In a time of great social and political rifts in America, the lessons that books can teach us have never been more important. By exploring difficult topics in great depth through fiction, we can learn how best to process the conflict that occurs when such difficulties become fact. Below are six powerful books centering on race, chaos and political danger, that really speak to the America of today:
1. Cane by Jean Toomer
Written in 1923, this hybrid novel combines poetry, drama and fiction in a lyrical prose to convey the difficulties of African American life, from the haunting perspective of Tooner himself, who wishes to celebrate and assert his own heritage as an African American, instead of being labeled by it.
2. The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
This modern classic follows the journey of a married couple across the North African desert as they battle with the hollow reality of post-war America. The allegorical tale speaks of an inability to comprehend unknown cultures, and the inevitable destruction and ill-fortune that this ignorance can cause.
3. Light In August by William Faulkner
Faulkner delves into the violence and confusion of the human condition that drove racist attitudes in the deep South during the 1930s. Following the life of Joe Christmas and his own chaotic insecurities about race, this novel illustrates how we can naturally end up embodying our fears.
4. Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick
A story considered bordering on crazy by the author himself is now becoming increasingly relevant. Featuring a world reeling from societal collapse, with America becoming both a police state and a reality TV show, this 1984 alternative captures the superfluous madness of society today.
5. Human Diastrophism by Gilbert Hernandez
Centering around the impacts of border walls on those on the outside and the inside, this haunting graphic novel is increasingly topical. This highly celebrated 1987 volume is part of the Love and Rockets series about a Central American village and provides a visually powerful message in relation to today’s America.
6. A Good Man Is Hard To Find And Other Stories by Flannery O’Connor
Through this collection of short stories, O’Connor uses an array of different grotesque and comic situations to present characters despairing in a God-less world. First published in 1953, the title story deals with a four year old child’s search for salvation from this world, whilst increasingly topical issues are discussed in “The Displaced Person,” where the tensions of class and color are explored.
These are six moving, and unfiltered books that provide poignant reading for today’s America, where messages of racial tolerance and the consequences of reckless ignorance are increasingly relevant in our books.
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Featured image via Breitbart
h/t The Week