FF – Historical Fiction with WOC protagonists

I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen a lot more historical fiction with white protagonists than with protagonists that are women of color. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with white protagonists, but if you enjoy reading diversely and historical fiction and do not live in a country where the dominant race is not white, then you may not have a solid place to start looking for historical fiction with non-white protagonists set in any time other than the Civil War or Civil Rights Movement. Nothing wrong with those eras, but I feel like there are more out there with women of color at their center and this feeling is backed up by some of the outstanding books of historical fiction that I’ve read with WOC protagonists.

The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds (The Malayan Series) - Selina Siak Chin Yoke

This book is about the life of a Malaysian/Chinese woman living at the turn of the 19th century in Malaysia. It’s not a short read, but it’s a good one.

The Pearl That Broke Its Shell - Nadia Hashimi

Set in Afghanistan and straddling the present and the past, this was a great read that explores the life of a bacha posh (a girl who presents as a boy for a while for the convenience of boyless family).

The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness: A Novel - Shin Kyung-sook,Jung Ha-Yun

This was actually one of my Women in Translation Month reads, though I didn’t quite finish it during that month. Still, it was a beautiful and haunting story to listen to and one that I think about a lot. It’s set in North Korea during the 1970’s while the main character worked in a factory.

Girl in Translation - Jean Kwok,Grayce Wey,Penguin Audio

I’m having a hard time pinning down the exact time frame for this one but it’s told in the same fashion as the last, a contemporary woman reflecting on her youth and it was written in 2011, so the 90’s sound about right. It’s her story of integrating into and “making it” in America.

Star Sand - Roger Pulvers

This was my most recent of these books that I’ve read. It’s good in a WWII fairy tale kind of way but not as deep or gripping as the others. Still, it’s a nice story when you’re in the mood for something a little lighter.

Do you read historical fiction? How about with WOC protagonists?

Okay, I see that these are mostly about Asian women with one Middle Eastern exception. Totally gonna work on further diversifying my historical fiction. I’ll probably check back in on it next year with some new recs for it.


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