Minorities and Mainstream Reading
May 9, 2014 | 2:40 pm
By Joanna Cabot
A great little write-up from today’s Morning Links gave me some food for thought during my commute today. Swapna Krishna writes about the difficulties of finding great ‘minority’ fiction to read, and she makes some points that I, in my quest to read more Jewish books this year, had come to myself.
For instance, she talks about the ‘heaviness’ of some cultural fiction. It can be good sometimes. It can make for an interesting and nuanced read. But what if you just want to read a romance or a mystery—with characters who ‘happen to be be’ Black or Asian or Indian? These books, she says, are harder to find.
My experience has borne this out as well. Jewish-themed writing is overwhelmingly dominated by Holocaust stories, and not just in non-fiction. Many of these are amazingly well-done stories, but they really can be ‘heavy’ stuff. I am sure I am not the only reader who seeks out these books and then finally reaches a saturation point.
Finally, Krishna addresses the issue of how to get this diversity achieved. Can white authors write minority characters? Here is her conclusion:
“Preeti Chhibber, a fellow Rioter, wrote about that really well—her bottom line, and one that I agree with wholeheartedly, is that we need more diversity, regardless of how we come by it, because we don’t live in an ideal world.”
On my personal Jewish media wish list? I would early love to see a network television show do a Hanukkah episode—not a Christmas episode where the token secular Jew character sings one round of the dreidel song in between the finely wrought Christmas stuff, but an actual full-out, starring role Hanukkah show, perhaps with some original songs which school children can co-opt for the annual holiday concerts at their schools. Sorkin did a Passover episode on Sports Night; why can’t we have a Hanukkah show too?