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Rachel Udin
07-25-2012, 09:37 PM
No, this is not a put down to great leaders like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, but it is a question I've been burning to ask since I was an Asian kid growing up in a White Jewish family... and probably further fueled by going to my country of birth.

Is our fiction helping to bolster stereotypes?

For example. I looked up Korea on Goodreads and I was like, WTH... we have authors in Korea writing about more diverse subject matter than this! Why isn't it being imported?

Korea's stories were either native-imported all sad and based on the Korean war, aftermath of it or just down right sad (what Koreans would term makjang). There was two books about anything before the Korean war, one was written by a white person who by the review reports from fellow Koreans didn't know what she was doing. Then there were the immigration stories. Then the rest were on adoption stuff. *sighs*

This has been my curse in racism since I was a little kid. (Do you know about the Korean war? Oh your country is so sad... *sighs*) I've always hoped for myself that I would have stories a bit closer to Linda Sue Park (Who is on Goodreads) where the issue wasn't sadness and war. (But she's YA. What? Adults can't handle foreign countries that break stereotype?)

OK... So I'm thinking, they didn't import stories like Moon Embracing the Sun, or Coffee Prince or any of those other novels I am not quite fluent enough to read, but manhwa (again, is fine). (Cartoons for the kiddies! Yay. <-- sarcasm)

Right... so in Korea they auto-import English-based books and movies, but the US doesn't do the same courtesy for other countries.

Cue Japan... So I'm thinking... maybe I'm just striking out. Maybe if I look at other countries I'll get a better picture.

As much as I like Natsume and classic authors, and I feel lukewarm towards 1Q84... I can't help but feel like the same kind of thing is happening to poor Japan. It's either Science Fiction/Fantasy from Japan or samurai, or ninjas or geisha. I don't begrudge fiction being about, say the Japanese war or Japanese Occupation or even the Japanese concentration camps in the US... but I thought the US was smart enough to also import, you know, the other stuff. The stuff that's about every day Japanese living. Instead, I feel like I have to bend over backwards to put in the effort.

Again, India. One book set before the Mughal Empire. (Makes me very, very sad.) NO books in India about the Kushan Empire. TT (I am screaming over here... What about the other Empires?)

I do give great kudos to the African American authors that managed to break stereotypes about African American life and culture being all about slavery... looking at the other places/cultures as I sorted through good reads, I realized how friggin' hard that must have been. (Again, not begrudging those books, but looking at the diversity within the selection set.)

But I can't help feel from my end that perhaps we have a real weakness. (Or is it that the people on Goodreads are mostly White and that's what's being added or is it that amazon celebrates that too?) Is it that publishers are dismissing books that don't fit the white cultural narrative, or is it that the internalization of racism is so great that breaking from that cultural narrative when writing about our own cultures becomes so hard? How much do publishers and people create the market which in turn creates itself by pigeon holing that market (i.e. self perpetuating)? And I'll ask, too, why not import books from foreign countries in addition to the usual fare that don't fit that cultural narrative?

I'd really love to read something like Coffee Prince in English. Which has none of the features of war... *with* the cultural narrative of the Japanese occupation from a Korean POV. I'd love to read about contemporary Japanese doing every day things that would strike the average reader as "Just like us." *along* with the crazy meka and alternate realities.

I have to ask, why can't I find those books without the use of fan translators?

I also kinda feel alone... since from my research apparently I'm the only person who is aiming to write an adult book set in Three Kingdoms Korea. Makes me cry. When I was a kid, I thought my fellow Koreans would write and publishers would import the books. (I've been waiting for such books to be imported for over 20 years here. I guess that was a delusional dream) When there were none, I thought, dammit, they need to be written. I have to write them (but I want to write other things too). I also want to write about contemporary Koreans living in Korea without white people showing up without it being all sad and about the Korean war, but I seriously hesitate given the state of affairs.

(I'd write about Jews, but there was more success there than the Korean side... though I do have a few gripes about that too)

When it comes to PoCs, is it true that story comes first, or does it matter if it fits the cultural narrative of what the culture "should" be?

Oh and this partially comes because I'm depressed about the first review on Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon on Goodreads. Makes me go WTF... also the white washing on the cover and the "reissue" of the first book, Silver Phoenix to make sure the lovely Chinese person in Han-style clothes gets cut out. (Also makes me go WTF--The book is set in China! If people are going to be offended... they are going to be offended on page one. *rant* *rant*) BTW, she's on AW... so if she sees this... umm... hi...

Kitty27
07-26-2012, 05:21 PM
I call this Minority Pathology Porn.

There is a unique emphasis on books featuring the absolute worst time frames for minorities and these books becoming best sellers.

I cannot tell you how tired AA's are of "The Help","The Secret Life Of Bees" and their ilk. Always set in the slavery era or BEFORE civil rights era,there is also an unpleasant theme with these books. We were in our "place",if you get my meaning and the Noble Suffering Negro/Mammy are safe and believable archetypes for quite a few.

I believe the same holds true for other minorities. Never show a group at a high point in their history,before colonialism and war. The book must always be about suffering,loss,agony,etc. Some people have such ingrained prejudice that they refuse to believe these cultures had their own thing going on for thousands of years and didn't receive enlightenment until Europeans invaded. I'd like to read what you mentioned. I like to see other cultures and learn their histories or just read a good book without all this insistence on pathology porn.

I bought Cindy's books for my daughter and to support a POC author. I cannot speak on whitewashing lest I start ranting uncontrollably:rant::Soapbox:

Write your book. Don't get discouraged whatsoever. I am writing an epic fantasy based on African,Caribbean and African American culture with an all Black cast. I intend to forge right ahead. You do the same.

Lavern08
07-26-2012, 06:34 PM
...Write your book. Don't get discouraged whatsoever.

I intend to forge right ahead. You do the same.

Yeah that ^ ;)

aruna
07-26-2012, 08:55 PM
No, this is not a put down to great leaders like Ghandi, Martin Luther King, but it is a question I've been burning to ask since I was an Asian kid growing up in a White Jewish family... and probably further fueled by going to my country of birth.


Before I begin, may I just say that Gandhi is spelled Gandhi, not Ghandi! Don't worry, it's a common mistake and one of my pet peeves.




But I can't help feel from my end that perhaps we have a real weakness. (Or is it that the people on Goodreads are mostly White and that's what's being added or is it that amazon celebrates that too?) Is it that publishers are dismissing books that don't fit the white cultural narrative, or is it that the internalization of racism is so great that breaking from that cultural narrative when writing about our own cultures becomes so hard? How much do publishers and people create the market which in turn creates itself by pigeon holing that market (i.e. self perpetuating)? And I'll ask, too, why not import books from foreign countries in addition to the usual fare that don't fit that cultural narrative?It's this. And it's made me sad for years. And yet I just plough on.
My books DO have white characters. That's because the culture I write about is very diverse, and it would be impossible to have my setting there without whites and British colonial history and all that.

But it makes me sad that, broadly speaking and form a publisher's POV, there is really no interest among whites to learn about cultures outside their own. I mean, we have always gobbled up books set in the US and the UK -- why is the favour not returned?

As for the expression Minority Pathology Porn -- I just wish our books were even a fraction as popular as porn. It makes me sad, and somewhat jealous, to see all these runaway bestsellers featuring all-white characters in the same-old same-old settings while our books languish far behind and (almost) nobody cares to read them.

Still, I write on. And because I write about a country that just about nobody outside its borders knows jack-shit about, I do use a lot of the negative history (slavery, aftermath of slavery etc) as the historical backdrop. Perhaps that's my pornographic hook, to get whites interested in the first place! Because my more contemporary novels have none of that. The point here, though, that in my culture POC are the majority.

