Monte Schulz, the author of Metropolis, has five recommendations for books to read when acknowledging the role that discrimination plays in our world today.
Best Books For Zero Discrimination Day!
1. Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
Black Like Me appeared in 1961 by a noted author, John Howard Griffin, in the years before the Civil Rights Act. Griffin was mordantly curious about the nature of racism below the Mason-Dixon Line, how prejudice against people of color manifested in their lives, and the attitudes of whites in the Deep South. He needed to see, if at all possible, how it felt to be black in that part of America where racial segregation was not only rampant but institutionalized across both races.
So, he went to a dermatologist and had his skin darkened temporarily, and then set off across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia, a journey that led him to some understanding of how hatred of people different by skin pigment poisoned hearts and souls of too many fellow Americans. As it evolved, his odyssey through the South was harrowing, dangerous, and depressing. Yet it revealed the extent to which discrimination by race in America was pervasive and also heroic in how those suffering its indignities managed to grow and survive and create lives of enduring worth and courage. You can get the book here! 📖
2. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron
Sophie’s Choice by William Styron is one of the great novels of the last century. His story describes one of the most immense tragedies of our history, a crime so brutal it seems incomprehensible even now. Narrated by Stingo, a Virginian and Marine veteran, the novel tells the story of Sophie Zawistowska and her lover, Nathan Landau, fellow boarders with Stingo at a house in Brooklyn.
Sophie’s tale is about her horrific walk through Poland during the regime of Nazi obscenities and the nadir of human experience at Auschwitz. Here, in Styron’s magnificent novel, we are shown the ugliest results of discrimination on a scale of inconceivable depravity. That “choice” Sophie is forced to make compels us to ask ourselves how we expect to live in a world where basic humanity seems fleeting and love asks questions we long to answer. You can get the book here! 📖
3. The Spider’s House by Paul Bowles
In Paul Bowles’ novel, The Spider’s House, a different sort of discrimination is demonstrated across national and cultural identities in Morocco circa 1954. The narrative describes a relationship between an American novelist and a fifteen-year-old Arab boy in perpetual conflict with the French colonial administrators. The American is frustrated by a foreign culture he cannot fully appreciate and understand.
The young Arab feels himself to be almost a stranger in his own country according to his fanatical Islamic upbringing. In the meantime, an American beauty both attracts and repulses the American novelist’s approaches, both relationships so peculiar to the Arab boy that he recognizes his own place in their world, which is clearly second rate, both culturally and as a form of nationality. The Spider’s House is a fabulous example of mistrust among races and cultures and the perpetual discrimination that evolves: foreign vs. native, male vs. female, young vs. old, nationalist vs. religious. You can get the book here! 📖
4. Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie
Indian Killer is a novel about the racial divide and discord written by Spokane-Coeur d’Alene Native American novelist Sherman Alexie. More than a century of a conqueror’s arrogance has led to pernicious discrimination against native people in the American Northwest (and, indeed, across the continent) and has created bitterness and disregard. This novel explores both anger and patronizing attitudes that bloom into violence and fear created by the racial conflicts of winners and losers of a long-ago encounter.
Prejudice in our nation is not simply black vs. white but also indigenous vs. invaders, with the survivors left to negotiate a trail of racial hatred, broken treaties, and unfulfilled promises in a land where peace is elusive and insecure futures. Who belongs here, anyhow? Who has a right to live and thrive? And who decides? History belongs to the winner. Or does it? You can get the book here! 📖
5. The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter was written when Carson McCullers was just twenty-three years old, an astonishing achievement for someone so young. In this novel, she catalogs the trials of three adult characters in a small Georgia town of the 1940s, a time of war and prejudice, and broad discrimination of the “different.” She offers us a boardinghouse deaf-mute, John Singer, whose dear heart contains love for a mentally challenged lover in another town. As the book evolves, Singer becomes a receptacle for the angst of those around him without anyone recognizing his own profound loneliness.
Meanwhile, teenager Mick Kelly, still treated as a child, even having arrived at puberty, sees herself discriminated against by sex and age as she searches for beauty and love. And the black physician in town, Dr. Copeland, has long recognized the futility of that age-old racial struggle against white oppression in the Deep South. His hostility of resentment burns in his soul each day he rises from bed to confront the demons of discriminatory injustice. The hopelessness of his story is contrasted to that of his son, who fails to survive the horrors of the day. You can get the book here! 📖
⭐ About Our Guest Author: Monte Schulz received his M.A. in American Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He published his first novel, Down by the River, in 1990, and spent the next twelve years writing a novel about the Jazz Age. Monte is also a composer, songwriter, and producer whose most recent album is titled “Seraphonium.”
In 2010, he became the owner of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. Monte is endlessly curious and well-versed in world history and theology. He is fascinated by the style and use of innovative language and can be caught engaging in provocative, philosophical conversations about big, far-reaching, imaginative, ideas and worldly perspectives. His father is the late cartoonist Charles M. Schulz.
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