When was the last time you read a book/watched a show not written by a white person? Not meant to be inflammatory.


  • Aug 20, 2015 3:11 AM GMT


    Hey guys!

    I'm posting this out of general curiosity. Little while ago, the NYT along with some others came out with a "Must read summer reading list," and the literary community, as a whole, was not happy.

    Why? Because the lists, each around 25 titles long, featured two women and no people of color.

    Additionally, the most recent winner of the nobel prize, Patrick Madrino, wrote about (*yawn*) france during WW2. Nothing against France or the European theatre, but I know that I am tired about hearing about the same narrative. What about the Tuskegee airmen? What about the Pacific Theatre? What about the Japanese Internment camps? What about China and the rape of Nanking? What about North Africa?

    Recently, I decided to spend a period reading authors who were neither white nor male, although I have made a couple of exceptions (I just finished reading Marina Keegan's "The Opposite of Loneliness" and have Kate Bornstein's "Queer and Pleasant Danger" on my next at bat, after "The Kitchen God's Wife" by Amy Tan). But I want to know--do people here read nonwhite fiction? I am trying to trudge through Jonathan Safran Foer's "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," and while it has its merits, I find that I am constantly dealing with the trope of a white protagonist who sounds predictably like my idea of his author, and at some point involves a manic pixie dream girl--but I digress.

    Do you guys like to read people from cultures that are different than yours? If so, do you have any recommendations? What did it do for you, if anything?
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    Aug 20, 2015 3:22 AM GMT
    When I read a book and see the author's name, all I see is their name. I have no clue what they look like. So that means I don't care what race the author is because my interest solely lies within the plot of the book.

  • Aug 20, 2015 3:50 AM GMT
    Erik101 saidWhen I read a book and see the author's name, all I see is their name. I have no clue what they look like. So that means I don't care what race the author is because my interest solely lies within the plot of the book.


    Oh, but you see, race does play a difference in exactly what kind of plot you are reading. In fact, it matters whether or not you are more likely to read the work.

    For instance, "Joe Zamora" is not treated the same way as "Jose Zamora":

    https://youtu.be/PR7SG2C7IVU (this video expounds a bit more to what I'm talking about).

    Additionally, the stories written by people of overlooked and alternative communities simply carry a weight, a timbre, than cannot be match by outside observers. Toni Morrison is the only one who could have written Beloved and the Bluest Eye. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the only one who could have written Americanah. Only Amy Tan could have written The Kitchen God's Wife.

    I do not fault your approach for how you approach literature. Not in the least. But I must confess that an increased intention in the choosing of literature--which voices you seek out--is integral for developing an increased empathy for a variety of people and voices, and dissuades us from falling into a disappointing, New Yorker-esque way of looking at book, where the most interesting point of the work is when and if the characters have sex.

    I have a representation which may explain what I'm trying to get at a little better:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CL6tRalWEAAbbot.jpg:large

    as you can see in this link, literature is only among the tip of the cultural iceberg. However, I recognize literature's unique ability to let the people of different cultures speak for themselves, and we can see how they experience incredibly fundamental things like time and history (Arundhati Roy and Sherman Alexie are famous for this type of writing).

    I do hope that some of my words perhaps illuminate what I am getting at about literature as a whole, and what the current literary zeitgeist is in danger of completely missing out on.
  • HottJoe

    Posts: 21366

    Aug 20, 2015 3:55 AM GMT
    I could use some new book recommendations, and I do really enjoy books set in different cultures. I've read four different Amy Tan books and my favorite of hers is The 100 Secret Senses. It's the funniest and most mystical of her books.

    However, the book that had the biggest impact on me, and my view of my country, was 12 Years a Slave. At the time I read it, I felt it was the most important book I'd ever read.
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    Aug 20, 2015 3:57 AM GMT
    I can honestly say I have never once looked up an author to see what race he or she was. icon_rolleyes.gif

  • Aug 20, 2015 3:59 AM GMT
    HottJoe saidI could use some new book recommendations, and I do really enjoy books set in different cultures. I've read four different Amy Tan books and my favorite of hers is The 100 Secret Senses. It's the funniest and most mystical of her books.

    However, the book that had the biggest impact on me, and my view of my country, was 12 Years a Slave. At the time I read it, I felt it was the most important book I'd ever read.


    Yeah?? I just started reading Amy Tan!

    Like I said, I'm looking to just start Kate Bornstein after The Kitchen God's Wife. But I've also got a Helen Oyemi book waiting for me (Parable of the Sower)

    but if you want something that is the very definition of irreverent--Samuel R Delaney's "Dhalgren." It will take you out of your comfort zone--and keep going. I've still not been able to finish it.

  • Aug 20, 2015 4:04 AM GMT
    Radd saidI can honestly say I have never once looked up an author to see what race he or she was. icon_rolleyes.gif


    I'm not sure I mean for you to police yourself while perusing your next book read, but to ask questions like, "what are some prominent voices of X community?"

    At the same time, I would say that we should never discount the role of race in the stories we tell. Whether or not we are ready to notice it, it contextualizes the train of the majority of our interactions, and nowhere else is this more readily apparent than in the pages of literature. As my professors used to say: "if only we could get white people to talk about their whiteness! Then we would make some real progress."