(I watched The Secret Life of Bees the other day and I almost pulled my hair out! Talk about white ego-stroking!)

aruna
07-26-2012, 09:07 PM
BTW Rachel, you might want to check out a thread I once started: "White People Only want to Read ABout Themselves" (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=233759)

And I also wanted to add, that it isn't just a YA problem. It's across the entire spectrum of fiction.

Rachel Udin
07-27-2012, 04:56 AM
Before I begin, may I just say that Gandhi is spelled Gandhi, not Ghandi! Don't worry, it's a common mistake and one of my pet peeves.

Sorry! Thank you very much for the correction.




It's this. And it's made me sad for years. And yet I just plough on.
My books DO have white characters. That's because the culture I write about is very diverse, and it would be impossible to have my setting there without whites and British colonial history and all that.

But it makes me sad that, broadly speaking and form a publisher's POV, there is really no interest among whites to learn about cultures outside their own. I mean, we have always gobbled up books set in the US and the UK -- why is the favour not returned?
This was my concern when I was in China, Korea and Japan. About every day there were shows *in English* and English movies, but then in the US, I'm like, OK, give me that section. Where is it? *crying* Where is it? What~! I want the section that has translated books. *rage fest* Why isn't the courtesy returned?

So I was like gimme Indian books by Indians NOW. *looking* WHAT? You mean I'm the only one that thought to write before the Mughal Empire in English--what about the imported books? Give me the imported books! Where are the titles? Why can't the stupid English Internet give me titles?

The sad thing is that it isn't a two-way street. And even with white countries with other white countries (though not as bad). You *will* in France hear an American song *twitch* but a French song in America. Heeeeeellll noooo. (Not much better across the channel)

Tons of translations of Harry Potter. I could find it in the Japanese bookstore. Novel Sauinkoku with Japanese writing a fantasy novel set in China. No.

Harold and the Purple Crayon, in Korean. Where is my Coffee Prince in English??? I sooo want that now. And the other books. Going to international bookstores depresses me because the English books are front and center and then when I go to an American/British bookstore (Occasionally Canadian) I'm scouring the shelves. I'm looking in the international section and going, huh? Where are my lovelies? And this is made somewhat worse because I can see how Korea, Japan and China are fervently exchanging their media even though it's in a different language and have actual TV time dedicated to a *National* broadcast of such things. And also I'm seeing through watching Korean TV some of the internationalism I missed whereupon these books foreign to mentioned countries are cornerstones of understanding the world culture. And I'm like gimme some of that too... Why not? Why can't I find that book in ENGLISH? *rage fest* Enough to give me a headache.

Don't get me into the whole being told that East Asians simply didn't like fiction because they were meant to be lawyers, doctors and computer programmers bit~ (I was blank out told that Asians don't become actors because culture says no, and I'm like... uhhh... but I thought they have TV over there. "Yeah, but you know how shunned the actors are.") Oh and this includes India too. This was repeated throughout my childhood, and I bought it until I was blank out told, no. That's BS. TT



As for the expression Minority Pathology Porn -- I just wish our books were even a fraction as popular as porn. It makes me sad, and somewhat jealous, to see all these runaway bestsellers featuring all-white characters in the same-old same-old settings while our books languish far behind and (almost) nobody cares to read them.

Still, I write on. And because I write about a country that just about nobody outside its borders knows jack-shit about, I do use a lot of the negative history (slavery, aftermath of slavery etc) as the historical backdrop. Perhaps that's my ppornographic hook, to get whites interested in the first place! Because my more contemporary novels have none of that. The point here, though, that in my culture POC are the majority.

(I watched The Secret Life of Bees the other day and I almost pulled my hair out! Talk about white ego-stroking!)

Yeah, unfortunately, the only porn I have in my book (planned) is forbidden kissing and an indicated sex scene, with the rest implied. Does not have the cultures at a low point--it has them rising and becoming powerful. And unfortunately, there are no whites that show up. Mentioned, yes, show up, no. I debated having them show up on the Silk Road as mere traders, but I figure that was kinda extraneous to the main plot. I know, no Tom Cruise is saving the day. And I know... there is slavery, but it's all of the same skin color.

I'll brace for impact, then. OMG where are the white people? What? Why can't a white person wear a sari on the cover in Nivi style. (I'd die, twitching, especially after all the heart-breaking amount of research I did.) But I ain't changing it to suit whatever pigeon that want to hammer in the butt into that hole.


I call this Minority Pathology Porn.

There is a unique emphasis on books featuring the absolute worst time frames for minorities and these books becoming best sellers.

I cannot tell you how tired AA's are of "The Help","The Secret Life Of Bees" and their ilk. Always set in the slavery era or BEFORE civil rights era,there is also an unpleasant theme with these books. We were in our "place",if you get my meaning and the Noble Suffering Negro/Mammy are safe and believable archetypes for quite a few.

I believe the same holds true for other minorities. Never show a group at a high point in their history,before colonialism and war. The book must always be about suffering,loss,agony,etc. Some people have such ingrained prejudice that they refuse to believe these cultures had their own thing going on for thousands of years and didn't receive enlightenment until Europeans invaded. I'd like to read what you mentioned. I like to see other cultures and learn their histories or just read a good book without all this insistence on pathology porn.

I bought Cindy's books for my daughter and to support a POC author. I cannot speak on whitewashing lest I start ranting uncontrollably:rant::Soapbox:

Write your book. Don't get discouraged whatsoever. I am writing an epic fantasy based on African,Caribbean and African American culture with an all Black cast. I intend to forge right ahead. You do the same.
Right. Fight.

And I hope that at some point the shelves won't have to be covered with only that one narrative of PoCs needing to be rescued or else they are in absolute despair. I'm kinda sick of it which is why I almost all bailed out of watching US TV.

And I do have a huge rant stored up with the whitewashing on the cover of Cindy's novel. (also for that reviewer on Goodreads who was all, OMG why isn't this Asian book Japanese... I hate it because aren't all Asians alike?) Also the whole Xia must be Chinese-like. Read the author notes. It was a real time period she's writing about. TT

But still, can't we get a leg up some? Can't some publishers and agents be like, "No, you don't have to write about Samurai in order to write about Japan." and "No, it doesn't have to be about being black and slavery to include blacks." I hope I can find one... 'cause whole streaks of stuff stored in my head are going to come out that way.

yttar
07-28-2012, 09:38 PM
I'm going to chime in and say that I loved Coffee Prince. I watched it in Korean with English subtitles from Crunchy Roll.

One of my favorite movies is a Korean martial arts comedy called Kim Kwon Jon vs. Kim Kwon Jon vs. Kim Kwon Jon. My husband and I saw that while we were in the theater in South Korea. I've never seen it with subtitles, and would love if it were imported to the US.

And I would love to read anything set in the Three Kingdoms period. I've thought about writing a story set in that time myself, I just haven't done nearly enough research on it yet.

I also agree that Japan is more than ninja, samurai, and geisha. Nevermind that geisha isn't even the word they use, but maiko-san. Same with wakasashi, though I can't remember the term used instead.

Yttar

Kitty27
07-29-2012, 12:03 AM
I know,Aruna. I wish that,too. I always read books from authors outside my culture and ethnic group. My daughter loves Cindy's books and is crazy about K-Pop and movies. That might not mean much but at least she's willing to see the author's talent and not say,"Oh,I am not Asian so I won't read or identify with an Asian author or character" As we say in the South,I don't play that round chea.

