New Fiction By Women & Non-Binary BIPOC: A Summer Reading Series

Divya 2
  • Course Tutor: Divya Ghelani
  • When: Wednesdays 19:00-21:00
  • Start date: 23 Jun 2021
  • Where: Online
  • Number of Sessions: 7 (fortnightly)
  • Maximum Participants: 12
  • Cost: €140

Divya’s reading series back for a second year running. Think of it as a dream book club, focused on contemporary fiction by non-white women and non-binary BIPOC. Participants will meet online once every fortnight to discuss texts, and will be supported by a curated online forum.

You’ll talk about issues of craft, voice, style, arrangement, taste, canonicity, issues of race and and gender, as well as how you feel about the books and why. Conversations will be expansive, personal, political, and fun – for all you readers and writers out there who love the possibility of a joyful and refreshing summer!

As with last year, Divya will host a bi-weekly online group. She’ll kick off on Wednesday 23 June. The Reading Series takes place on Zoom and is accompanied by a lively Slack channel featuring articles, author interviews, as well as the chance to participate in chat threads while reading for a truly immersive experience.

Divya has selected 6-8 titles:

Book 1  (June 23-24)

Starling Days by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan

Mina, a classicist, searches for solutions to her failing mental health using mythological women but instead finds a beam of light in a living woman.


Book 2 (July 7-8)

Luster by Raven Leilani

An acerbic debut, about a young black woman’s relationship with a rich white couple.


Book 3 (July 21-22)

The First Woman by Jennifer Makumbi

This novel follows Kirabo on her journey to becoming a young woman and finding her place in the world, as her country is transformed by the bloody dictatorship of Idi Amin.


Book 4 (August 4-5)

Strange Beasts Of China by Yan Ge (trans.)

In the fictional Chinese town of Yong’an, monsters and spirits live, almost indistinguisably, alongside humans. Strange Beasts of China follows the narrator, an amateur cryptozoologist, as she attempts to document each type of beast with the help of her former professor and his enigmatic assistant. 


Book 5 (August 18-19)

The God Child by Nana Oforiatta Ayim

Set between Germany and Ghana, The God Child is a coming-of-age story about a young girl finding her freedom in the midst of familial, cultural, and political constraints.


Book 6 (September 1-2)

Plastic Emotions by Shiromi Pinto

Inspired by the life of forgotten feminist icon, Minette de Silva, this novel charts her affair with infamous Swiss modernist Le Corbusier and her efforts to build an independent Sri Lanka.


Book 7 (September 15-16)

The Other Americans by Leila Lalami

A family saga, a murder mystery, and a love story informed by the treacherous fault lines of American culture.


[Note: Summer Begins 21 June and Ends 22 September. This Series is designed to span the entirety of summer – hence 7 books, 14 weeks.]


**Email to reserve your seat.


This series is open to all. Readers/writers who self-define as BIPOC, disability, working class, LGBTQ+, and anyone who feels underrepresented by mainstream publishing are particularly warmly invited.


DIVYA GHELANI holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and an MPhil in Literary Studies from the University of Hong Kong. Her novel-in-progress has been longlisted and shortlisted for four literary awards. She has published short stories and judged story and flash fiction competitions. Her words are in Issue 1 of The Good Journal and she is represented by The Good Literary Agency.


I loved Divya’s course. It was an open, welcoming space that carried both intellectual depth and accessibility, a tricky combination that Divya was able to deliver masterfully because of her depth of knowledge and experience, her warm demeanor and engaging personality, and her skill at navigating a room of people who may have been coming from vastly different backgrounds and experiences. It felt as if everyone left those classes feeling richer for the experience. Also, the choice of books for the course was wonderful. We were examining a range of PoC contemporary novels, from many different perspectives. The space also felt warm enough for us to bring our own personal experiences into the mix, and I always came out of the course with my views on the texts challenged, enhanced, or expanded. It felt as if everyone in the course made valuable contributions. In summary, Divya’s space-holding skills, combined with her intellectual depth and her commitment towards inclusivity made the course a real pleasure to attend, and I’m grateful to have been a part of it. – Ayesha 


“I really loved the Reading Series. The selection of books was incredible and, for me, most of the books were new. Divya prepared well and the discussions were super-interesting!”  – Anon


What I liked the most about this reading series was that there was no pressure to give the right answer or correspond to certain academic standards. Everybody learned from one another. As Divya said, it shouldn’t be “like University” and it sure felt a lot more relaxed and joyful, while still intellectually stimulating. This was the highlight of my corona summer! – Bruna

“The course was just the thing I expected it to be. A whole new world of literature was opened up to me – I was the oldest participant! Divya was hugely enthusiastic about the books she chose for us to read and was open to any level of opinion. I always looked forward to the course regardless of whether I had read the book or not.” MTH


If you asked me 16 weeks ago, I would not have believed I could read 9 novels in 16 weeks, next to everything else. But I did it! And it has been one of the best experiences with @divyaghelani and @thereaderberlin and the other participants of the New Fiction by Women and Non-Binary People of Color book club. I recommend each of these books to all of you. Get started! Looking forward to what Divya will give us all of the joy from words and books around the corner. This was the best gift I have had this year! 🦋 If you ask me which one I liked the most I cannot say. I love them all. [ … ] I am not gonna lie, these books can also uncomfortable and full of pain as they explain how racism and sexism are drenched through everything from academia, to fashion, through work, love, friendship, childhood memories, and parenthood. I know there will be a version of the book club in 2021 I really recommend you save your spot!” – Mette

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