Friday, May 08, 2009

Diversity in your Reading

This is a very interesting meme that I stole of Nymeth.

1. Name the last book by a female author that you’ve read.
I Heart You, You Haunt Me Lisa Schroeder, which I finished at about 1 this morning.

2. Name the last book by an African or African-American author that you’ve read.
The Coldest Winter Ever Sister Souljah, which I read earlier this week.

3. Name one from a Latino/a author.
MAYBE Dead Is a State of Mind Marlene Perez, which I read last month

I don't know if she is Latina or not, but her last name is usually a Latino one.

The last book I read with obviously Latino characters and themes is The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez by Alan Lawrence Sitomer, which I read in March.

4. How about one from an Asian country or Asian-American?
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon Grace Lin, which I read earlier this month

5. What about a GLBT writer?
Can't think of one that I've read lately. The last one I've read with obviously GLBT characters is I Want Candy Kim Keltner Wong.

6. Why not name an Israeli/Arab/Turk/Persian writer, if you’re feeling lucky?
Hmmm... the last one I can think of would be Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood Ibtisam Barakat, which I read in January of 2008.

7. Any other “marginalized” authors you’ve read lately?
The Porcupine Year Louise Erdrich, a Native American author, which I read earlier this year

Love Marriage: A Novel V. V. Ganeshanathan, who is American-Sri Lankan, which I read in December.

I think it's important to read a wide range of voices but I struggled with this meme because sometimes you just don't know. Marlene Perez has a Hispanic last name. Is she Latina? Maybe, maybe not. Nothing in her bio says anything about her ethnicity, and it doesn't have to. Gender can be a little easier to tell. GLBT? I know a few authors who are out and a few who mention being married to members of the opposite gender, but...

I mean, the last book I read I know was written by a woman due to her name and plus, I read her blog, so I could tell some other things.

The other book I read yesterday is by Michael Swanwick. All his jacket flap bio tells me is he lives in Pennsylvania and has won 5 Nebula awards. He could fit into any of the above categories except the "female author" one (although a quick google search reveals he most likely doesn't)

So, unless there's something in the author bio or book description that tells me the ethnicity of the author (or in some cases, the author photo), I have to guess.

But, just because an author has characters that are certain ethnicity or are GLBT doesn't mean the author is. And, on the same side, just because an author is a certain ethnicity or GLBT doesn't mean their characters have to be.

And, Mitali Perkins has been writing a lot about race in literature. When I mention books about Latinos or GLBT characters, you'll notice I said "obviously" because there are a lot of characters I've read lately that are ethnically ambigous and even a few that could be GLBT.

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