With regard to the AA community,I KNOW there is a huge readership extremely tired of urban fiction and erotica. If I don't know anything else,I know this and marketing to it is what I fully intend to do. It is amazing to me that some people will listen to Black music,copy our fashion and culture but run like hell from a Black character or Black author. Ah,well. I take heart that not every reader is like that and the wonderful world of self publishing enables many Black authors to reach an audience and get paid doing so. The music industry caught on real quick but sometimes I think publishing firmly remains in another time frame with regard to what books they will publish. Yet there is hope. I see agents specifically asking for multicultural books and hopefully that means they know editors who are looking for such books or they personally want to champion these books.

Growing up,I never cared about the author's color or the character's. I just plain loved to read a good book. I still do. So does my bookworm daughter. I just wish others would have that same attitude.

Whitewashing covers is some serious bullshit,excuse my language. This country is getting more diversified by the day and publishers are missing a HUGE market with plenty of dollars due to stubborn attitudes about Blacks don't read and other stereotypical rot. The mess with The Last Airbender,Prince Of Persia,Angelina Jolie playing a Biracial woman and other whitewashing is an epidemic that really makes no financial sense.

These movies utterly bombed at the box office and many people called Hollywood out for this messy casting. But we as POC also have to share some blame. I have never understood why anime and manga characters look white. I am not saying there is a definitive way for Asian people to look. But these characters almost never resemble the talented folks who create them. Black people and our colorism/light skin obsession could take YEARS to understand. What we uphold in our communities, others notice and take that as what we want to see.

I would think Hollywood would notice how Think Like A Man knocked The Hunger Games from the top spot and how Fast And Furious,which featured a multiracial cast,killed the box office.

These movies proved that Blacks want to see non stereotypical mess and have the almighty dollars to make a movie a hit. Plus,Fast And Furious showed White moviegoers wouldn't run shrieking in horror because a Black or Asian face was in the cast.

Yet it continues. All we can do as authors is keep writing and keep pushing.


Is it that publishers are dismissing books that don't fit the white cultural narrative, or is it that the internalization of racism is so great that breaking from that cultural narrative when writing about our own cultures becomes so hard?

Probably a combination of both. With the African American readership,we have the numbers to truly have our own genres/authors and the money to support them. But it was a long and hard road that we are still on. For some,they want to be published so badly in the traditional sense,they will suppress their true leanings and conform by writing what the dominant market wants to read.Sad but true. I think publishing refuses to see that other groups want to see something different,especially in rocky times like now. The urge to stick with tried and true money makers is quite strong now. But the thing is that market isn't as certain as it once was. Harry Potter,Twilight and now The Hunger Games put YA on the map. But it's almost like an episode of Highlander now with regards to that blockbuster genre. One comes along every three years or so and that's it. Other authors get published but they come nowhere near the blockbuster format and just fade quietly away. I expect it's tough times all around.
It's even worse for books that don't fit the tried and true format.

I used to be down on self publishing but now I see how valuable it is for writers who don't fit in that area that publishing seems to want. But I still have some hope about traditional publishing and agents who are specifically looking for multicultural. This is going to come down to the almighty dollar. If ONE book with a POC MC/themes can blow up and do it big,this will open doors. Money talks in American society and unfortunately,talent comes a distant second.

And I'll ask, too, why not import books from foreign countries in addition to the usual fare that don't fit that cultural narrative?

That's the American way,unfortunately. We're an arrogant bunch and the stereotype that Americans only focus on their own culture has more truth than fiction to it.

maxmordon
07-29-2012, 08:31 AM
First off, I LOVE Coffee Prince. A state-owned TV has been showing it on weekday afternoons here.

Same thing with Latin American media. It's all either a García Márquez-like past Juan Váldez-style or a story of crime and social upheal bordering on exploitation cinema. And it's not just something US and Europe ask but Latinos themselves ask these things saying they are more "our culture" than, I don't know, Latin American science fiction or romantic comedies as they are regarded as invassive.

Meanwhile, in the real world, I have noticed Latinos tired of seeing "social issues" cinema since they get lots of that from their daily lives and go for US-made entertainment to get some escapism and variety than being reminded of poverty, inequality, crime and whatnot. Well-intended artists see the people going for escapism and try to make a socially-relevant piece that ends up reminding people once again of their problems or some epic glorious past they are sick of hearing over and over again, which happens a lot here in Venezuela.

Meanwhile, in the first world, people will prefer Rulfo's Pedro Páramo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedro_P%C3%A1ramo) over Sábato's El Túnel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_T%C3%BAnel) any given day. Not because due quality but simply for the fact that the former feels more "Latino" than the later, or at least the idea of what Latino is. While if they wanted to read a psychological thriller, they have dozens of English (or French or Russian, etc.) speaking authors that could offer them such story and it would be more relatable to them. So why bother?

Rachel Udin
07-30-2012, 10:03 AM
I'm going to chime in and say that I loved Coffee Prince. I watched it in Korean with English subtitles from Crunchy Roll.

One of my favorite movies is a Korean martial arts comedy called Kim Kwon Jon vs. Kim Kwon Jon vs. Kim Kwon Jon. My husband and I saw that while we were in the theater in South Korea. I've never seen it with subtitles, and would love if it were imported to the US.

And I would love to read anything set in the Three Kingdoms period. I've thought about writing a story set in that time myself, I just haven't done nearly enough research on it yet.

I also agree that Japan is more than ninja, samurai, and geisha. Nevermind that geisha isn't even the word they use, but maiko-san. Same with wakasashi, though I can't remember the term used instead.

Yttar

Maiko are Geisha in training... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geisha (Supported by Lisa Dalby, Geisha and further by Kimono)

Coffee Prince started out as a book. I liked the ending of the book more than the TV series. I want to read the book~ Also the book of Moon Embracing the Sun. There are *summaries* but it's not the same as a translation. So, I'm wondering when someone will get a clue and start translating text without the pictures. (Not begrudging manhwa here. I just love my variety.) Instead I have to depend on summaries. I want a physical book. I'd settle for an audiobook too.

Sungkyunkwan Scandal was a little bit of a mess, but I'd also like to read the book of that too.

And I'm sure there are other books I would like to read if they made them available that aren't about Korea under oppression and all depressed. Can't I read something where I don't have to have a lousy self image and have to consume Korean dramas/go to Korea to do it? You know, a book. I'd love a book. Every time there is a book mentioned in connection to the drama you should see me looking at the screen and sighing. Ah~ I'd like to hear a translated book from Korea like that. (Personal Preference had a book originally that is was based on. And I also went Ah~ I'd like to see in novel form how Korea is viewing QUILTBAG issues, too.)

Japan, too. I sighed when the light novels weren't translated. They even have pictures in them. I get it, a translator is expensive, but still... if 1Q84 can be a number 1 best seller, then why not about the usual life of Japan?

Plus a complete translation of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which is high on the "Must read" list in East Asia... didn't have a complete translation until recently. Classic.

And I'm not picking on just East Asia. I'd like to see *worldwide* fiction like this too. Speak a country, and I'm there. (I consume a fair amount of British and Canadian fiction too. I'm an equal opportunity English-speaking country reader) What do you know, some of the countries even speak *English* that could be used as direct import... so the excuses become thinner... (I've got a list of countries in mind I'd love to see from native authors.)


I know,Aruna. I wish that,too. I always read books from authors outside my culture and ethnic group. My daughter loves Cindy's books and is crazy about K-Pop and movies. That might not mean much but at least she's willing to see the author's talent and not say,"Oh,I am not Asian so I won't read or identify with an Asian author or character" As we say in the South,I don't play that round chea.

