May 24th, 2006 by ravi
Apropos to the Kaavya Affair

[A question to English usage types: is "Apropos of" or "Apropos to" the right usage in this title? My initial urge was "of" but on further thought I felt "to" is more apropos!]

I have already posted on the Kaavya Viswanathan affair (plagiarization by the young Indian-American author), though I did not quite articulate what it is that bothered me about her. Below is an article from the Guardian that describes the difficulty that minorities have in getting published. A comment towards the qend of the quoted text describes my uneasiness: that minority writers are further disadvantaged by those (otherwise privileged) who play upon their minority status to open doors. 

Guardian | Monica Ali and Zadie Smith are in the minority, finds survey
Michelle Pauli

Wednesday May 10, 2006

The book trade is missing a trick by ignoring the potential of the black and ethnic minority (BME) market, says a new report by the Bookseller and the Arts Council.

The Books for All survey of publishers, booksellers, agents and librarians found that a "fear factor" was holding back the book trade from pursuing a growing market and a huge potential source of writing talent.

[…]
While 7.9% of the UK's population is of ethnic minority origin, only 50 (1%) of this year's top 5,000 bestsellers are by BME writers, despite the high profile of award-winners Zadie Smith, Andrea Levy and Monica Ali.

[…]

The report is critical of the lack of monitoring that takes place in the publishing process, with 58% of publishers unsure whether the number of submissions received from BME authors has risen, fallen or stayed the same during the past year, but acknowledges that accusations of tokenism can also be damaging.

"There is obviously a wealth of excellent Asian writers out there," said Poorna Shetty, editor of Asiana magazine, "but, inevitably, there are some books that get published because of the ethnic tag, rather than because they're actually great books."

[…]

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One Response

  • Doyle Saylor says:

    I looked at the article. In my little niche, disability media there is a similar sort of marginalization.

    People get up in arms about disabled tokens who are craven ass kissers with no disabled voice but over all, it’s the lack of voice that really matters. What I mean is that the pain of having so much barriers to get across is the real source of pain. The parvenu who falsified their work often can’t be distinguished from the Andy Warhol who wallows in ‘bad’ art.

    I’ve run into amongst AA (African Americans) a certain amount of not wanting to ‘represent’ the race. They don’t want to be the role model. The resonates for me also. Failure is the artists ever present haint (spectral figure looming in the shadows). Some like myself see representation of the group as a very hard place to live one’s life. To calculate what would really be right as the norm creates a mask of false face for the world. See existentialism.

    Your concern of course is that representation is lacking. So you feel quite opposite me. There is no doubt a substantial racist component to the lack of representation. But the people who must break through are never up to standard. Their flaws are there always. It’s the readiness in my view to hold all the messy assemblage in ones arms. Weeping over the problems and pains and inhaling the fumes of the process to extrude like magma from the earth to fill in the gaps. That’s what creates art.
    thanks,
    Doyle

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