    After all, all literature is inherently political.
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    Aug 20, 2015 4:18 AM GMT
    HottJoe saidI could use some new book recommendations, and I do really enjoy books set in different cultures. I've read four different Amy Tan books and my favorite of hers is The 100 Secret Senses. It's the funniest and most mystical of her books.

    However, the book that had the biggest impact on me, and my view of my country, was 12 Years a Slave. At the time I read it, I felt it was the most important book I'd ever read.


    One of the best books or plays I've ever read was Inherit The Wind. I read it in high school and gotta say, it was the first book that I finished reading in 2 sittings. But what I liked about it was that it defended intellectual freedom and our right to think.
  • HottJoe

    Posts: 21366

    Aug 20, 2015 4:22 AM GMT
    James Baldwin is a black Harlem Renaissance writer who wrote Giovanni's Room, which is about a gay white expat living in Europe, and interestingly it's one of the best and earliest gay novels ever written.

    I also really liked The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. I often think about that book when I'm on RJ. It actually touches on things I think impacts us in the gay community, in terms of white or even masc being put on a pedestal of "preferences." It really shows how grotesque that is.
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    Aug 20, 2015 4:22 AM GMT
    WriteinDeepSpeak said
    HottJoe saidI could use some new book recommendations, and I do really enjoy books set in different cultures. I've read four different Amy Tan books and my favorite of hers is The 100 Secret Senses. It's the funniest and most mystical of her books.

    However, the book that had the biggest impact on me, and my view of my country, was 12 Years a Slave. At the time I read it, I felt it was the most important book I'd ever read.


    Yeah?? I just started reading Amy Tan!

    Like I said, I'm looking to just start Kate Bornstein after The Kitchen God's Wife. But I've also got a Helen Oyemi book waiting for me (Parable of the Sower)

    but if you want something that is the very definition of irreverent--Samuel R Delaney's "Dhalgren." It will take you out of your comfort zone--and keep going. I've still not been able to finish it.



    I think the only realist way to accomplish this would be if more black people wrote books that people wanted to read. Then it wouldn't matter what race they were.....people would simply read them because they were good books.
  • HottJoe

    Posts: 21366

    Aug 20, 2015 4:26 AM GMT
    Radd said
    WriteinDeepSpeak said
    HottJoe saidI could use some new book recommendations, and I do really enjoy books set in different cultures. I've read four different Amy Tan books and my favorite of hers is The 100 Secret Senses. It's the funniest and most mystical of her books.

    However, the book that had the biggest impact on me, and my view of my country, was 12 Years a Slave. At the time I read it, I felt it was the most important book I'd ever read.


    Yeah?? I just started reading Amy Tan!

    Like I said, I'm looking to just start Kate Bornstein after The Kitchen God's Wife. But I've also got a Helen Oyemi book waiting for me (Parable of the Sower)

    but if you want something that is the very definition of irreverent--Samuel R Delaney's "Dhalgren." It will take you out of your comfort zone--and keep going. I've still not been able to finish it.



    I think the only realist way to accomplish this would be if more black people wrote books that people wanted to read. Then it wouldn't matter what race they were.....people would simply read them because they were good books.

    This is the most ignorant comment ever.

  • Aug 20, 2015 4:32 AM GMT
    QUOTE AUTHOR GOES HEREI think the only realist way to accomplish this would be if more black people wrote books that people wanted to read. Then it wouldn't matter what race they were.....people would simply read them because they were good books.


    You assume we don't already do that. You just haven't heard of us.

    http://www.newrepublic.com/article/121554/2015-hugo-awards-and-history-science-fiction-culture-wars

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_R._Delany

    http://www.npr.org/2014/03/07/282065410/the-professionally-haunted-life-of-helen-oyeyemi



    As you can see, the issue isn't that black writers aren't any good. The issue is that despite how good they are, you still haven't heard of them.

  • Aug 20, 2015 4:34 AM GMT
    not to mention my former instructor:

    http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/ronaldo-v-wilson

  • Aug 20, 2015 4:39 AM GMT
    and one more for the road

    http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/02/27/387533895/this-month-and-every-month-black-sci-fi-writers-look-to-the-future
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    Aug 20, 2015 4:56 AM GMT
    Just checked many of my books, all men. I had no idea but it makes sense considering that much is on the more esoteric topics whereby women would have had less access throughout much of history. Also I wiki'd/googled just now to check race and I find no black men which also makes sense, because a lot of what I read is translations of ancient texts and much of that work was done or researched before/during these more recent periods of civil rights. (while I have in the past read many works by civil right leaders: MLK Jr. & X & whoever back then I used to read). But with the Asian texts, just as a matter of time and place, many of the good works were done by white scholars who traveled earlier in the century to Tibet, to China etc., so they wound up being the translators/writers/editors who I read.