With regard to the AA community,I KNOW there is a huge readership extremely tired of urban fiction and erotica. If I don't know anything else,I know this and marketing to it is what I fully intend to do. It is amazing to me that some people will listen to Black music,copy our fashion and culture but run like hell from a Black character or Black author. Ah,well. I take heart that not every reader is like that and the wonderful world of self publishing enables many Black authors to reach an audience and get paid doing so. The music industry caught on real quick but sometimes I think publishing firmly remains in another time frame with regard to what books they will publish. Yet there is hope. I see agents specifically asking for multicultural books and hopefully that means they know editors who are looking for such books or they personally want to champion these books.
Welcome to making a culture a fetish. Japan has those issues in the US currently. I know, I get prejudice for that crap. (though I'm Korean...)

Is exactly as you said before... as long as it looks exotic it's OK.

I'm really hoping that agents are thinking and looking more. Not so much for myself, but because, really, I'd rather read it than write it. I write to the holes in the market because I can't find something better.




Growing up,I never cared about the author's color or the character's. I just plain loved to read a good book. I still do. So does my bookworm daughter. I just wish others would have that same attitude.Same here. I didn't care. See, I have L.M. Montgomery, Jane Yolen, Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey, Melanie Rawn, JRR Tolkien, LE Modesitt, Louisa May Alcott, Sherilyn Kenyon...

But I also was attracted to books that talked about the world, so a huge book of Greek and Roman myths, the Egyptian myths. Children collection of African American myths by Virginia Hamilton, Zora Neale Hurston, Russian folktales, (and for supplimental reading I spent a lot of time with maps and Native American tribes, automatically going to the folktales section of the library. I'd then look up the name of the tribe, the map region and then figure out the other tribes I'd heard in the area.) I realized only recently that my shelves have lots of variety to them, lots of international fiction and I've consumed a ton of stuff. But most of all I want a good story--no matter if it's Warm and Fuzzy fluff, the mind screw of a lifetime, or something that wrings my heart in two. (If you can manage all three in one book in a convincing fashion, I think I'm yours forever.)



Whitewashing covers is some serious bullshit,excuse my language. This country is getting more diversified by the day and publishers are missing a HUGE market with plenty of dollars due to stubborn attitudes about Blacks don't read and other stereotypical rot. The mess with The Last Airbender,Prince Of Persia,Angelina Jolie playing a Biracial woman and other whitewashing is an epidemic that really makes no financial sense.
All respects to Cindy Pon for a great book, but seriously, that first cover rocked my socks off. I was staring at it the whole way through. I was cheering for the fact that there was a *beautiful* and well-formed PoC on the cover, no holds bar. And then the Second Edition came out and I was like, WTH is that? Who made that decision? I thought the first cover was better (better typography, better design and actually told you a little about what the book was about.) I cannot understand that. Thumbs up to Cindy Pon, though for the beautiful website. =D Just saying....

Sorry, but people of color read, but they have to sort through drivel that tells them they are either in need of rescue or less than (Because they are all sad). That's a huge market. 30% by last count. We do read. And don't think that the 70% white won't watch/read people of color. The majority of the fan rage for Last Airbender was by whites.

Why can't we get a Michelle West? (Japanese descent, BTW). She did some awesome stuff with Indian culture that surprised me that when I was in the bookstore I was like, "Second book... dammit, second book... but I must buy this." Covers for that... Canada actually published PoCs on the cover as a central character. I was like damn... really? (BTW, great covers) Some Canadian TV shows and books do better on race/diversity which always gets to me. It's not "Meet my gay friend who is uber gay" or meet my friend that is Indian. It's meet my friend. Oh, he's going to a party. He'll talk about some things at the party naturally. End. (Always gets an awesome out of me and backing them up to study and revel in the casual slip in without erasing race in the process.)


These movies utterly bombed at the box office and many people called Hollywood out for this messy casting. But we as POC also have to share some blame. I have never understood why anime and manga characters look white. I am not saying there is a definitive way for Asian people to look. But these characters almost never resemble the talented folks who create them. Long and messy explanation for this one. I'll refer you to Manga! Manga! Manga! by Fredrick Schodt. He goes over extensively why it turned out that way. On the upside, there are anime/manga that depict all characters with Japanese features. (And not the stereotypical ones either) Downside, hate to say this, but some of the African Americans drawn need work. (I blame the US for this mainly, though, but that's a whole other thing I'd have to cover, I think it was covered in the movie "The N Word" which I watched for Anthropology class. Has some good stuff with actual black people discussing it rather than whites discussing it. Swear it makes me full stop going anywhere near that word. Should be required watching for anyone thinking of using the N word.)

Miyazaki's films I like for the fact that he doesn't fudge people of color. (The senior of the two. The junior needs a spanking. See Ursula LeGuin's essay of disappointment)


Black people and our colorism/light skin obsession could take YEARS to understand. What we uphold in our communities, others notice and take that as what we want to see.

I would think Hollywood would notice how Think Like A Man knocked The Hunger Games from the top spot and how Fast And Furious,which featured a multiracial cast,killed the box office.Or fan rage at Warners for Akira...

Didn't Harold and Kumar do decent?


These movies proved that Blacks want to see non stereotypical mess and have the almighty dollars to make a movie a hit. Plus,Fast And Furious showed White moviegoers wouldn't run shrieking in horror because a Black or Asian face was in the cast.

Yet it continues. All we can do as authors is keep writing and keep pushing.
I'm really hoping I can get it past the publishers. I'm working hard on getting it to work. I'm trying to fight myself too... and I'm hoping the fact that the first section is *not* set in Mughal India (you know, when whites came) will not turn publishers away. That strong main female characters who are also PoC (and varied) won't turn them away. I know I'm risking strikes against it by not writing to the old White dude Aristotle either and using a different plot structure... (one I borrowed from Korean, India and China... roughly in that order--though I had to mix some American plot structure in too--marketing, ya know.) that I can get away with it.

You fight too. I hope to see you on the other side. 'Cause I'm aching for such fair fiction.

And even if not, I'm still going to write diversity. I can't get away from it, not after I woke up to the real world and found that unlike my white parents I'm facing prejudices they simply did not have. I can't stand to see another person have to live through the dearth of positive PoC fiction I had to endure. It's painful when you have 6 feet of 3 book shelves and only TWO books are about a living human being from your own culture. Books about Asia? I could count them on two hands from the time I was a young kid to the time I was a graduate of High School. (Manga in Japanese don't count. That's cheating.) And none of them are about building a positive self image by showing them as normal. I want to give to the next generation what I didn't have.


Is it that publishers are dismissing books that don't fit the white cultural narrative, or is it that the internalization of racism is so great that breaking from that cultural narrative when writing about our own cultures becomes so hard?

Probably a combination of both. With the African American readership,we have the numbers to truly have our own genres/authors and the money to support them. But it was a long and hard road that we are still on. For some,they want to be published so badly in the traditional sense,they will suppress their true leanings and conform by writing what the dominant market wants to read.Sad but true. I think publishing refuses to see that other groups want to see something different,especially in rocky times like now. The urge to stick with tried and true money makers is quite strong now. But the thing is that market isn't as certain as it once was. Harry Potter,Twilight and now The Hunger Games put YA on the map. But it's almost like an episode of Highlander now with regards to that blockbuster genre. One comes along every three years or so and that's it. Other authors get published but they come nowhere near the blockbuster format and just fade quietly away. I expect it's tough times all around.
It's even worse for books that don't fit the tried and true format.

I used to be down on self publishing but now I see how valuable it is for writers who don't fit in that area that publishing seems to want. But I still have some hope about traditional publishing and agents who are specifically looking for multicultural. This is going to come down to the almighty dollar. If ONE book with a POC MC/themes can blow up and do it big,this will open doors. Money talks in American society and unfortunately,talent comes a distant second.
I'll make wishes it's you before me. =D

I'm hoping for at least one and in such a way that PoC isn't a "fad." Fetishism sucks. Getting cat calls on the street for the color of your skin. It sucks.



