University of Minnesota
Voices From the Gaps

Voices From the Gaps' home page.


Arrival of the Snake Woman by Olive Senior
Different characters are at the center of each story, however, a few basic themes run throughout the entire book. Senior's writing style is strong, powerful and direct; these qualities make her stories and characters come alive. The changing role of women, traditions and appearances are the blood running through the veins of these stories.

Baby Mother and the King of Swords by Lorna Goodoson
Lorna Goodison's only collection of short stories, Baby Mother and the King of Swords, navigates the affairs of characters whose lives have become emotionally enveloped in situations such as poverty, marriage, pregnancy, and love.

Beka Lamb by Zee Edgell
Beka Lamb was written by Zee Edgell and published in 1982. The novel takes place in Belize while the country is in the midst of a cultural and social shift. Edgell peppers the story with breathtaking imagery and colors and offsets them with the cold realities of living in Belize.

Bird at my Window by Rosa Guy
The streets of Harlem are a prison, holding inside of its walls all the dreams and potential of people too poor, hopeless, or tired to claw their way out to a life more like the one they envisioned as children. This picture sets the tone for Rosa Guy's novel, Bird at My Window

Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danicat
Edwidge Danticat's Breath, Eyes, Memory is a heartbreaking yet hopeful tale of the women of the Caco family; Danticat's fictional characters and their interactions and histories become windows for the reader into what must be the Haiti of Danticat's memory.

Bronze: A Book of Verse
For a black female, the world in 1922 was prejudiced, naïve, and full of despair. No woman could tell of the trials and tribulations women went through better than Georgia Douglas Johnson in her book Bronze: A Book of Verse (1922).

Bruised Hibiscus by Elizabeth Nunez
In her novel Bruised Hibiscus, Elizabeth Nunez confronts the differences between passion and power, black and white, and male and female.

Deals With the Devil, and Other Reasons to Riot
Deals With the Devil, and Other Reasons to Riot is a collection of essays that attempts to educate, empower, and motivate the reader; at the same time, this collection appears to have been written as a sort of catharsis for author Pearl Cleage.

Designs of the Night Sky by Diane Glancy
Each chapter in the novel appears as a separate moment for Ada, allowing the reader to take in her experiences as she relates them in first person: some are specific excerpts from things that she is reading in the library, like the Indian Removal log and the history of the Cherokee; some are her personal thoughts on and development of this cultural knowledge; and some are her interactions with her family and life during this period of her realization of her place in the Cherokee tradition.

Drifting of Spirits, The - by Gisele Pineau
In a miserably small town of jealous and vengeful villagers, anything can happen. If one has no particular desire to be cursed for all eternity with a stutter, a clubfoot or an overly fertile phallus, one will realize the presence of the ancestral spirits and the power of their protection. These same such curses are only an inkling of what Pineau's massive collage of characters experience in her novel, The Drifting of Spirits. This passionately poignant tale of Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe, encourages readers to listen to the spirits and gain deeper understanding in the nature of life on earth, She possessed a knowledge that everyone held in high regard in this country which is searching for it's history lost in the depths of the dark days of slavery, on a boat from Colombo, in memories of Brittany or what is left of the memory of someone a hundred years old (201)

English Lessons and Other Stories by Shauna Singh Baldwin
At once insightful and honest, English Lessons and Other Stories explores the courage and adaptability necessary to maintain an Indian identity while living in an English-speaking country. Baldwin also emphasizes the importance of family in Indian culture as each tale revolves around familial interactions. By looking at the changing familial roles Indian women face today, Baldwin offers a candid glimpse into the challenges faced by Indian women at home and abroad.

Erased Faces by Graciela Limón
Through the use of historical and cultural information, Limón develops a very interesting background for her novel. She also uses this information to introduce and follow Adriana, Juana, and Orlando in their fight for independence. Three themes-- betrayal, oppression, and survival-- flow throughout the novel. With the use of these themes, Limón isolates and unites each of her characters.

Exile According to Julia by Gisele Pineau
Exile According to Julia is a novel about longing to belong, longing for stability, longing for a sense of self, a home. This autobiographical work is Gisele Pineau's third novel and a beautiful tribute to the grandmother who provided her with pieces of this precious belonging, and in return Pineau bears tender witness to this grandmother, “Man Ya” (a.k.a. Julia of the title), revealing her joyous secrets of life in the process.

