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Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ [userpic]

Reading Rainbow

July 23rd, 2009 (07:21 pm)
sad

current location: my bed
current mood: sad
current music: the news

Okay, no one who reads this journal will be surprised to know that the whitewashed cover of Justine Larbalestier's book Liar about a black character infuriates and saddens me. (Justine spoke out here, and I adore her for it.) I've been meaning to do this, anyway, so this post will include a bunch of links to young adult novels about people of color. It's not enough that we talk about these things; we actually have to support the authors who write these books if we want to see any kind of change.

I know and you know that people don't just want books about white people. They won't avoid a book with a brown person on the cover unless they're actively made to feel like that book is not for them, such as when said book is segregated in the bookstore (think "African American" or "Urban Fiction" sections). I can say I already wanted to read Liar, but had it had a black Micah on the front, I would have been even more excited. I'm tired of reading the same old stories. I'm tired of seeing people of color relegated to "race issue" stories--and that's when they're not the sidekicks to a white main character or somehow horribly stereotyped.

Not to mention it's like saying the rest of us just don't matter. We don't need to see characters like us in stories. No one is interested in characters like us or the stories we have to tell. I refuse to believe that's so.

Yet Barnes and Noble seems to think it is. Its buyers, who have a huge influence on what books we ever come to know about--by choosing which titles to stock in their stores and which to skip--choose not to sell most of the titles linked below in their stores. So how are potential readers supposed to know they exist? And how are publishers supposed to see any reason to change their belief that no one wants minority literature?

I'm not promising all of these books are great; like any group of novels, some will be up your alley, and some won't. Some will be amazingly written, and some won't. But from the bottom of my heart, I ask all of you to glance through these links and read some of the titles, whichever appeal to you. Make use of your library. Order through independent bookstores or Amazon. Just please, please, please make your preference clear.

And I've even got a contest for you to enter to win some of these books! Please go enter and show your support.

I'll continue hosting interviews and guest posts as long as you are interested in reading, but I need your help beyond that. Thanks for thinking about this and choosing to act. It means so much. And if you've ever been moved to link to a post of mine, make it this one. The more people who know these books exist, the better. (Also, clearly this is just a sampling of what's out there. If you have titles to add, please do!)


Lists to check out

Miss Attitude on great PoC young adult fiction

Young Adult Fantasy With Characters of Color

Books With Biracial and Multiracial Protagonists

More Books With Biracial and Multiracial Protagonists

Contemporary Asian American Fiction

More Contemporary Asian American Fiction

Even More Contemporary Asian American Fiction

Contemporary Hispanic American Fiction

More Contemporary Hispanic American Fiction

Contemporary Native American Fiction

More Contemporary Native American Fiction

Contemporary African American Fiction

Muslim and Middle Eastern Protagonists

And a site by black writers for white readers

Comments

Posted by: Hardluck Hollow (rumdiculous)
Posted at: July 23rd, 2009 11:30 pm (UTC)
beware dog

Oh, want to hear something that is sure to piss ya off? When I worked at Books-A-Million, there were certain "guidelines" the store and it's employees had to follow to run it. The woman who hired me gave me a tour. She was a real gem and I liked her right away. Very smart and sharp person that wasn't caustic in thinking. She led me around the store and gave me a frank account on what pissed -her- off about the store.

One was the religion section. The only books allowed in there were Christian literature. The bible, etc. That's it. Nothing else was in there. But if you moved onto the other side of the store, in the philosophy area, then you found the Hindu, Buddhism, and the occult. These are considered ways of thinking, not ya know, practiced beliefs. -___-

Then there is the section that my boss stopped at and said, "And this one pisses me off the most." You see, the "ethnic" books had to have their own section. That's right. This company segregated their African American literature from the rest. And the sad part is, it's a mixed bit where they don't even get their own sections, barely a aisle long! Great works or literature are clumped in with silly smut. It's a mess and the average "white" person won't stop there long enough unless they're looking for a certain book. So they miss some good ones! Ugh.

Posted by: Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ (shveta_thakrar)
Posted at: July 24th, 2009 03:12 am (UTC)

I have so much to say about this, but I'm too tired right now. Maybe when I see you later.

Posted by: AngelinaContessaLouisa FrancescaBananaFanaBoBesca3 (golden_meliades)
Posted at: July 24th, 2009 11:35 am (UTC)

I don't think our bookstores are arranged that way here. I checked online (Chapters = Canadian equivalent of Amazon) and there is no 'African American' section and I checked some of the book titles in your links and they seem to be listed in whatever section they belong (YA, Fanasy, Fiction, etc.)

