Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Hidden Guidelines for Literary Fiction Written By African Americans

The site All About Romance had an interesting blog dealing with guide lines for literary fiction. Robin Uncapher suggested in her article that while everyone likes to pretend there is no formula for writing literary fiction, everyone who publishes literary fiction knows exactly what the rules are. Read the full article here

Black people and women of all colors please take note of Ms. Upcapher’s first rule of the literary fiction formula.

“If possible the book should be written by a man and have a male voice, a white male voice. Women and minorities will be published but with the exception of a few designated hitters, they will not be eligible for the big prizes and kudos. If the narrator is African American she should sound like one and, if possible, write something historical. Writing about slavery is good but anything set prior to 1950 is okay. For example, an AA female writer who wishes to write a book about a female black lawyer in Boston involved in a major civil suit, should make sure the suit has something to do with being African American. Otherwise, she should forget about literary fiction and write romance or Chick Lit. If a female author is white she should write the way John Updike would write if he were a woman.”

The truth is funny but it hurts. If you are black and writing literary fiction you have to be aware of what is driving agents and editors choices of your work. Think about this folks. Go to books stores and check what’s on the shelves in the African American section especially in the category of debut fiction. See for yourselves what narrow portions of the black experience is allowed to be published. What new literary fiction there is by African Americans, and there is not a whole lot of it, fits this hidden formula and it’s a darn shame. What to do about it? I really don’t know. The novelist Bernice McFadden put on her blog a fictitious letter from publishers. Read it here unfortunately it is the absolute truth.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

True Patriotism

On July 5, 1852, Douglass gave a speech at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, held at Rochester's Corinthian Hall. It was biting oratory, in which the speaker told his audience, "This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn." And he asked them, "Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day?"

Within the now-famous address is what historian Philip S. Foner has called "probably the most moving passage in all of Douglass' speeches."

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sound of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; your shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanks-givings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy -- a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

In his time Fredrick Douglas was often called unpatriotic. This man who worked hard to convince President Lincoln of the necessity of the Emancipation Proclamation. This parent who sent his own son off to a Civil War that gave no guarantee there would be freedom for African American slaves. This man who gave so much for so litttle respect in return during his life time was often considered unpatriotic.

So, This is what I will rembert this July 4th: Sometimes patriotism is being able to love your country so much that you know it is your sacred duty to point out it greatness flaws and faults so that things will be better in the future for everyone .

Happy Independence Day everyone.