It has never been a better time to be diverse, and that goes for writers as well. Through campaigns like #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #OwnVoices, the publishing scene is slowly but surely shifting to accommodate a much broader range of work by a broader range of people. Whether you are into magical realism, contemporary, court dramas, young adult coming-of-age narratives or fantasy, this list of 10 diverse books by women being released in 2019 has you covered.
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Angie Thomas’ New York Times bestselling debut novel, The Hate U Give took the YA world by storm, loved by readers and critics alike and was even successfully adapted. Now, she returns to her hip-hop roots and pays homage to the art that kickstarted her love of storytelling in her 2019 release. On the Come Up tells the story of 16-year-old Bri who dreams of becoming the greatest rapper of all time and must do all she can, against all odds (homelessness, her mother losing her job, being from a poor working-class black background), to see that dream through, not just for her, but also her family.
The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
Inspired by an old Chinese folktale about men who turn into tigers, The Night Tiger is set in 1930s Malaysia and brings together 11-year-old Ren, a houseboy and Ji Lin, an apprentice dressmaker who also moonlights as a dancehall girl but actually dreams of being a doctor. Together, they have 49 days to fulfill Ren’s master’s dying wish – to be reunited with his severed finger. This is as much gripping page-turner as a vivid narrative infused with magical realism.
A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum
For fans of The Kite Runner and Everything I Never Told You comes this intergenerational, women-centric story told in overlapping narratives between America and Palestine. Deya and her siblings have been raised by their paternal grandparents in Brooklyn, following their parents’ death in a car accident. Now, as per tradition, the 18-year-old is increasingly pressured to find a suitable Muslim boy and “settle down” even as she is finally starting to find her own voice and question the patriarchal community she grew up in, even in the United States. Years previous, back in Palestine, we get to know her mother, Isra, who is having to make her own difficult decisions.
The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See
The New York Times bestselling author of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane is back with a story about friendship and female divers on a small Korean island. Mi-ja and Young-sook come from very different backgrounds but grow up together on Jeju Island; later becoming divers in their village’s all-female team led by Young-sook’s mother. Can their close bond survive the strains of danger, history and factors out of their control?
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
Angie Kim draws on her own experiences as an immigrant, a lawyer and the mother of a son plagued by mysterious illnesses in her debut, Miracle Creek. Set in rural Miracle Creek, Virginia, this is a courtroom drama about an immigrant couple running an experimental medical treatment and a young single mother accused of killing her autistic son.
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
From the writer of the wildly successful contemporary novel, The Kiss Quotient comes another story about finding love in the unlikeliest of places and realizing that love comes in many different forms. Khai Diep is autistic and believes that he has no feelings, so doesn’t bother with relationships. His worried mother heads back to Vietnam to find him a suitable wife. Enter Esme Tran with plenty of problems of her own – she’s from the Ho Chi Minh City slums and is of mixed-race. Will they find a way to fall in love despite all the obstacles in their way?
The Satapur Moonstone by Sujata Massey
Perveen Mistry, the heroine from Sujata Massey’s critically acclaimed debut, The Widows of Malabar Hill, returns in this second offering about the adventures of the only female lawyer in Bombay. Mistry travels to the princely state of Satapur deep in the Sahyadri mountains to offer counsel to royal ladies who are prohibited in consulting with a male. What she doesn’t expect is to find herself at the heart of a vendetta that requires all of her wits if any of them are to get out alive.
Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
This is the modern-day Muslim adaptation of Pride and Prejudice that you never knew you needed. Told through the eyes of Ayesha Shamsi, a girl from a close-knit South Asian family in Toronto, Ayesha At Last mirrors its Austen counterpart while staying true to its Muslim and contemporary identity. Author Uzma Jalaluddin also writes a funny parenting column titled “Samosas and Maple Syrup” for the Toronto Star.
Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Who doesn’t want to read a dark fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore? Casiopea Tun lives in a small town in southern Mexico, feeling far removed from the Jazz Age engulfing the developed world. Her life changes drastically when she accidentally releases the spirit of the Mayan God of Death who wishes to recapture the throne from his backstabbing brother and requests Casiopea’s assistance. Thus begins an epic adventure that will push Casiopea beyond anything she has ever known. Does she have what it takes to escape alive?
Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao
Another young-adult offering from the author of American Panda introduces us to 17-year-old Ali Chu. Ali is the only Asian in her middle-of-nowhere Indiana school before new kid Chase Yu arrives. Suddenly she has someone who not only understands where she comes from but is an active ally in fighting the macro and microaggressions they both face. Until her mother forbids their burgeoning relationship and Ali sets out to find the reason. The book gets its name from the 19th-century Chinese folktale, The Butterfly Lovers, which is intertwined with Ali’s fate.
*Disclosure: The links above are affiliate links. These picks are editorially selected, but if you purchase, She Reads may get something in return. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.