Monday, May 31, 2010

Anansi Boys

Back in 2007, I read Anansi Boys for a NPR book club. It is now one of the only books that I don't own by Neil Gaiman. Why? I am waiting to meet him so I can have him sign it and I can tell him how great it was, and to remind him that I was lucky enough to ask him a question on that very NPR radio show.

One of the topics that came up during the book club discussion was race. Throughout the book, you could get a sense of the race of the characters, but then we weren't sure if it wasn't told to us. In a lot of books we read, the default race is white. However, when you read Anansi Boys, the default race is black.

As I read the book, I had to remind myself when picturing the characters that they weren't white. It is hard for me to admit this, but it is true. Why does my mind automatically assume when I meet a new character that they are white unless otherwise indicated by their name, description, or origin? It made me realize that maybe I need to expand what I read, or is it that I am not finding more books like this to read? And why? (Keep in mind, too, that I read a lot of MG/YA genre books).

This thought process led to another reason why I felt KIN needed to be written. And, also, that publishing companies like Tu Books needs to be created. We need to offer diversity to readers. My hope is we don't need to go out of our way to encourage this writing, and that it will just exist someday for my own children (who won't be white) to read.

List of recommended books:

And, of course, Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys. Don't forget to learn more about Anansi stories, either.




  1. I just read a piece specifically addressing reading and writing lit from diverse backgrounds!.

    I don't think you should feel guilty about utilizing your personality in your reading. It's natural to read a character from your own perspective. It also feels great to realize that a character is really different from you and that maybe there are things that you won't understand about him or her. It's empowering to know how radically different we people are, how diverse the world is and how many kinds of things we can really factually learn from one another.

    I think also that we have a responsibility as introspective readers not to claim total ownership of experience based on reading. Walking a mile in another's shoes is pretty enlightening; it's not the same as walking in different skin, speaking a different language or living an entire life in a different culture.

    Thanks for being awesome and listening to me prattle on. Cheers.

  2. I am glad that you decided to prattle on here. Comments are good.

    I was thinking this morning that there wasn't enough women super heroes, and if there are any, people are completely thrown off or surprised. I mean, why is Wonder Woman keep getting pushed back!?! I guess when we think of a "hero", we are given the image of a white male. So I guess race isn't the only default in society, but will be interesting to see how that changes in the future.

    It is so strange how my mind defaults to that, as well, and how do we change this? Cover art? Clear distinct characters? Both?

    Thanks for commenting and listening to ME prattle on! If we ever have a singing group, we can be The Prattlers!



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