Thursday, March 27, 2014

Identity politics affects the way stories are being circulated, read and reviewed

The writer and commuter James Baldwin gave an interview in 1984 in which he was repeatedly asked about his homosexuality. When the interviewer tried to pigeonhole him as a gay writer, Baldwin stopped and said, "But don't you see? There's nothing in me that is not in everybody else, and nothing in everybody else that is not in me." When identity politics tries to put labels on us, it is our freedom of imagination that is in danger. There's a fuzzy category called multicultural literature in which all authors from outside the Western world are lumped together. I never forget my first multicultural reading, in Harvard Square about 10 years ago. We were three writers, one from the Philippines, one Turkish and one Indonesian -- like a joke, you know. (Laughter) And the reason why we were brought together was not because we shared an artistic style or a literary taste. It was only because of our passports.Multicultural writers are expected to tell real stories, not so much the imaginary. A function is attributed to fiction. In this way, not only the writers themselves, but also their fictional characters become the representatives of something larger.


  1. I hope I never take the serendipity of the internet for granted. I've landed here after a series of around the world literary-like links, only to find not only a love for your sensibilities, but also that you live out my back door. I went to school years ago at Rhodes, now live in Nashville, and vacation in Monteagle, TN, just steps from Sewanee. What an extraordinary path you've trod! I've bookmarked your site and look forward to digging deeper when I can. Take care!

    1. Thank you so much! Your note absolutely made my day! As a friend once told me, the world is an inch.

      What were you looking for that led you here? Maybe I can help?