Thursday, September 12, 2013

More About Diversity in Fiction

First of all you should read this article on YA Interrobang, The Underappreciation of International YA Literature. (Side note: YA Interrobang is shaping up to pretty cool and you should definitely sign up for their mailing list!)

If you are not American, you probably understand and sympathize with the author of this article as I did, in that popular books or popular YA books originating from your country just don't have the same "universal" spread or popularity that American fiction does.

There are a lot of you Americans, so it makes sense that there are a lot of YA books. The U.S. also has very large influence over a lot of countries, especially when it comes to media and pop culture. In the case of Canada, American influence affects everything because of the shared border. I have nothing against Americans or American authors, I have lots of favourite books by American authors.

But isn't it fair to say that I want my experience in my country represented in more than just the odd book? Isn't it fair to ask that I don't have to go looking in every nook and cranny, hoarding Canadian fiction like a crazed collector, just so I can find something I relate to?

American fiction is great but it isn't representative of my experiences. Canada, despite all its similarities to the U.S., is quite a bit different, and to sum up some of the differences, quite a bit tamer. (Just look at the evidence in Canadian history...)

I think this issue extends to the issue of diversity in fiction.

I believe that diversity in fiction means representing not only different races or people with disabilities, but people with completely different experiences in life. Diversity should be representing EVERYTHING, so that EVERYONE has a book they can completely relate to. I can relate to some parts of American fiction, but never entirely because of that cultural and national barrier.

Everyone's experiences matter, or at least they should, no matter how different or singular they are.

I know I'm referencing Canada, but I'm sure (and the article linked to above is evidence) that people in other countries, probably every country except the U.S., feel the same way.

As you can probably tell, I'm not completely sure on all of my thoughts on this. I'd love to hear what you have to say or if you disagree and why and such. I'd love to hear more discussion of diversity in books, it's probably one of my favourite topics because I believe it is extremely important. (tl;dr: Please comment!!)

What does diversity in fiction mean to you?

2 comments:

  1. Hello, American speaking here. :) I've noticed that most of the titles that get translated into English for an American audience and then become more popular here are literary fiction titles. And of course, English-language books by authors in English-speaking countries (Hello, Harry Potter!). There are some YA titles as well, of course, but like you said, they aren't nearly as prevalent in American bookstores as American books are abroad.

    Relating to diversity: I've noticed that whenever bloggers talk about diversity, they tend to talk about it in the context of diversity in America and diversity in American popular fiction, which makes perfect sense because they're American bloggers and writers. However, we here in the good ole US-of-A also tend to forget that other countries have completely different notions of race, religion, sexuality, and other cultural identifiers.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I agree with everything you said and I'm glad you understand. :) You're completely right about diversity meaning different things in different countries. The U.S. sways towards different ideals than Canada (for example), so obviously the issues surrounding race, religion, and diversity would be different.

      Again, I'll say that I think diversity is about having something for everyone, more than just books for different people in America.

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Hey there! I really treasure every comment... whether it just be a hello or a deeper thought. I love hearing your thoughts! :)

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