thinking aloud

on

819dd14ae7cec868cca42c2c29c92915 After reading yet another article about how little the publishing landscape still allots minorities, whether author, character, or subject, I am thinking about challenging the ease of my own skin in accessing the characters, settings, and cultures that center me. So for my readerly-self this next year, minus coursework, of course, I will not be reading any white author [unless their book prominently feature non-white or traditionally marginalized protagonists] for the entire year. It shouldn’t be too tricky*, when a handful of excellent authors come immediately to mind–unless I only focus it toward Juvenile and YA-Lit; which I cannot for my own sanity possibly do, but I do plan to be conscious of the relatively few published annually, and try not to read fewer than I already would in a year.

In part, the challenge will assess whether I could even access juvenile, young adult, teen, or adult reads by only purchasing or borrowing them from local sources, or receiving them as gifts.

What if I, too, limited myself to only North American authors?—just when I was intending to tackle one of Murakami’s longer pieces… Should I? I want to think about what these rightfully concerned authors are saying.  And they are critiquing North American markets.  Should I focus only on one minority? Or divvy up months—which may be unfair as I read unevenly. I am already going to except comic books, though I hope to not have to except many.*

Input on parameters?

There is going to be some work done exploring population statistics, looking at neighborhood libraries and bookstores, and talking to librarians and the like. because I am curious like that. but I am aware of the limitations on my time. Just how ambitious will this little personal challenge turn out to be… Things to consider here?

I hope that by increasing my own self-awareness, awareness will radiate outward. I’m thinking that you and I will find some really great reads together. And maybe have some interesting conversations. I am starting to get excited by this: thinking about the second month of the Sci-Fi Experience, Readers Imbibing Peril (RIP), and Picture Book Month (which I think I will plan earlier in 2014).

Please do recommend authors and/or books in comments. And link useful lists as well.

*I say this with the recognition of being privileged to having been introduced to greater diversity in my degree program, fellow book bloggers, and multi-cultured reader-friends. Something we should probably talk about in the course of the year.

{image: “Is this the face of the reader?” by Erin McGuire}

 

4 Comments Add yours

  1. I applaud your desires to expand your reading horizons. I know it is not a commitment I would be willing to make. There are too many authors I enjoy to want to give over a whole year to not reading them. I can say that if I were to take a challenge like this on, I wouldn’t limit myself to a specific race or gender. It sounds to me like you want a new experience and keeping yourself wide open to experience all sorts of different authors would be an amazing way to compare and contrast different races, cultures, etc. I think of authors like Murakami and Aliette de Bodard whose works always make me look at culture, including my own, differently. There are SF authors like Karen Lord doing amazing stuff. Australian fiction, particularly SFF, seems to be slowly gaining traction in the greater genre community. Imagine discovering a non-white Australian author (or Russian, or….) and seeing what their fiction has to say compared to what you are used to reading from American or British authors?

    At any rate I’ll be really curious to see what you read this year and what it teaches you, but as discouraging as this is going to sound (and is not meant to be, truly), I would count the cost of making a hard and firm decision about ONLY reading this way. It would be a disservice to the authors you are trying if you don’t have some latitude built in to scratch the occasional itch if you find yourself overwhelmingly aching to read a specific book. Then again, if you make the commitment then I encourage you go jump in with both feet and enjoy the ride.

    1. L says:

      I appreciate your thoughts… and you do bring up an interesting way to go about thinking about approaching a personal challenge like this: comparing author/books more immediately, because I am also interested in the potential of other approaches or perspectives to be offered and not just (though important enough) seeing something other than a white-washed landscape. Reading multiple authors in a genre/region in more immediate contexts could be a fun/fascinating project…

      1. Thought of you when I saw this link of SF Signal today.

        http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/12/29/the-year-in-chinese-science-and-science-fiction.html

        These ideas of reading projects or challenges can spin off in so many interesting ways. I was thinking about the novel We by Yvgeny Zamayatin today while posting to you and it just popped into my mind that it would be interesting, from an American perspective, to read some classic Russian SF (or any other culture/nationality) and compare it to contemporary SF and see what can be gathered from the comparison of themes, etc.

  2. Grace says:

    The local sources part would be a real challenge for me. Most of what I read I don’t access locally, because my reading taste often takes me to backlists or less common titles. Interlibrary loan is your friend, and if you go to WorldCat.org, you can determine where the nearest library is that carries a specific title.

    You should look into Lee & Low. They’re a publisher that focuses exclusively on multicultural books for children and teens, and they even have a SF/F teen imprint.

thoughts? would love to hear them...

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