Faces in the Moon by Betty Louise Bell
This book is an adults search for connection with the child she once was. In the first chapter, we are introduced to the personal struggle of the narrator, the adult Lucie. Lucie has distanced herself from her childhood, and the real protagonist of the novel is the young Lucie, whom the narrator describes as "the child whose place I have taken"

Father of the Four Passages by Lois-Ann Yamanaka
Father of the Four Passages is a quick, easy read with a mixture of first and third person narrations and a variety of letters written by and for the main character Sonia. Letters arrive from different parts of the world from her father, Joseph, who has abandoned his family to go on a self-searching quest for himself and for God.

Fisher King, The - by Paule Marshall
Paule Marshall's novel The Fisher King deals with several issues: generational differences, love, and jazz music being some of them. The novel is set in 1984 with reminiscences back to the height of the jazz era, the 1940s and 50s.

Forsaken Brother, The
Overall, The Forsaken Brother is a faithful (as far as we know) transcription of a Chippewa folk tale. The language of the piece is not overly flowery, but is a clear and succinct telling of the story.

Frida by Barbara Mujica
The novel Frida, by Barbara Mujica, tells the life story of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. Like a biography, the book recounts the life of Kahlo's stormy marriage to Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, her affairs with both men and women, and the illnesses and accident that left her pained and permanently disabled. However, unlike most biographies, this fictionalized tale is told through the memories of Cristi, Fridas younger sister.

Geographies of Home by Loida Maritza Perez
Loida Maritza Perez fearlessly depicts the realities of abuse and mental and physical suffering of an immigrant Dominican-American family in her first novel, Geographies of Home. Perez's simple language yet descriptive detail makes the reader feel immersed within this intricate family's struggles and triumphs.

Getting to the Good Part by Lolita Files
In Lolita Files' second novel, Getting to the Good Part, the continuing sagas of Misty Fine and Reesy Snowden are played out except unlike from the point of view from Misty Fine in Files debut novel, Scenes from a Sistah, Getting to the Good Part is told from the view of outspoken Reesy Snowden. Told from the setting of New York City, Reesy Snowden goes through tumultuous pitfalls and escapades to finally face what it is she really wants out of life, one of them being if Misty and her are to or should remain "sistah's forever. "

Growing Up Ethnic in America edited by Maria Mazziotti Gillian and Jennifer Gillian
America is going through a slow and sometimes stagnant process of self-discovery. It is discovering that it is not a monolithic culture marching along the path of a single narrative, but rather that it is comprised of a cultural plurality that has many different and often contradictory stories to tell.

Hot Johnny (And the Women Who Loved Him) by Sandra Jackson-Opoku
Though not the intricately woven web that was her highly acclaimed debut work, A River Where Blood is Born, Sandra Jackson-Opoku's sophomore effort Hot Johnny is an esoteric page-turner.

House on the Lagoon, The - By Rosario Ferre
Rosario Ferré's novel The House on the Lagoon centers on the life of Isabel Monfort, a Puerto Rican living in Ponce and a writer undertaking the task of recording the histories of her family and the family of her husband, Quintín Mendizabal.

In the Name of Salome by Julia Alvarez
Julia Alvarez's novel In the Name of Salome weaves the life and spirit of Salome Urena, and her reserved daughter, Salome Camila, through a journey of political unrest in the Dominican Republic.

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs.
Throughout Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Linda's grandmother remains a friend and caregiver, yet their relationship is severely warped by the institution of slavery.

Interpreter of Maladies
The stories in Jhumpa Lahiri's collection, Interpreter of Maladies, differ in approach and perspective while remaining tied to the same themes and ideas. Each of the stories involves people of Indian descent, albeit in a variety of roles and circumstances.

Katherine by Anchee Min
A world of nightmares vanishes as a world of hope emerges in Anchee Min's first novel, Katherine. This novel follows Anchee Min's international bestseller, Red Azalea, a memoir that was named by the New York Times as one of its Notable Books of 1994.

Love by Toni Morrison
Toni Morrison's novel, Love, published in 2003, is a story of just that: love's many faces and effects on those who love. This story talks of love as shadowed by greed, jealousy, insanity, and hatred.

Lucy by Jamaica Kincaid
In Jamaica Kincaid's novel Lucy, a young woman follows her lifelong dream of leaving her small room and childhood bed and moving to a place that she has always dreamed of.

