The topic of the assimilation and/or alienation of non-white minorities in white majority societies has been given much coverage. But less explored is the experience of a non-white (or at least non-European) minority in an environment where the majority consists of other non-whites.
Here we take a look at a few books, both fiction and non-fiction, that tell the stories of non-whites as sojourners and/or minorities in other non-white cultures:
In this autobiographical account, Asian American medical student Chi Cheng Huang went to Bolivia in 1997 to work with children in orphanages. His ministry eventually extended to night time care for street children in the city of La Paz, thrusting Huang into a world of crime, drug addiction and violence that he did not imagine when he signed up for this one year "service trip".
This is not just the story of an American outsider in Bolivia; it is also the story of the individual children - Gabriel, Mercedes, Vicki, Daniela, and Rosa - who fight to survive on the dangerous streets.
Ejovi Nuwere, a computer prodigy, was born in 1980 in Brooklyn, New York. He became a hacker at the age of fourteen and a part-time security specialist with several Internet service providers starting at the age 15.
By the time he was 22 years old, he had served as a computer security consultant in Japan, where he is a cult figure and legend among hackers - having been featured in several Japanese computer magazines.
This partially-autobiographical collection of eight short stories by Irvin Tang explores the negotiation of social identity by a native-born Texan Chinese American who grew up in close proximity to Latino culture.
For more on Irvin Tang, see Skip the Fortune Cookies, Please - Interview with SACurrent, Interview with UCLA Asia Institute and Austin CC bio.
In this semi-autobiographical novel by Mark Obama Ndesandjo, a man of Kenyan birth moves through 3 continents from boyhood to manhood - a childhood in Kenya, a young adulthood in the U.S., and a midlife transition to new adventures in China. Like Mark Ndesandjo, protagonist David is of Kenyan and American Jewish descent. The Ivy League-educated professional lost his job after 9/11, after which he relocated to China for some soul searching.
Read more about Ndesandjo at Mark Obama Ndesandjo's 'Help the Kids'.
Steven Barne's alternate history novels Lion's Blood and Zulu Heart describe a North America that had been colonized by Muslims from black Africa. Carthage, Egypt, Abyssynia and the Zulu Empire are foreign superpowers vying for power in the New World.
Kai is an African Muslim senator in the 1860 New World colony of New Djibouti. Already married to an Abyssinian noblewoman, he enters a second political union with a Zulu princess. Can Kai and his two foreign wives negotiate treacherous New Djibouti internal politics while protecting New Djibouti against the imperialist ambitions of Egypt and Abyssinia?
Corina, an African American archeologist researching the Royal Tombs of Tanis, has the honor of being one of the few Egyptologists offered the rare opportunity to dig at Royal Tombs. During an excavation, she meets fellow archaelogist Ashalon El Asab, an Egyptian of mixed Egyptian and Nubian hertiage.
Corina experiences the culture, history and sounds of modern day Egypt as she works with Ashalon to complete her research. Ashalon shows Corina not only the beauty of Egypt and Egyptians but also reawakens her own passions and dormant love across the Nile.
This novel by Sionil F. Jose, follows the travels and travails of the Filipino people through the eyes of a Filipino American scholar studying the global migrations of Filipinos. The protagonist, Badong, was adopted by an African American army captain. Captain Wack takes Badong to America, where the Captain becomes a Professor, and Badong becomes Buddy. Buddy follows in his father's footsteps by becoming an academic. He eventually traveled to Japan and then back to the Philippines.
A book covers the long history of migrations and exchanges between Africa and India. It delves into the history of East Africans of South Asian descent living in Africa and the history of Indians of African descent living in Asia.
During the era of the Tang and the Abbasids, Chinese and Arab civilizations were the world superpowers of their time. The two large empires had extensive trading links as well as cultural, scientific and military exchanges. This once-thriving relationship between East Asia and West Asia had declined over a millenium but now modern Arab countries are following the footsteps of their medieval predecessors who once went in large numbers to China to trade.
China's trade links with Africa go back to at least the 14th century, but as China expands its influence in Africa through commerce, aid, development and political intervention in the 20th century onward, African scholars express a variety of views on the pros and cons of Chinese involvement. Symbiosis or exploitation? Hear it not from the mouth of Western commentators but from Africans themselves.
A history of the Indian presence in Malaysia, from the accounts of early pioneer Indian immigrants who came to work in Malaya, to the story of contemporary Malaysian Indians who negotiate their own identity in a modern multiracial Southeast Asian nation.
The listing above is a limited selection and is not intended to represent the diversity of interactions between non-whites. Feel free to send us more book recommendations.
Disclaimer: This site does not endorse any of the books and authors listed above, nor do we make warranties as to the quality and accuracy of any of the aforementioned works of literature.