    So looking over quickly it seems I read some stuff by South Americans, by Native Americans, and mostly Asian stuff though much of the latter having been translated by white guys. I read whitewashed Asian.
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    Aug 20, 2015 5:05 AM GMT
    OP is OBVIOUSLY EFFING RACIST icon_rolleyes.gif



  • Zigs_01

    Posts: 226

    Aug 20, 2015 9:01 AM GMT
    I have to agree with OP. I went to the biography section in my library. There must be dozens of books on famous people and most of them were about white people. The thing is that my library was built around when America wasn't all that diverse. However, even than, most 95% is mostly white people. I really have no idea if it's like that on the other libraries. There are books about people of different ethnic origin than which I already read.
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    Aug 20, 2015 9:45 AM GMT
    It depends on the circumstances.

    George Lucas who of course is the mastermind behind Star Wars, not even a handful of years ago got himself a black woman, and young dark skinned one at that <3.

    So anyways, all of a sudden George Lucas started making black movies like Red Tails and stuff.

    So yes white people generally speaking only care about their own achievements. It's sad because they carry all the media power and they should be more open minded.
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    Aug 20, 2015 9:59 AM GMT
    The books one reads often reflects closely the company one keeps. I have a variety of authors on my shelf that matches pretty well with my diverse circle of friends. I don't expect others to have read anything representing me or my culture of origin. It isn't a reauirement...but when they do take the time to do so, it raises them up a notch in my ranking system...plus it usually gives us more shared experiences to talk about when we aren't between the sheets.
  • Crisistunity

    Posts: 109

    Aug 20, 2015 10:34 AM GMT
    I've never judged a book by the cover of its author.

    Next time I visit a bookstore I'll put my race-glasses on to look for the sign

    prod_130884_verso.jpg

    icon_lol.gif

    On a serious note, are Camilo José Cela (1989 Nobel prize in Literature), or Mario Vargas Llosa (2010 Nobel prize in Literature) considered «non-white»? [As I said in another thread, I'm too bad at ethnicities]

    Anyway, if you want to try a bit of Spanish literature, I'd recommend «The Beehive» by Cela which is about the life in post-Civil War Madrid.

    In Spain the Civil War was the event that marked the country the most, same as slavery did to the USofA.

    So any film depicting the Civil War here will be likely to win a lot of Goyas (the Spanish Academy Awards), as it happened with Pan's Labyrinth (it won 7 Goyas, 3 BAFTAs and 3 Oscars) or Pa Negre which won 9 Goyas and had little international repercussion because it was filmed in Catalan, one of the many languages from Spain, which is only spoken by about 10 million people in the world.

  • Crepuscule

    Posts: 723

    Aug 20, 2015 12:12 PM GMT
    Interesting topic.

    The last non-caucasian I _know_ I've read was Toni Morrisons Jazz a few years ago. But this topic did get me thinking...

    Authors from South & Middle America, they're definitely not caucasian, but some people would still brush them all off as "white". And what of the white people living in Africa (especially South Africa) since generations? Although they're white, their story can hardly be seen as euro-centered. Or am I wrong there?
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    Aug 20, 2015 1:45 PM GMT
    How would I know a TV Show was written by someone black?

    I watch the NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt whose certainly better than Liein Williams.
  • FitBlackCuddl...

    Posts: 802

    Aug 20, 2015 1:59 PM GMT
    When was the last time you read a book/watched a show not written by a white person?

    Have been reading Octavia Butler for a time now.
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    Aug 20, 2015 2:59 PM GMT
    HottJoe said
    Radd said
    WriteinDeepSpeak said
    HottJoe saidI could use some new book recommendations, and I do really enjoy books set in different cultures. I've read four different Amy Tan books and my favorite of hers is The 100 Secret Senses. It's the funniest and most mystical of her books.

    However, the book that had the biggest impact on me, and my view of my country, was 12 Years a Slave. At the time I read it, I felt it was the most important book I'd ever read.


    Yeah?? I just started reading Amy Tan!

    Like I said, I'm looking to just start Kate Bornstein after The Kitchen God's Wife. But I've also got a Helen Oyemi book waiting for me (Parable of the Sower)

    but if you want something that is the very definition of irreverent--Samuel R Delaney's "Dhalgren." It will take you out of your comfort zone--and keep going. I've still not been able to finish it.



    I think the only realist way to accomplish this would be if more black people wrote books that people wanted to read. Then it wouldn't matter what race they were.....people would simply read them because they were good books.

    This is the most ignorant comment ever.



    Are you fucking serious? There is nothing "ignorant" about my comment. If you write a good book, people will read it. Period. NO ONE gives a shit about the race of a damn author (except the OP apparently.) Look at Maya Angelou. She is a favorite of all races of readers because the woman can write. Now we're calling for Affirmative Action on what books we read now? It's you who is the ignorant one.
  • AttisXVI

    Posts: 293

    Aug 20, 2015 3:13 PM GMT
    Erik101 saidWhen I read a book and see the author's name, all I see is their name. I have no clue what they look like. So that means I don't care what race the author is because my interest solely lies within the plot of the book.


    This^

    I totally judge books by their covers and what other people tell me about them. The only two authors I seek out by name are Scott Westerfeld and Chuck Palahniuk. The rest I don't care about. The Author blurb in the back of the book is probably the least interesting part.