A book that I think should be on the required reading list for college and/or high school
Something non-Western. My high school reading experience was woefully limited when it came to non-Western literature. In school, I had American lit, English lit, and aside from a Greek tragedy or two, some Homer, and Crime and Punishment, that was it. In French class, we read Le Petit Prince and other French stories. So even the books added for diversity were Western. My sister read Things Fall Apart in her class, but we didn’t. It wasn’t until college that I had anything approaching world literature and that was because I chose to take a few Arab lit classes.
So to add diversity to the American high school/college experience, and without a broad background in non-Western lit myself, I can only make a few suggestions:
Alf Laylah Wa Laylah. I’m a snob and have to refer to The Arabian Nights like that. Even without Disney, elements of these stories have made their way into Western literature enough that it would be beneficial to students to read some of the originals. (Whatever “originals” may mean here.)
Gilgamesh. We talked about this so damn much in college, but I was never actually required to read it.
The Conference of the Birds. This is a story about 30 birds who go on a pilgrimage to find their king. Along the way, they tell stories about human faults. It’s been described as the Islamic Canterbury Tales.
Something by Rumi. I read once recently that he was America’s best selling poet. I have three books of his poetry and didn’t realize I was so trendy. Let’s read him in school then.
Something by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorges Luis Borges, Salman Rushdie, or Amy Tan (yes, I know Tan is American and Rushdie is British [sort of]. But the lack of diversity in American schools is so shocking that reading them would be a significant step up) (Oh wow, while writing this, I thought of my thing that was so emotionally draining that I had to set it aside. It was the short story The Joy Luck Club. When I got to the part about her mom leaving behind her kids, I just couldn’t go on. My sister told me that it ends better, so maybe I’ll go back to it.)