BETWEEN THE LINES

Writing across boundaries and out of our safe zones

October 17, 2012

Tags: race, stereotypes, borders

Although I’ve tackled this subject before, I keep returning to it, unsatisfied. It’s a hot-button issue and one that’s close to my writing heart. Because even after all the eloquent arguments around racial stereotyping in the novel THE HELP and recent discussion about Michael Chabon’s choice to write African American characters in TELEGRAPH AVENUE, readers and writers still ponder the politics and risks of writing POV characters whose skin color and experiences differ from the writer’s.

We’ve probably all participated in these conversations about cultural appropriation and trivializing stereotypes. What interests me most as a writer is the implicit criticism of the white author of THE HELP for even attempting to tell the story of the black maids – because how could she possibly know their hearts, how could she presume to speak their voice? I think one adjective used was “cringeworthy.” (more…)

Homage to book groups

October 8, 2012

Tags: book groups, House Arrest

You might think I’m nuts to travel 500 miles to attend a book group discussion, but that’s exactly what I did last week. My friend Rita invited me to join the book group she started eighteen years in the Society Hill/Queen Village/Bella Vista/Washington Square neighborhood of Philadelphia. They were discussing my novel, HOUSE ARREST. I said, “yes, of course. I’d love to.” (more…)