While talking about diversity in books, one thing I notice is how rare people mentioned about diverse authors. We see people want to see representation in books, but we rarely talked about people behind the book. Fortunately this issue is realized by many people and slowly but surely, this issue is being talked by everyone. I’m sure some of you must have heard about #ownvoices, and for those of you who haven’t, I’m going to discussed it in this post.
What is #ownvoices?
#ownvoices is a hashtag created by Otherbound author, Corinne Duyvis in September 2015, and it basically focuses on recommending/supporting books about marginalised groups written by authors from those books.
While there are a lot of new diverse books, most of the authors are still from outside those marginalised groups. And I think some of them don’t do enough research that resulted in problematic, wrong, and stereotypical potrayal instead of letting our stories heard. There are also authors that used diversity as if it is a check that needs to be crossed when writing a book. I mean, we readers, especially the ones from marginalised group, can see how much effort do you put in your research based on the book.
I’m not saying that authors shouldn’t write about other groups that they’re not part of, but we’ve seen how many authors are being attacked because they don’t give a good representation of the group they’re writing about. We want to see representation, so instead of bashing authors for giving wrong representation, why don’t we actually start to look for authors who are from those group? Obviously the authors that don’t do correct representation needs to be told of their mistakes, but let’s not bash them and try read some Own Voices books! They would give an authentic representation, because they’re writing from their own experience. I think good and in-depth research will never beat the knowledge and authenticity that comes from living the experience yourself.
Broaden your reading choices. Read from diverse authors, that comes from various countries, background, races, cultures, etc. You have no idea how helpful your read is. It could show that us, readers, would love to know more about those things, and it could bring various books from various country to the international market. It gives the chance for the authors to share their story, and for us to listen. Like an article from CNN said, Talking about diversity is one thing; doing something about it is another thing entirely. Don’t just wish for diversity in books, try to read from diverse authors and support the actual, real people. The simplest thing we as readers could do is read their stories that are written by their own people.
Now it’s time for recommendations. I feel sad because most of the time, the author from the dominant group write about the marginalised book and gets praises for it, while the author from that marginalised group’s book remain relatively unknown. So today I would recommend some books, based on popular diverse book with #ownvoices books.
- You’ve probably heard about Memoirs of Geisha by Arthur Golden. Try reading Geisha of Gion by Mineko Iwasaki
- We all know about Perfect Chemistry by Simon Elkeles, why don’t you read Aristotle and Dante and Esperanza Rising
- Love Cinder? Try reading The Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah. Also, it’s not a retelling, but it’s an autobiography.
- Do you love the Japanese aspect from Ink and Stormdancer? Go read The Clan Otori series by Lian Hearn
- Enjoy watching Arranged and Marriage at First Sight? You might change your mind after reading Written in Stars by Aisha Saeed.