Holiday Gift Guide: Spotlight on BIPOC Voices

Red Hen Press
7 min readDec 5, 2023

Is there any more wonderful time of the year to enjoy the beauty and diversity in the cultural traditions that surround us than during the myriad winter holidays? And what better way to celebrate that diversity than by immersing yourself in a new book by one of our amazing BIPOC authors. (But who are we kidding, we know you won’t be able to choose just one!)

Whether you’re shopping for someone else, or you want to treat yourself, there’s something on this list for everyone.

Under a Future Sky is a gathering of generations, a performance with ghosts anchored in Brynn Saito’s journey with her father to the desert prison where, over eighty years ago, her grandparents met and made a life.

Born of a personal ache, an unquenchable desire to animate the shadow archive, Saito’s journey unfolds in lyric correspondences and epistolary poems that sing with rage, confusion, and, ultimately, love. In these works, descendants of wartime incarceration exchange dreams, mothers become water goddesses, and a modern daughter haunts future ruins. To enter this book is to enter the slipstream of nonlinear time, where mystical inclinations, yellow cedars, and sisterhood make a balm for trauma’s scars. Altogether, the work enacts a dialogue between the past and the present; the radical ancestor and the future child; and the desert prison and the family garden, where Saito’s father diligently gathers stones.

For more information visit Red Hen, and click here to purchase.

Black Was Not a Label is a collection of essays that explores the intersection of faith and racial trauma and the attempt to come to terms with instances of otherness, isolation, racism, erasure, anger, and lost love. A look at life within the “veil” W.E.B. Du Bois spoke of in his work, The Souls of Black Folk, this collection is both catharsis and lamentation to God for the self and all who have felt trapped within this (sometimes impenetrable) veil. For more information visit Red Hen, and to purchase click here.

For more information visit Red Hen, and to purchase click here.

The speaker of Testify returns to divulge his parents’ love story. Set in Anderson, Indiana in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, Trouble Funk exposes ways Black Love is thwarted but never destroyed by racism, classism, and sexism. Eschewing the “lyrical I” in favor of a third person omniscient point of view, this text exhibits how the latter half of the twentieth century rhymes with our current moment when it comes to political division, the hardships that Black folks face, and the rise of toxic right-wing policies. In many ways, Trouble Funk serves as a prequel to Testify in which Douglas Manuel seeks to better understand and love himself, his family, and his country.

For more information visit Red Hen, and to purchase click here.

A Professional Lola is a collection of short stories that blend literary fiction with the surreal to present the contemporary Filipino American experience and its universal themes of love, family, and identity. A family hires an actress to play their beloved grandmother at a party; a couple craving Filipino food rob a panaderya; a coven of Filipino witches cast a spell on their husbands; a Lolo transforms into a Lola. These are just a few of the stories in the collection that represent its roster of stories beautifully grounded in culture and vividly and meticulously painted to make the absurd seem mundane and the commonplace, sinister. A Professional Lola embodies the joy, mystery, humor, sadness, hunger, and family that inhabit modern-day Filipino American virtues.

For more information visit Red Hen, and to purchase click here.

I discover a “lost” aunt, separated from our family due to racism and discrimination against the disabled. She had a mental disability due to childhood meningitis. She was taken away in 1942 when all Japanese Americans were considered the enemy and imprisoned. She then became a “ward” of the state. We believed she had died, but 70 years later found her alive and living a few miles from our family farm. How did she survive? Why was she kept hidden? How did both shame and resilience empower my family to forge forward in a land that did not want them? I am haunted and driven to explore my identity and the meaning of family — especially as farmers tied to the land. I uncover family secrets that bind us to a sense of history buried in the earth that we work and a sense of place that defines us.

For more information visit Red Hen, and to purchase click here.

In A Fire in the Hills, Afaa focuses on one of the central threads in his body of work. His ongoing project of an articulation of self in relation to the external landscape of the community and the world and the writing of spirit through those revelations of sublimation of self gives way here to a material focus. The racial references are explicit as are the complexities of life lived as a Black man born in America in the mid-twentieth century. These are poems emanating from an attempt to follow Daoist philosophy for most of his life. Knowledge of other is in relation to knowledge of self, and self is an illusory continuum, a perspective wherein the poet embodies the transcendent arc of Malcolm X’s life as credo.

For more info visit Red Hen, and to purchase click here.

New Moons is a dynamic collection of contemporary fiction, poetry, and nonfiction by North American Muslims. The goal with this anthology is to represent the full range of contemporary expressions of Islam, as well as a full range of genres — poetry, fiction, essay, memoir, political writing, cultural writing, and of course plenty of texts which mix and match and blur all of these modes . . . the trajectories between the pieces — like that of kismet — will be multiple, nonlinear, abstract. The Muslim community is plural and contradictory. This collection of voices ought to be symphony and cacophony at once, like the body of Muslims as they are today.

For more information, visit Red Hen. And to purchase, click here.

Titled for the influential Indian pop singer who was left almost voiceless by a terrible syndrome, the poems in this book bring sweet melodies and rhythms as the voices blend and become multitudinous. There’s an honoring of not only survival, but of persistence, as this part research-based, pensive collection contemplates what it takes to move forward when the unimaginable holds you back.

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Octavia’s Bookshelf is a black-owned bookstore in Pasadena, California. The founder of the store, Nikki, describes how she loved to read as a young child, but how her world truly opened up once she discovered books written by people who looked like her. Now she is trying to share that same experience with her community at large, with a bookstore that specializes in books written by BIPOC authors.

Click here to purchase a gift card.

Yu and Me books is a female-owned Asian-American bookstore in NYC located in historical Manhattan Chinatown. Their focus is on the strong, diverse voices of the Asian-American community, with a highlight on immigrant stories.

If you’re not in the area, you can view some of their carefully curated collection and make a purchase here.

Strong Nations is an Indigenous owned and operated publishing house and online bookstore located in Nanaimo on the traditional and unceded territory of the Snuneymuxw First Nation. Since 2010 they have created and facilitated the acquisition of authentic Indigenous resources with the aim of developing a deeper understanding of Indigenous Peoples, cultures, and rights among all people.

Click here to shop at their online store.



Red Hen Press

Nonprofit independent literary publisher aiming to amplify unheard and underrepresented voices and improve literacy in schools.