And I'll ask, too, why not import books from foreign countries in addition to the usual fare that don't fit that cultural narrative?

That's the American way,unfortunately. We're an arrogant bunch and the stereotype that Americans only focus on their own culture has more truth than fiction to it.Still, utterly sad. People should stop using "Melting pot" as the term for the US. It's not even close.


First off, I LOVE Coffee Prince. A state-owned TV has been showing it on weekday afternoons here.

Same thing with Latin American media. It's all either a García Márquez-like past Juan Váldez-style or a story of crime and social upheal bordering on exploitation cinema. And it's not just something US and Europe ask but Latinos themselves ask these things saying they are more "our culture" than, I don't know, Latin American science fiction or romantic comedies as they are regarded as invassive.

Meanwhile, in the real world, I have noticed Latinos tired of seeing "social issues" cinema since they get lots of that from their daily lives and go for US-made entertainment to get some escapism and variety than being reminded of poverty, inequality, crime and whatnot. Well-intended artists see the people going for escapism and try to make a socially-relevant piece that ends up reminding people once again of their problems or some epic glorious past they are sick of hearing over and over again, which happens a lot here in Venezuela.

Meanwhile, in the first world, people will prefer Rulfo's Pedro Páramo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedro_P%C3%A1ramo) over Sábato's El Túnel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_T%C3%BAnel) any given day. Not because due quality but simply for the fact that the former feels more "Latino" than the later, or at least the idea of what Latino is. While if they wanted to read a psychological thriller, they have dozens of English (or French or Russian, etc.) speaking authors that could offer them such story and it would be more relatable to them. So why bother?

Sábato... El Túnel, I'd read it in a flash. Give me a translation and I'd buy and read it. 'cause I like psychological thriller over blood and gore thriller and I like the plot better. Give me a good story and I'm there.

And your first line makes me happy that you get to see it locally and sad at the same time--showing it's not that hard. *sighs* There is an advantage to not being from the privileged class/race/country. You get to see more of the world.

maxmordon
07-30-2012, 09:24 PM
You know, speaking of "Melting Pot", this touches something that bugs me of Globalization. People tend to look at it and say that's good because it's egalitarian: Now all cultures can share their own elements to the rest, but the truth is that it's not egalitarian at all.

Yes, it's true, we are more aware than ever of the work of other culture around the world, but you see US and Europe still being the axis of enterteinment, along with sciences and art. This is unavoidable, but doesn't stop feeling wrong. It feels than in order, for example, of Japanese, Chinese or Korean productions (books, movies, etc.) to arrive to Latin America, they have first to pass through the Euro-American filter.

In the Venezuelan case, I feel things too polarizing. You either have people on one side saying one must defend the flag, the cross, the hero worship to 19th century generals, the cockfights and rodeos and swear that our culture has no defects except the treats from the outside world and the other side saying our culture is just the third-world leftover of a civilization barely bordering on barbarism and that we should imitate Americans or Spaniards or the French and so on... both sides have a point and both sides are wrong, obviously.

What I see, though, is that Venezuela is slowly stopping to have a pop culture on its own. We used to have only three channels and our own stars and characteristic favorite programs. Now over half of the people in Venezuela have cable and Intercable, the main cable company of this country, has about 5 channels that show only US-made sitcoms but no Euro-centric channel. They used to have but it's a bit of a Hobson's Choice. People are grown fond to watch a Rob Schneider movie in ten different channels.

yttar
08-01-2012, 05:57 PM
Maiko are Geisha in training... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geisha (Supported by Lisa Dalby, Geisha and further by Kimono)

Sorry. I was just basing it off what my Japanese students told me. When I was asking a couple of my students about their trip to Kyoto and asked if they saw and/or dressed up as geisha while they were there, they told me they didn't use the term geisha, but maiko-san instead.

Yttar

Yorkist
08-02-2012, 02:06 AM
FWIW, as a reader, I totally want to read all the books y'all have mentioned in this thread. I won't pretend to be as affected by these issues as y'all are, but as a reader, I don't have much interest in reading yet more fantasy about white dudes with swords, or yet more historical fiction about white dudes with guns, or western women adoption stories, or more white savior stories (please do not get me started on Avatar), or whatever. That crap is boring.

I have zero interest in reading minority pathology porn (nice, Kitty) or insisting that the characters in all the books I read mirror my white appearance (I don't even understand this?) - I do have a slight bias towards female characters, but... *sigh* Before I came to AW I didn't know, on a conscious level, that problems like this existed (due to my privileges), and that I'd been trained by the publishing industry to interpret marketing signals that cater around racism/western bias and that I actually don't respond to as a reader. (Rachel, marketing signals definitely self-perpetuate - for example, "The ____'s Wife," "The ____'s Daughter" - that's at least forty years old.) So I'm not getting ahold of those books, and that's irritating - to me, anyway - both for the selfish reason that that's one less awesome book I get to read, and because that's one lost sale for those authors and their publishers.

For instance, I've recently gotten into Octavia Butler (Parable of the Sower = favorite book of the year), but due to the marketing for the newer editions of her books, if I'd just been wandering around the bookstore, I would've had no ideathat she'd catapult instantly to my top 10 favorite writers of all time list - because some of those covers have marketing signals that suggest "minority pathology porn" or "erotica/romance" (in spite of the fact that the books aren't either of those), and I have zero interest in either. (No offense to erotica or romance authors - I'm just not the audience for it.)

Some newer editions of Ursula le Guin's novels have whitewashed covers, too. Grrr. FWIW, I found some of those in the discount bin the other day, so the whitewashing may not be working - is that a good sign?

Some of my favorite authors are Lisa See, Amy Tan, Chinua Achebe, Alma Alexander, Octavia Butler... when I was a kidlet and reading the American Girl books or whathaveyou, I was seeking out stories about Jewish girls in New York, not other white girls in the American South, and I dunno, I'm just puzzled and annoyed by this cultural tendency.

Anyway, sorry for the rambling, but FWIW, I'm not just cheerleading - I totally want to read fantasy based on African, African-American, and Caribbean cultures - I like medieval Europe as much as anyone *glances at avatar*, but it's fantasy, hello (and where's my epic fantasy based on the medieval Malinese empire? I want it now) - and about chicks kicking ass and taking names in historical Korea. And I'm really irritated by the current state of the publishing industry and its marketing, because it sucks.

Please write these books, y'all.

kuwisdelu
08-02-2012, 02:46 AM
I'm a little puzzled about the desire for more fiction about "everyday life" from other cultures. When I think of American fiction, the vast majority of it...isn't about everyday life. It doesn't strike me as very surprising that a culture's own most popular entertainments and what it exports doesn't reflect everyday life in it. After all, most Americans aren't living cop dramas, and our reality shows surely don't resemble reality.

I can't really think of any popular Japanese media that is simultaneously about "everyday life" and yet is much more popular there than here. I can think of a lot of Japanese fiction that is much weirder than what gets exported, though.

I totally get not wanting more minority pathology porn or "issues" books, but I don't quite get the "everyday life" thing. Just want a documentary? Or the news?


You know, speaking of "Melting Pot", this touches something that bugs me of Globalization. People tend to look at it and say that's good because it's egalitarian: Now all cultures can share their own elements to the rest, but the truth is that it's not egalitarian at all.

Yes, it's true, we are more aware than ever of the work of other culture around the world, but you see US and Europe still being the axis of enterteinment, along with sciences and art. This is unavoidable, but doesn't stop feeling wrong. It feels than in order, for example, of Japanese, Chinese or Korean productions (books, movies, etc.) to arrive to Latin America, they have first to pass through the Euro-American filter.

