7 Sept 2023
As Spring raises her sleepy head and daffodils now fill my home, I am counting down.
In three sleeps I head off to the International Dublin Writer's Festival where I have been invited to speak. Online tix (Sept 15 - 17) are available if you wish to attend from your studio/office/lounge room. My topic explores the authentic self in fiction, in the context of appropriation.
Current debate challenges authors' appropriation of culture, race and gender in fiction. In this context, what is an authentic voice?
In the fictional landscape, authors are encouraged to explore the boundaries of imagination. Yet recent trends in the US sees traditional publishers increasingly rejecting work if authors are not mirrored in the cultural, racial, or gender backgrounds of the characters within their narratives.
The contentious debate surrounding appropriation highlights issues around power, privilege, and the impact of representation on marginalized communities. Authenticity has become a defining criterion. Determining what qualifies as authentic raises questions of who has authority to speak for, or incorporate, a particular culture, race, or gender. Understanding what constitutes an authentic voice is crucial.
Critics argue that authors from dominant groups should approach writing about marginalized experiences with caution, as they may not fully comprehend the nuances and realities faced by these communities. Renowned psychologist Brene Brown stresses “we cannot ever walk in someone else’s shoes.” On the other hand, proponents advocate for writers to explore and depict diverse experiences, promoting literature as a space for imagination and empathy.
Is it possible to write with authenticity under threat of an accusation of appropriation? Is a creative balance possible through acknowledgement of the power, history, and identity that lie within the folds of appropriation? What outcome does this, or should this, have on an authors’ creativity?
After the festival I fly from Dublin to Chicago to attend the 10th Anniversary Conference of the Women's Fiction Writers Association (WFWA). I have scheduled to meet a NY agent and a small print publisher to ascertain the future direction of KazJoyPress.