The Religion and Spirituality section is itself divided into sections (which just makes sense...it'd be hard to find anything otherwise) but it includes everything.

I guess it's really no wonder I grew up unaware that racism was a current issue rather than something far in the past. I never saw any sign of it at all until I was an adult (and even then I never saw it first hand)...not even in the bookstore.

Posted by: Sherwood Smith (sartorias)
Posted at: July 23rd, 2009 11:35 pm (UTC)

Thank you for those lists!

Posted by: Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ (shveta_thakrar)
Posted at: July 24th, 2009 03:11 am (UTC)

You're welcome. Let's hope they actually do something.

Posted by: Tithenai (tithenai)
Posted at: July 24th, 2009 02:44 am (UTC)

Hmm, the link for Muslim and Middle Eastern Protagonists just redirects to this post...

Posted by: Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ (shveta_thakrar)
Posted at: July 24th, 2009 03:09 am (UTC)

Fixed. Thank you.

Posted by: Tessa Gratton (tessagratton)
Posted at: July 24th, 2009 01:26 pm (UTC)
Haku protective

THANK YOU for collecting these lists.

I have so many adult literary novels by POC and about POC, but my YA shelves at home are embarrassingly whitewashed. The YA I do have featuring POC characters are about 90% written by non-POC. As outrageous as the LIAR scandal is, I am very glad it happened.

Posted by: Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ (shveta_thakrar)
Posted at: July 28th, 2009 02:44 am (UTC)
Deepavali

You're so welcome, Tess. :) I can't wait for the day that we don't need lists like these.

but my YA shelves at home are embarrassingly whitewashed. The YA I do have featuring POC characters are about 90% written by non-POC. As outrageous as the LIAR scandal is, I am very glad it happened.

Same here, sadly. But I have been looking with an eye toward changing that. I can't wait for the days of multicultural YA fantasy all over the shelves. Can you imagine all the yumminess? Maybe my book can help with that. . .

Oh, have you ever read Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier? The endign was a little too perfect for my tastes, but otherwise, it's a fun book about a, well, American-born confused desi! I definitely recommend it.

Posted by: Tessa Gratton (tessagratton)
Posted at: July 28th, 2009 11:11 am (UTC)

Thanks for the rec. I'm off to the library today, so I'll look for it!

Posted by: Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ (shveta_thakrar)
Posted at: July 29th, 2009 11:10 pm (UTC)

If you have a chance, glance at the last comment on this post, because I think Susan meant to reply to you.

Posted by: Karen Mahoney (ex_kaz_maho)
Posted at: July 24th, 2009 02:43 pm (UTC)

Great post and thanks for the links. I always read Justine's blog & was also looking forward to LIAR. I still am, but will not be buying the Bloomsbury cover. I might see if I can get an friend over in Oz to send me one of theirs when it's out. :)

And fwiw, my book that's currently on submission has a very important character in it who just so happens to be brown. Navin Sharma is my protag's best friend and is a major part of her life. I may possibly have based Navin on someone I know... *g* I wish an editor would pick buy it, just so people can read my fun scenes with Navin & his younger sister in the Sharma household. Heh.

Posted by: Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ (shveta_thakrar)
Posted at: July 28th, 2009 02:41 am (UTC)
Lavender faerie

You're very welcome! I hope people actually make an effort to seek these out; it's the only way things will change. Oh, and write Bloomsbury to express their dissatisfaction, as I still need to do. . .

I wish an editor would pick buy it, just so people can read my fun scenes with Navin & his younger sister in the Sharma household. Heh.

And yay! That's just one more reason a smart editor needs to snap up your work right this minute. Navin Sharma needs to be available for my reading consumption, you hear, publishing industry? Get on it!

Posted by: JJ (thegreatmissjj)
Posted at: July 24th, 2009 05:57 pm (UTC)

Interesting post. Thanks for the recommendations!

Posted by: Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ (shveta_thakrar)
Posted at: July 28th, 2009 02:37 am (UTC)
Party in India

You're welcome! I look forward to your reviews. :)

And when Ms. katranna gets back to the States, we still need to plan a writing date!