In the Venezuelan case, I feel things too polarizing. You either have people on one side saying one must defend the flag, the cross, the hero worship to 19th century generals, the cockfights and rodeos and swear that our culture has no defects except the treats from the outside world and the other side saying our culture is just the third-world leftover of a civilization barely bordering on barbarism and that we should imitate Americans or Spaniards or the French and so on... both sides have a point and both sides are wrong, obviously.

What I see, though, is that Venezuela is slowly stopping to have a pop culture on its own. We used to have only three channels and our own stars and characteristic favorite programs. Now over half of the people in Venezuela have cable and Intercable, the main cable company of this country, has about 5 channels that show only US-made sitcoms but no Euro-centric channel. They used to have but it's a bit of a Hobson's Choice. People are grown fond to watch a Rob Schneider movie in ten different channels.

I'm beginning to think the Takugawa shogunate had it right.

maxmordon
08-02-2012, 07:36 AM
Exoticism can also happen with American culture, though. I remember I used to ask my dad all kinds of silly questions about the US which boiled down if the entire nation was like Seinfeld, Friends, and The Simpsons.

Kuwi, I think it's more a thing about expectation. I remember a quote by Borges about camels and the Qu'ran, saying about Westerners feeling that the Qu'ran wasn't truly Arabic because it didn't have a single camel in it. People expect unusual science fiction and fantasy from Japan, social or magical realism from Latin America, weird and witty fantasy and mystery novels from the UK and so on.

kuwisdelu
08-02-2012, 08:07 AM
Exoticism can also happen with American culture, though. I remember I used to ask my dad all kinds of silly questions about the US which boiled down if the entire nation was like Seinfeld, Friends, and The Simpsons.

It is.

Yorkist
08-02-2012, 08:07 AM
I'm a little puzzled about the desire for more fiction about "everyday life" from other cultures. When I think of American fiction, the vast majority of it...isn't about everyday life. It doesn't strike me as very surprising that a culture's own most popular entertainments and what it exports doesn't reflect everyday life in it.

I don't disagree, but mainstream/contemporary has a lot of fairly ordinary people living... well, not everyday life, but drama, comedy, and dramedy. Considering how well those sell, I have no idea why they don't make it to the U.S. very often, or why they receive very little attention when they do. A film example: pretty much every western person who isn't a hermit has heard of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but few have heard of The Road Home (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0235060/). Why? It's not like the average American or European has to work very hard to relate - it's about families and love.

I don't know if this is directly related to what Rachel and Aruna refer to, but I don't care for this western tendency for the commodification of culture - or is it commodotization of culture? - in fiction. We've come a long way since Conrad, Kipling, and Thackeray.

kuwisdelu
08-02-2012, 08:19 AM
I don't disagree, but mainstream/contemporary has a lot of fairly ordinary people living... well, not everyday life, but drama, comedy, and dramedy. Considering how well those sell, I have no idea why they don't make it to the U.S. very often, or why they receive very little attention when they do. A film example: pretty much every western person who isn't a hermit has heard of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but few have heard of The Road Home (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0235060/). Why? It's not like the average American or European has to work very hard to relate - it's about families and love.

Ah, certainly. When I hear "everyday life," I think of slice-of-life, which Japan certainly has plenty of, but which I don't think would succeed in the West for reasons totally unrelated to race (but certainly related to culture). If we're talking drama, rom com, and that kind of stuff, sure. I can get behind that. Though I just started watching some Japanese drama (after years of being an anime fan) and I have to say, even it was a bit weirder than American dramas.

aruna
08-02-2012, 08:46 AM
I'm a little puzzled about the desire for more fiction about "everyday life" from other cultures. When I think of American fiction, the vast majority of it...isn't about everyday life. It doesn't strike me as very surprising that a culture's own most popular entertainments and what it exports doesn't reflect everyday life in it. After all, most Americans aren't living cop dramas, and our reality shows surely don't resemble reality.

.


Actually, I disgree. A lot of, if not most, general or mainstream US/UK fiction is about everyday dramas of everyday people, starting with Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and the rest, right up to Jonathan Franzen or Kate Atkinson in our own day and age. I guess we see what we read -- since I don't read much cop dramas, horror, or SF, I'm mostly aware of that everyday kind of book. I see them everywhere. I believe they are the mainstay of US and European fiction.

Books like Family Matters (caring for a father with Parkinsons Disease, set in Mumbai), A Suitable Boy (Looking for a husband, also Mumbai), Purple Hibiscus (domestic abuse, Nigeria)-- those are the books, set in other cultures, I would seek out to read. And they are few and far between. They are also what I write. The background of the story micht be the highly explosive matters of post-slavery mutiny, race riots and so on, but that actual story, the protagonists, are very ordinary people living in an extraordinary time. They are not kick-ass heroines beating up the bad boys or cops out to save the day. They are just people, like you and me, with a good story to their lives. Just that that story is not set in New York or London!

frimble3
08-02-2012, 09:19 AM
E-books would be one way to open this up. Yes, the translations would be an additional expense (I've no idea what a good translation would cost) but at least there wouldn't be the problem of shipping hard-copies around the world, and trying to gauge sales across various English-speaking countries.
And, it might open up whole new markets, especially if they start with thinks like 'Coffee Prince' that is apparently popular on international TV, so there's an audience to start with.

kuwisdelu
08-02-2012, 09:31 AM
Actually, I disgree. A lot of, if not most, general or mainstream US/UK fiction is about everyday dramas of everyday people, starting with Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and the rest, right up to Jonathan Franzen or Kate Atkinson in our own day and age. I guess we see what we read -- since I don't read much cop dramas, horror, or SF, I'm mostly aware of that everyday kind of book. I see them everywhere. I believe they are the mainstay of US and European fiction.

Books like Family Matters (caring for a father with Parkinsons Disease, set in Mumbai), A Suitable Boy (Looking for a husband, also Mumbai), Purple Hibiscus (domestic abuse, Nigeria)-- those are the books, set in other cultures, I would seek out to read. And they are few and far between. They are also what I write. The background of the story micht be the highly explosive matters of post-slavery mutiny, race riots and so on, but that actual story, the protagonists, are very ordinary people living in an extraordinary time. They are not kick-ass heroines beating up the bad boys or cops out to save the day. They are just people, like you and me, with a good story to their lives. Just that that story is not set in New York or London!

Ehh, I still have to disagree again. I mostly read literary fiction. Not sci-fi and fantasy or horror, either. The vast majority of Western fiction as I see it still doesn't reflect "average" or "usual" life. When I think about those words used to described fiction, I tend to think of slice-of-life, which I enjoy myself, but isn't a genre that gets much love in the West, because it just isn't very interesting to most people. Our ordinary dramas, romantic comedies, and such may be realistic, but they're still not very "usual." I don't really think stories like what Dickens or Austen wrote reflected the "average," everyday life of the ordinary European. Realistic? Certainly. But not very average or usual.

You even use the phrase "ordinary people living in an extraordinary time." That's very different from ordinary people living in an ordinary time doing ordinary things.

And I think all of that's fine. Most fiction tends to exaggerate to create tension and conflict. Maybe I misinterpreted what was meant by "average" and "usual." Maybe your everyday life is interesting enough to write a novel about it. Mine certainly isn't.

Medievalist
08-02-2012, 09:40 AM
Here's a thought.

Why not learn to read the language the books are originally written in?

