Writers blocked: Even fantasy fiction is now offensive – The Spectator Online…

Persecution is endemic in the vicious world of Young Adult publishing

It was Lionel Shriver who saw the writing on the wall.

Giving a keynote speech at the Brisbane Writers Festival three years ago in which she decried the scourge of modern identity politics, Shriver observed that the dogma of ‘cultural appropriation’ —which demands no less than complete racial segregation in the arts — had not yet wrapped its osseous fingers around the publishing industry.

But, she warned: ‘This same sensibility is coming to a bookstore near you.’

Reader, it has come.

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39 thoughts on “Writers blocked: Even fantasy fiction is now offensive – The Spectator Online…

  1. Oh, Chris, this argument gets me so hot under the collar I’m blowing steam. It is fantasy, do these people even know the meaning of the word? You make it up, the worlds exist in your imagination, not in the real world. In my Wisp novels, a thread of natives being abused by the people who come into their world runs through it. If anyone accuses me of being culturally wrong or racist I will stick up for my writing and ask them if they want to take a look inside my head and see what my “imagination” wants to say to them. Yes, racism is wrong in any place and time but, if they continue down this road, no one will speak, or write, or paint, or make music and we will all wear shades of grey. (no pun intended)

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I came across an interesting article in The Irish Times, which expresses a different perspective to that of the spectator. Its worth a read and can be found here, https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/don-t-dip-your-pen-in-someone-else-s-blood-writers-and-the-other-1.3533819. I don’t agree with the author’s premise (as I think that excercising the kind of extreme caution advocated by her would lead to very few people not of the group about whom they are writing daring to put pen to paper. In addition I am wary of the perspective that just because a thing is “offensive” to some, one should not write about it). Nonetheless its an interesting perspective. One final point. There are many self-appointed spokesmen for particular groups, claiming to speak on behalf of women, people with disabilities, black people etc but, dare one say it some of these self-appointed spokesmen represent only themselves and it is them who are getting their underware in a twist, rather than the majority of the group on behalf of whom the spokesman is (supposedly) expressing offense.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. So many points here, Chris, but a lot of the abuse received was just humanity at its worst – people looking for reasons to be offended and then gleefully taking offence when they found them.

    That said, it is certainly true that the writer is wise to ensure they know what they are talking about. There is never any satisfactory substitute for writing about what you actually know. In my case, I set my first novel in rural India, because I had a long sojourn there and wrote almost exclusively about either what I had seen and experienced, or what I had heard at first hand from locals. And then spent a lot of time checking facts and opinions, and ensuring that at least one of my beta-readers was an Indian with experience of those places and similar events and people.

    And then I think that if you are confident in what you write, it is important to stand your ground, unpleasant though that might be.

    Liked by 4 people

      • No, I’ve been fortunate in only attracting good reviews. I knew I was leaving myself open to criticism by writing in the first person as a rural Indian woman (since I am a white Englishman!) but have even been praised by Indian women for writing accurately and believably.

        Liked by 3 people

        • Its great that you had such positive feedback, particularly from Indian Women, Mick. I sometimes wonder where a writer (say, for the sake of argument a white middle-class Oxbridge graduate) to pen a novel (without revealing their identity), about the lives of black children, and where that novel to receive plaudits from critics of all races, whether the positive reviews would miraculously morph into negative ones where the author suddenly to reveal himself as a white, Oxbridge graduate.

          On 5/24/19, Chris The Story Reading Ape’s Blog

          Liked by 3 people

          • Yes, that thought has occurred to me, too. And my conclusion was that they would be wise not to reveal their identity for some while, so that it would be very difficult for anyone to then backtrack on what they’d said.

            Liked by 3 people

          • I know this thread is a few days old, now, but I wanted to add one last thought, and that is I feel those people who seem to deliberately take offence at these things we’ve been talking about are doing a very real disservice to causes they presumably care about. It’s the equivalent of crying wolf, and in the long run it will dilute any valid criticism of real injustices.

            Liked by 3 people


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