Thursday, November 18, 2010

Colorful Brown Links

Color Me Brown is a weekly feature here at Color Online in which we highlight links that caught our eye about literature and/or race (preferably both). Sometimes, the links will be pop culture race based, sometimes purely literary based.

We can't be everywhere at once, so please leave a link to your own reviews/interviews/discussion posts/etc (or links to other posts you've found).

Two of my favorite bloggers (and writers!) Shveta Thakrar and Cindy Pon discuss writing across cultural lines at Writer Unboxed Here's a (rather lengthy) peek

Some of the beliefs or creatures our readers may wish to research and/or incorporate into their fiction are still part of living traditions and religions for other worlds. Can you give advice about balancing respect for another culture while possibly needing to adapt their stories for a particular manuscript?

ST: I’d say first and foremost, do your research. Start by familiarizing yourself with the traditions in question. For example, if a culture or group prefers their mythology not be used outside their traditions, really consider if it’s necessary to your story. (Of course, this won’t always be the case, but you can never go wrong being respectful.) Remember that none of this exists in a vacuum. If you then draw upon the folklore or mythology, remember you are borrowing, and act accordingly.

Sometimes you’ll have to adapt things to fit your story, and that’s fine; just make sure you know the source material, and then tread carefully. Think about what you want to change and why. Don’t take lazy shortcuts and portray all dark-skinned peoples/beings as evil, etc.; instead, create nuanced, complex worlds and characters that honor the original.

The main thing is to write with respect and remember that we’re all people, and all our stories matter. I can’t stress that enough.

CP: I think with using elements that are current religions and traditions, one needs to especially be careful about how they are portraying and interpreting the story. But the fact of the matter is, no matter how much research you do and how respectfully you handle a topic, character, etc, you will probably offend someone. And this isn’t just in regards to the topics at hand (which one can see as being more sensitive) but happens for all authors in general, no matter what we write.

My advice from my own lessons learned with my debut publication is to write and send into the world what you can stand by. Know in your heart that this is the best you did in all ways for your novel — that you can believe in it and back it. Because once it’s out there, you can’t control the reader’s reaction to your story. They will often interpret it in ways you never intended — and that’s why reading is so personal for everyone.

Barbara Binns (author of Pull, which was reviewed here) reviews All the Broken Pieces by Ann Burg

This book brought back the Viet Nam era in a way no other book I have ever read did for me. The wounded vets help Matt understand that his mother had to have loved him to give him away. His adopted father deals with guilt over his medical school deferment. And a schoolmate who hates Matt because "my brother died over there because of you," helps Matt overcome his own guilt over the accident that crippled the brother he had to leave behind.

This is more than a book for middle school and more than just a boy book.

Y.S. Lee talks about something that I think most of us have gotten frustrated over, being called 'exotic'

There’s a word that pops up with annoying frequency in conversations about people of colour. But despite its popularity, it never fails to surprise me: there I am, reading or chatting away, when – SQUERK! – it pokes me in the eye.

The dreaded word? “Exotic”.

I admit, it doesn’t seem that bad. It’s neither poisonous nor inherently racist. It’s slightly comic, because of the silly euphemism “exotic dancer”. And often, it’s meant as a compliment. But most of the time, its subtler meaning is anything but positive.

Heather raves about The Arrival by Shaun Tan, a wordless picture book that can be enjoyed by all.

Sad, and beautiful and it stays with you. The illustrations are so detailed and intricate, every confusion and trial he has to face is painfully drawn and you ache for him and feel joy with him as he navigates this new and foreign world.

Shaun Tan masterfully captures all of this by placing us in a world far removed from our own, complete with flying ships, towering (and beautifully elaborate) geometrical structures, and a language as foreign as anything you've ever seen. Without any words, we are placed in the same position as he is, and that confusion and that ache intensifies even more because you can feel you are him.

And the illustrations. This is a book to be read slowly

Children's author James Preller has put a call out for photos of fathers reading.

I’ve reached the conclusion that one of the most powerful, positive factors to encourage and inspire boys to read is, very simply, to see their fathers read. Look, there’s dad sitting down with a book. Any book. Fathers don’t just chop down trees, fix door jambs, and watch football. We read, too. It’s a valid male activity, like burping. Think of the power of that simple image. There’s Dad with a book in his lap

Preller put the call out Oct. 18. Recently, Preller told me (Doret) that photos are slowly coming in but there is little to no diversity. I love when diversity is sought out from jump. So please if you have any photos of fathers reading send them on, and spread the word. When is finally launched boys and girls of all nationalities will see men who look like them reading.

On October 29, a kickstarter campaign was launched to get author Tayari Jones novel, Leaving Atlanta made into a movie.

Friday, I had a wonderful conference call with Aletha Spann and Karon Om Vereen, the independent film makers behind the project. They have been working on this project more than five years and it has been inspiring to see the level of dedication they bring to the project. They have made great strides, but there is still a ways to go.

Of course the big-picture (pun intended) goal is to make a feature-length film, but for this fundraiser, we are seeking to raise enough money to shoot a trailer to show to investors. There is a teaser video up on the kickstarter so you can get a feel for the project.

The trailer is great. Sometime in the near future it will be up at Color Online. Anyone interested in making a pledge has until Dec 18th.

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