It's not that hard to learn to read another language. It really isn't.

kuwisdelu
08-02-2012, 09:42 AM
And maybe it's just me, but I have trouble looking at other people's lives even in my own community and thinking they're just like me. I can't even do that with my own family. I have a hard time seeing how someone's life could be just like mine in a completely different country and culture. Certain experiences and emotions? Absolutely! But those things should get across regardless of how realistic the story is. I read stories for that kind of connection, and most of "average," daily life has absolutely nothing to do with that. Do people really need that anchor of familiarity to relate to people from other cultures? Maybe they do, but I can't quite relate. And on the other hand, I could also be totally misunderstanding what everyone meant.

kuwisdelu
08-02-2012, 09:43 AM
Here's a thought.

Why not learn to read the language the books are originally written in?

It's not that hard to learn to read another language. It really isn't.

I know you mean well, and I actually agree with you, but as someone struggling with kanji vocab right this very moment, I want to poke you in the eye. :D :tongue

maxmordon
08-02-2012, 10:13 AM
Here's a thought.

Why not learn to read the language the books are originally written in?

It's not that hard to learn to read another language. It really isn't.

In today's world. A second, and even a third language is a must.

Still, translations hold little funny treasures on how silly they can be. I shall never forget my copy of Scott Fitzgerald's El Gran Catsby whereas Tom Buchanan disdained Catsby's intestines. :D

aruna
08-02-2012, 04:30 PM
You even use the phrase "ordinary people living in an extraordinary time." That's very different from ordinary people living in an ordinary time doing ordinary things.

And I think all of that's fine. Most fiction tends to exaggerate to create tension and conflict. Maybe I misinterpreted what was meant by "average" and "usual." Maybe your everyday life is interesting enough to write a novel about it. Mine certainly isn't.

Well, we do have different definitions of ordinary, then. When I say it, I mean without any supernatural elements, without murder and horrendous crime -- but lots and lots of drama of the ordiary kind: love, and falling into and out of it; marriage; divorce; travel; families, illness; death.

And actually, there really are about four different novels in my 60 years on this earth... I'm lucky to have lived through some truly extraodinary times, and to have had some fairly out-of-the-ordinary escapades -- yet I would still describe myself as "ordinary".

OTOH: Extraordinary, to me, are characters who -- well, who may have dealt with vampires, or had their skins stripped off them in tiny slivers while alive, or were CEO of a billion-doller enterprise -- that sort of thing. For me, anyone who isn't famous is ordinary, no matter what adventures they get up to. ANd I think that is what the bulk of general fiction is about.

Slice-of-life, stream-of-consciousness, books where absolutely NOTHING happens? Nah. Not for me, and I think those are truly a tiny minority.

Kitty27
08-02-2012, 08:12 PM
Here's a thought.

Why not learn to read the language the books are originally written in?

It's not that hard to learn to read another language. It really isn't.


My daughter and I are studying Portuguese. She's become obsessed with it. My poor and elderly brain is doing the best it can.

dolores haze
08-02-2012, 08:38 PM
Aruna mentioned Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy. Seth's a pretty interesting character. Indian, but writes in English (and has come in for quite a bit of criticism for it in India, I believe) and of the five things I've read by him four were all set in different cultures: Mumbai, San Francisco, Europe and Ancient Greece. The fifth was a piece of travel writing in which he's not terribly familiar with the culture, so he writes about it as an outsider, which is typical for travel writing.

Medievalist
08-02-2012, 09:43 PM
My daughter and I are studying Portuguese. She's become obsessed with it. My poor and elderly brain is doing the best it can.

Good for you!

For me, Luís Vaz de Camões Os Lusíadas sonnet cycle is reason enough to want to learn Portuguese.

Rachel Udin
08-02-2012, 09:56 PM
I'm a little puzzled about the desire for more fiction about "everyday life" from other cultures. When I think of American fiction, the vast majority of it...isn't about everyday life. It doesn't strike me as very surprising that a culture's own most popular entertainments and what it exports doesn't reflect everyday life in it. After all, most Americans aren't living cop dramas, and our reality shows surely don't resemble reality.

I can't really think of any popular Japanese media that is simultaneously about "everyday life" and yet is much more popular there than here. I can think of a lot of Japanese fiction that is much weirder than what gets exported, though.

I totally get not wanting more minority pathology porn or "issues" books, but I don't quite get the "everyday life" thing. Just want a documentary? Or the news?



I'm beginning to think the Takugawa shogunate had it right.
BTW, Tokugawa. Just saying. Probably typo... just for everyone else's edification in case they want to look it up.

Every day life means without the supernatural elements or making a culture exotic to another culture's norms. Or also known in anthropology as Ethnocentricism. (A form of it.) And I won't deny that the reverse isn't true, that Japan doesn't do the same to others--like the whole bit about African Americans being drawn F*ed up. Or how all of the Americans are drawn kinpatsu (blonde) until recently. (OMG there are blacks there.) Don't mean we can't make efforts to do better as well on our side.

So ordinary stories... excuse me while I start to list Japanese dramas as examples. And not all are Slice of Life. Slice of Life can have super natural elements, as was discussed, 1Q84 is Science Fiction slice of life and was on the bestseller list. Slice of life in the US tends not to be as good, but that's more opinion than fetishism on my part and I have a long and boring justification for it. Also, excuse me for the lack of books, as discussed earlier, it's really hard to find good books. (The closest I can get is Secret Life of Mariko... but that wasn't fiction. I want fiction too~ Also, I secretly think it got published because it was a white woman writing that book...)

The list.

Hotaru no Hikari (one of my favorites of all time)
NOT slice of life. It doesn't have that pacing. It's funny as hell and many women relate to the drama. Buchou~~~

Zenkai Girl
Does have the weird bubble life that Japanese dramas do... but certainly not slice of life. No super natural elements, and BTW, the girl kicks butt. (I mean in terms of mental capacity and ability to relate to the character)

Reset
While the premise is Sci-fi, the actual core stories aren't Sci-fi. This is a mind screw if I've ever seen one. Severe bubble universe.

Code Blue--life in a hospital. Factually errors, but still gets people in the heart. Not slice of life since it hangs on suspense. Also not too girly, for the guys out there that want to explore.

Binbo Danshi
A bit of a bubble world, no sci-fi/fantasy. No samurai. One Yakuza, but it's not the point of the story. It's touching. It's WAFF. (Warm and fuzzy feelings)

Rebound
OMG, I love this drama since it's the first drama ever that has a POSITIVE look at the problems with images of women in the media. I mean that in the US and in all other countries with a friggin' fat suit. I've watched them all. Either they have plastic surgery to them and end up celebrating that in odd ways, or try to put it from a male POV, which makes me oddly sick... this one skips all of that and is feminist without the soapbox. And people say Japan is backwards on women's issues. Plus they don't take the fat suit lightly. Funny, but without expense to those who are overweight. <3<3

Change
About an ordinary man who becomes Prime Minister. Much of the work is NOT slice of life, but political suspense. It's an easy ride. Bubble world isn't that severe either.

Locked Room Mystery
Mystery. No samurai. One episode with a yakuza, but done more for laughs. Severe bubble world in some cases. Love the musical cues. It's very off-beat in some ways, but it's fun since it doesn't take itself seriously.

Kimi wa Petto
Severe bubble world. A bit slice of life. A bit off-kilter, but I kinda like it for those things. No gangsters, samurai or other things like that. The severe bubble world comes from the plotline.

Sasaki Fusai no Jingi Naki Tatakai
Kinda bubble world, but uses it to make commentary on women and men relations by placing it on a hyperbole level. No yakuza at all. Set in modern era.

Do you need more? I got a ton. I have keiji dramas, I have tantei dramas. I have a ton.


