list. just to give you some ideas if you choose to do the survey (you don’t have to be a US resident!), here’s what I entered by way of nominations:
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Sherman Alexie)
Ceremony/Almanac of the Dead (Leslie Marmon Silko)
Warrior Woman (Maxine Hong Kingston)
Sister Outsider (Audre Lorde)
This Bridge Called My Back (Gloria Anzaldua & Cherrie Moraga)
The Brief & Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz)
collected works of bell hooks
Custer Died For Your Sins (Vine Deloria Jr)
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou)
I really urge people to vote and to remind the Library of Congress of all the truly amazing books written by people of color in the US. As the article reminds us, Cesar Chavez’s autobiography is the only book by a Latin@, there are no Asian writers, no Native writers, and not enough Black writers (Toni Morrison, Malcolm X, Zora Neale Hurston, and WEB DuBois are the only ones I can remember) represented. This is a list that literally has Ayn Rand on it instead of Maya Angelou. There is something really wrong and really racist about this list, and once again, I really strongly urge people to let the Library of Congress know.