Macadam Dreams by Gisele Pineau
Macadam Dreams, is an interesting novel because of the way Pineau parallels the violence of nature with the violence of humans.

Set in Savane, Guadeloupe, Gisele Pineau's novel, Macadam Dreams, is a story of Eliette's self-discovery as she is forced to come to terms with the violent memories of her past. Through the painful memories that Eliette attempts to push away, the book reveals the violent stories of the characters that make up Eiliette's town of Savane. Wrecked by a cyclone in 1928, Neither Eliette nor Savane have been able to escape the poverty and violence the cyclone has left them with. Now, sixty years later, with Hurricane Hugo approaching, Eliette is forced to deal with the painful past in order to free herself from those memories that were initiated by the first cyclone.

Memory Mambo by Achy Obejas
Memory Mambo by Achy Obejas is as much about memory as it is about truth. The main character is a 24 year-old lesbian named Juani who lives in Chicago with her - very extended - Cuban family. Coming to the United States when she was only six years old, Juani's memory of her home country is patchy and second-hand at best.

"Mishosha" portrays the adult characters as dangerous caregivers of the younger generation.

Mulberry and Peach by Hualing Nieh
Hualing Nieh's 1981 novel Mulberry and Peach describes the life of Helen Mulberry Sang, a Chinese woman living through many years of political unrest during the Japanese invasion of China, the Communist-Nationalist Civil War, Taiwan's White Terror, and the Vietnam War.

My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki
Ruth L. Ozekis debut novel, My Year of Meats, is a tale of diversity and every reader is bound to have a unique relationship with the book. Obviously, meat and beef take center stage, but more often in a supporting role rather than as the star of the show. The narrator reveals many beef industry secrets that cause the reader to wonder what is fact and what is fiction.

Pagoda, The - by Patricia Powell

Shell Shaker by LeAnne Howe
In this novel, Howe connects to her readers, challenging them to gain an awareness of the corruption and misuse of power prevalent with our leaders. By creatively taking on history as it relates to the present, she challenges her readers to unite to restore balance.

Skin Folk by Nalo Hopkinson
In a collection of short stories named Skin Folk, Nalo Hopkinson provides the reader with a variety of folklores and fairytale-like stories with supernatural and futuristic approaches. Though this book is an easy read, I caution those who cannot, or choose not to, handle dime store romance novels to pass through several of the stories due to their very graphic sexual details. I could categorize the fifteen stories into three main categories, though many may overlap: coming of age, sexual explicit, and the supernatural.

Sugar by Bernice McFadden
McFadden's debut novel Sugar portrays a realistic balance of good and evil in its characterization and its authentic thematic substance. Placed between 1940 and 1956 in the fictitious town of Bigelow, Arkansas, the small town residents are no different than your next-door neighbors.

Sweet Diamond Dust by Rosario Ferre
Rosario Ferré's Sweet Diamond Dust lyrically voices the generation-bridging tale of the De La Valle family and their Puerto Rican sugar mill through the eyes and souls of several family members, longtime servants and dear friends. This hypnotic story traces the many hardships and glories of a rapturous family and their beloved sugar mill; bringing readers face to face with issues of wealth and national pride through the characters that experienced it all.

The Day of the Moon by Graciela Limón
In her novel, The Day of the Moon, Graciela Limón writes in a sensitive and engaging style that traces the individual lives of a family with a sensitivity and kinship that demands the same from the reader.

The Drifting of Spirits
In a miserably small town of jealous and vengeful villagers, anything can happen. If one has no particular desire to be cursed for all eternity with a stutter, a clubfoot or an overly fertile phallus, one will realize the presence of the ancestral spirits and the power of their protection.

The Farming of Bones, The - by Edwidge Danicat
This patchwork quilt of a story is held together with the threads of love throughout a series of tragedies that create the fabric for this story. Starting with the death of both of Amabelle's parents the story takes you though the journey of Amabelle's life.

The Farming of Bones, The - by Edwidge Danticat (2nd Review)
Danticat's story is set around Amabella who works as a maid in the Dominican Republic. A Haitian native, Amabella has been on her own since she was orphaned at the age of eight. She is in love with a Haitian man named Sebastien.

The Fat Man From La Paz edited by Rosario Santos
The twenty short stories contained in The Fat Man from La Paz give an overview of Bolivian culture from romance to politics to revolution. Although the stories are unrelated and written by twenty different authors, they strictly follow the order of the stated themes.