Posted by: leeroyglinchy (leeroyglinchy)
Posted at: July 28th, 2009 02:10 am (UTC)
Great post

I'm glad you made this post bringing attention to this topic. I recall the wonderful class you taught at Spec-Fic about writing about non-white characters. I found it to be very enlightening. Also, it built my confidence for expanding my palette of people I can write about.

I feel that the more that is said and discussed about this topic, the closer we will be to having any race be seen as bankable by publishers.

Posted by: Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ (shveta_thakrar)
Posted at: July 28th, 2009 02:38 am (UTC)
Re: Great post
Durga Ma winking

Is this Fred? Hi, Fred! *waves and adds your LJ to her friends list*

Thank you for the kind words! Yes, the more we talk--and act--the more they'll have to realize the time for denial is past. "Minority fiction doesn't sell" just doesn't wash anymore.

Posted by: leeroyglinchy (leeroyglinchy)
Posted at: July 28th, 2009 02:58 am (UTC)
Re: Great post

I'm really out in left field now, but I'm trying to be more ethical in my work situations. I don't work now so it's pretty easy.

Anyway, I don't feel that money is a good reason to sell one's good word or to act immorally. Clearly the cover was deceptive because the character wasn't white. I liked the cover w/ only words as the author stated that the character wasn't supposed to be a fixed image anyway so the reader should create her in their mind.

The power of imagination is one of the great things we have from reading.

I'm online a lot less and not reading so much anymore either just working on the novel for most of the day. I'm also volunteering both at a community garden and I'm going to be leading meditations soon.

Posted by: coloronline.blogspot.com (coloronline.blogspot.com)
Posted at: July 29th, 2009 02:30 pm (UTC)

Hi Shveta, I found your blog at Justine's. I've enjoyed your exchanges with Ari, who is an amazing young woman. Anyway, came to say thank for the great posts and now finding these lists I am beyond happy.

Would you consider guest blogging for Color Online? We'd love to have you. I'm linking your site on our blogroll. Plan to visit here often.

Thank you,
Susan

Posted by: Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ (shveta_thakrar)
Posted at: July 29th, 2009 11:07 pm (UTC)
Party in India

I'm so flattered! I would love to guest blog! Diversity and acceptance and just seeing all people as people means so much to me. Thank you so much for asking me and adding my journal to your list. I will definitely be reading. :)

I should find the person who made the lists on Amazon and thank her. They're so great as a starting point.

Thank you so much, Susan! I'm just grinning away here.

Posted by: coloronline.blogspot.com (coloronline.blogspot.com)
Posted at: July 29th, 2009 02:37 pm (UTC)

Love this thread. I write in the YA blogosphere and I've felt so isolated and ignored. I do have a circle of friends, but I, too, in a strange way, am grateful for the controversy. I have discovered so many other like-minded people.

We have lots of POC books for YA and women. We are a small community. I'm one woman but we are growing. Please join us there. We'd love to talk books. Again, I can't express how happy I am to find the lists here.

I read Born Confused and enjoyed. Yes, I understand the neat ending, but there is so much else that I loved that I didn't mind the ending.

Posted by: thehappynappybookseller.blogspot.com (thehappynappybookseller.blogspot.com)
Posted at: August 2nd, 2009 12:33 am (UTC)

I recently read and enjoyed a new novel called Wanting Mor by Rukhsana Khan. I wish I could find a YA novel with a Muslim male protagonist. If you know of any please stop by my blog and share. Also feel free to stop by if you're looking for reviews of books featuring people of color.

Bookstores are not carry a lot of MG/YA featuring people of color - Publishers aren't giving authors of color enough PR - which adds up to customers not knowing about these books in the first place.
How do we end this ugly cycle?

Unfortunately, blogs are not the answer, too many of the YA It bloggers do not review people of color. I am pretty sure publishers are checking in on bloggers with over 100 sometimes 300 followers and it says something when books by or about people of color are pretty much ignored.


Posted by: Shveta, bursting with stars ॐ (shveta_thakrar)
Posted at: August 7th, 2009 01:21 am (UTC)
Summer Faerie

I will definitely check out your blog! Thank you for stopping by here. :)

I'm not sure blogs aren't an answer. They're certainly not the only one, but the more we can get everyone to pay attention, the more things will start to change. It'll be slow, unfortunately, but look; even Bloomsbury finally caved. Yes, Justine is white, and yes, Bloomsbury didn't want to lose sales/come off as racist, but it's a start.

In the meantime, we keep writing and trying to put our word out there.

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