Ehh, I still have to disagree again. I mostly read literary fiction. Not sci-fi and fantasy or horror, either. The vast majority of Western fiction as I see it still doesn't reflect "average" or "usual" life. When I think about those words used to described fiction, I tend to think of slice-of-life, which I enjoy myself, but isn't a genre that gets much love in the West, because it just isn't very interesting to most people. Our ordinary dramas, romantic comedies, and such may be realistic, but they're still not very "usual." I don't really think stories like what Dickens or Austen wrote reflected the "average," everyday life of the ordinary European. Realistic? Certainly. But not very average or usual.


The New Yorker. Literary Magazine with lots of ordinary happenings. They have a free podcast.

Friends on TV. Was exported, though the huge apartments raised my eyebrows really high. All white main cast, living in NYC.

*Gag me* The extremely white in NYC and rich beyond belief yuppy show Sex in the City. OK, maybe it *wasn't* realistic because of those things. (And no, it's NOT feminist. And probably not for the reasons you think I would chase after it for, like being feminine.) Was popular enough to get exported.

Seinfeld. (All main cast was white again.) The premise of the show was ordinary things that irk you. That's pretty close to slice of life description. Only they played it for humor. Also got exported.

Devil Wears Prada. Was based on a real story according to the author.

Pursuit of Happyness--though based on a real story, I wonder if the publisher would have bought the sequel where he's successful and not poor.

And though I hate their guts at times... try watching *gag me* Lifetime movies. Though their version of feminism really makes me sick. But that's a rant for another day.

Hallmark Channel crap too. (Mostly white people all the time... and horrid stories, but still every day life problems)

And if you haven't subjected yourself to it, there is always TNT which runs a marathon of 7 degrees of Kevin Bacon, if USA channel isn't running it at the same time. Has every day life stories.

Try to name every day life stories for minorities, and it come up very thin in comparison--good to crappy isn't a range it's pure numbers.


Here's a thought.

Why not learn to read the language the books are originally written in?

It's not that hard to learn to read another language. It really isn't.

Because as much as I like worldwide languages, and as much as I can speak English, French, Japanese, Korean, and a bit of Mandarin, though poorly. There are by count 3,000 to 8,000 languages in the world. http://www.ling.gu.se/projekt/sprakfrageladan/english/sprakfakta/eng-sprak-i-varlden.html

It took me three years to get anywhere decent at French. Because I learned Korean and Japanese at the same time almost... (despite protests) I still have trouble separating them at times. And Mandarin, I think I'm hopeless at.

To speak a language properly you need to learn the culture, find native speakers, and so on.

While not all languages have books that are written those 3,000-8,000 languages (Not including the dead languages like Latin, Prakrit, Sanskrit, etc), I still can want to learn about all the cultures from those languages. If there are people who know those languages, give me a short cut.

I'm hopeless at isolating languages--I want to try a polysynthetic language too. But I can either study 3,000 languages for a lifetime or read fiction from the world and see it that way. Give me the translation.

Also, as highlighted, a young kid won't always have the resources to say, learn Afrikaans. Why should they have to wait until adulthood to learn about South Africa?

(I will save the whole rant about languages available at University level too. Put short: It's limited. You won't get 8,000 languages taught at a university.)


Well, we do have different definitions of ordinary, then. When I say it, I mean without any supernatural elements, without murder and horrendous crime -- but lots and lots of drama of the ordiary kind: love, and falling into and out of it; marriage; divorce; travel; families, illness; death.

And actually, there really are about four different novels in my 60 years on this earth... I'm lucky to have lived through some truly extraodinary times, and to have had some fairly out-of-the-ordinary escapades -- yet I would still describe myself as "ordinary".

OTOH: Extraordinary, to me, are characters who -- well, who may have dealt with vampires, or had their skins stripped off them in tiny slivers while alive, or were CEO of a billion-doller enterprise -- that sort of thing. For me, anyone who isn't famous is ordinary, no matter what adventures they get up to. ANd I think that is what the bulk of general fiction is about.

Slice-of-life, stream-of-consciousness, books where absolutely NOTHING happens? Nah. Not for me, and I think those are truly a tiny minority.

This.

I present Hotaru no Hikari for this. Love story through and through. It has that veneer of fantasy that comes with romance... but at the core is still about people.

And I'll say it again, Coffee Prince. The Book. The book is made of awesome and I only read the summary of events by chapter. Ending makes my day. Isn't Slice of Life. (I do admit the QUILTBAG issues raised in it kind of make me on edge... but shows Korea is getting a bit closer... and some of the statements in Personal Preference, despite the shaky premise make my day on that area, making up for the deficit.) *shrugs* the fiction in this case is ahead of the society... but that's to be expected.

SophiaDreith
08-07-2012, 01:26 PM
Here's a thought.

Why not learn to read the language the books are originally written in?

It's not that hard to learn to read another language. It really isn't.

I think this would be correct for latin based languages if you already speak a latin based language but for someone going from a LB language to say Japanese or Mandarin, not only do you need to be able to identify the characters but they aren't phonetic so you can not associate a character with a specific sound and you need to know what the word itself is translated to.

The OP is Korean and that is honestly the best of the Asian languages to learn, IMO. I didn't find it all that dissimilar to English and their alphabet(Hangul) is phonetic with only 24 consonants and vowels. It's also a beautifully spoken language, IMO. The story I am currently working on, Collapse, stars a Korean man and I do try to work in some references to the culture and language into the story.

I think more will come out of Korea as the Hallyu wave continues, that is the exchange going on, where Korean music, tv, and culture is being spread through Asia and into Europe right now. Korea's most popular boy band won the 2011 Best World Stage at the MTV European Music awards beating out every other act(including Americans such as Britany Spears).

I'm a white chick from Texas but after a friend of mine(also white) introduced me to Korean Dramas, I was totally hooked. I liked Coffee Prince as was referenced by others but my favorite is Protect the Boss (http://www.dramafever.com/drama/3988/1/Protect_the_Boss/?ap=1). My friends and I all watch that show at least once a year.

Rachel Udin
08-07-2012, 07:21 PM
I think this would be correct for latin based languages if you already speak a latin based language but for someone going from a LB language to say Japanese or Mandarin, not only do you need to be able to identify the characters but they aren't phonetic so you can not associate a character with a specific sound and you need to know what the word itself is translated to.

Slight correction: The syllabary of Japanese known as kana are phonetic. It's just two at a time with two systems used for different things.

Also Chinese writing, often has cues on how to pronounce them internally with the radicals. It's just damned hard for me to remember what cues they are. I haven't gotten deep enough into the ideograph system to learn all of it.

Hangeul, though, is pretty easy. King Sejong was one awesome dude. In some ways it makes more sense to me than English since it's a one for one with very few exceptions. Grammar from a Latinate language, though is hard for most people because it's agglutinating rather than isolating. Japanese and Korean are closer together. Grammar-wise Chinese probably is much easier than Korean for someone from a Latinate group language. (Also no conjugation!)

Even so, I'd like to read WORLD fiction too. Not just from Jewish lore or Korean lore or Russian lore or Hungarian lore... but from the world and outside of myself. Because the world is that awesome and I want to learn about it.

aruna
08-07-2012, 07:55 PM
I've been fluent in French, Spanish and German in my day, though French and Spanish are too distant to be fluent any more. But in a recent trip to Italy I was dleighted to find out how much I understood. I could easily learn Italian and Potuguese, I think, if I out my mind to it, and in fact may very well take an Italian course soon. I've read the literature of all these lnaguages in the original: Moliere, Camus, Cervantes -- as I took them for A Levels. And of course lots of German books.

The languages I'd most love to learn are Hindi, Tamil and Sanskrit. I may do so when I retire: specifically to read certain books.