The Fisher King by Paule Marshall
The name of the first chapter of Paule Marshall's latest novel, The Fisher King contains the phrase "Sodom and Gomorrah music" referring to jazz. Listeners today know that jazz is not riddled with sin as once thought, but members of older generations sometimes refuse to embrace this.

The Heart of Hyacinth (2nd review) by Onoto Watanna (Winnifred Eaton)
As a younger child she did not seem to fit into the Japanese culture, as can be noticed in the following excerpt: Unlike the average Japanese child, the little girl was restless and lacked all sense of repose, an inherent instinct with Japanese children.

The Heart of Hyacinth by Onoto Watanna (Winnifred Eaton)
Winnifred Eaton, writing under the nom de plume Onoto Watanna, is considered a pioneer by many recent scholars because she became the first author to write an Asian American novel, Miss Numé of Japan: A Japanese American Romance (1899). Eaton's ideas were progressive because she portrayed interracial relationships in her works, something that was groundbreaking for the time, but which won her immediate success.

The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich
In her remarkable novel The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse (2001) Louise Erdrich takes her readers through the spiritual realm and on a wondrous journey of soul-searching. The novel challenges and bends our ideas about subjects as deep as the meaning of gender and the reason for religion. Erdrich paints one picture, and then turns it upside down and makes the reader look at it another way.

The Master Butchers Singing Club by Louise Erdrich
Although her story is mostly fiction, Louise Erdrich includes in her novel The Master Butchers Singing Club several fascinating characters closely resembling non-fictional people close to her.

The Memories of Ana Calderóon by Graciela Limón
In the novel The Memories of Ana Calderón by Graciela Limón, the reader follows protagonist Ana through her journey toward self-realization as she struggles to negotiate between her past and the present.

The Moon Pearl by Ruthanne Lum McCunn
Ruthanne Lum McCunn's novel, The Moon Pearl, pays tribute to women overcoming opposition to their struggle for independence. McCunn spins a tale of three young women living in China's Pearl River Delta during the 1830s. The Moon Pearl originated from stories told in McCunn's Hong Kong childhood home by various wives, mothers, concubines, and spinsters.

The Roads of My Relations by Devon A. Mihesuah
The Roads of My Relations takes advantage of Mihesuah's academic and personal knowledge of one woman's family to illustrate a larger society. Even before the novel begins, there is a diagram of the family tree showing the relationships of the family members. While this tree is helpful, it is not really necessary for understanding this book. Actually, The Roads of my Relations seems to be two books.

The Warmest December by Bernice McFadden
In her intensely moving second novel, The Warmest December, Bernice McFadden depicts a young woman struggling to rid herself of the painful influence of her abusive father and the legacy of alcohol dependence that she is left with in his wake.

The Weight of All Things by Sandra Benítez
Sandra Benítez did not start to write fiction until she was 39 years of age, but it is her life previous to literary invention that allows Benítez to draw a reader into her Latina culture and its trials as a community.

Three Undiscovered Novels by Frances E.W. Harper
At the end of the Three Rediscovered Novels, in the text of Trial and Triumph, Frances E. W. Harper tells her readers, "I have essayed to weave a story which I hope will subserve a deeper purpose than the mere amusement of the hour, that it will quicken and invigorate human hearts and not fail to impart a lesson of usefulness and value. "

To Swim Across the World by Frances and Ginger Park
To Swim Across The World brings the reader along on their journey through pain, suffering, and great loss. The authors writing style sweeps the reader up with vivid descriptions and memorable metaphors.

Whispering in Shadows by Jeannette Armstrong
Using a variety of literary techniques, Jeannette Armstrong's novel Whispering in Shadows is a journey of discovery towards the intimate voices that guide the world and our souls.

Women of Sand and Myrrh by Hanan Al-Shaykh
Novelist and journalist Hanan al-Shaykh offers an intimate perspective into the lives of four women living in the Middle East in the novel Women of Sand and Myrrh (1989, translated 1990)

Youngest Doll, The - By Rosario Ferre
The short stories in this collection succeed as entertaining social commentary, exposing a garish group of characters in vivid and colorful form. Decadent imagery brings time and place to life, puts the reader immediately in the tropics, in the villages, in the houses and in the minds of the “dolls” of these fascinating stories.