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For June, the Read With Jenna book club dove into Megha Majumdar's debut novel, "A Burning." The book tackles themes of class, fate and corruption in contemporary India through the stories of three characters, whose lives intertwine after a terrorist attack.
If you're ready to dive into more similar stories after finishing "A Burning," Majumdar has five recommendations she considers must-reads. These selections range from debut novels to a collection of moving vignettes, and explore stories of race, immigration and privilege.
Bulawayo's debut novel tells the story of a young girl growing up in Zimbabwe named Darling. At just 10 years old, Darling has seen the harsh realities of the world. She has witnessed her home being destroyed by paramilitary policemen and her schools being closed down. She has also lost her father to a dangerous job abroad.
Hoping for a better future, Darling makes her way to America where her aunt lives but when she arrives, she learns that the opportunities for immigrants are few and far between. Written with strength and clarity, "We Need New Names" is a powerful novel about the immigrant experience in the U.S.
Another debut novel, "The Unpassing" also examines the myth of the American dream. The story is told through the eyes of a Taiwanese immigrant family of six struggling to make it in Anchorage, Alaska.
Two of the family's children, Gavin and Ruby, catch meningitis at school but Ruby does not survive. The grieving family's struggles are made worse when the father, who works as a plumber and repairman, is sued over a mistake during the installation of a septic tank.
As things grow increasingly difficult, secrets and truths emerge about what really happened to Ruby. Set in the unforgiving Alaskan wilderness, Lin's novel sheds light on the harsh realities of immigrant life.
Written as a compilation of moving vignettes, "Heads of the Colored People" by Nafissa Thompson-Spires shines a light on Black identity, the precariousness of Black citizenship and the contemporary middle class.
Through a mix of humor, devastation and grief, Thompson-Spires brilliantly engages in the conversation of race. Her work is bold and original as it observes and reveals the truth about living in a Black body in America.
In Stoberock's devastating and complex novel, four children living on an island are responsible for sorting all of the world's trash. Once sorted, they feed the garbage to the island's pigs and the cycle continues. However, when a boy washes ashore, the children must decide whether he is more like them or the garbage they sort.
"Pigs" asks questions about community and innocence while also tackles one of the most pressing issues facing our planet, the environment.
Based on the author's personal experience, "The Atlas of Reds and Blues" is the story of an American-born woman raised by Bengali immigrants. The woman has been shot in her home after an unfounded raid by police turns violent. As she lays on the ground bleeding, she remembers moments of her life such as her childhood visits to India, her early courtship with her husband and more.
Laskar's devastating yet beautiful novel captures the complexity of life as a second-generation American and a woman of color. Though heartbreaking, the book sheds an important light on racism and police brutality.
For more stories like this, check out:
- Interested in a book or album you saw on TODAY? Here's where to get it
- 15 questions to consider after reading "A Burning" by Megha Majumdar
- All of Jenna Bush Hager's Read With Jenna book club picks