Are writers of colour being pushed to the margins?

Mainstream publications, like the New York Times Book Review, are still the kingmakers of the literary world. (Roey Ahram/Flickr)

Mainstream publications, like the New York Times Book Review, are still the kingmakers of the literary world. (Roey Ahram/Flickr)

Listen

Author and teacher Aimee Phan joins Jian to explain how she believes mainstream media, publishers and reviewers are failing writers of colour. Phan argues that certain voices and vantage points are being systematically pushed out of the cultural conversation.

Phan notes that work by writers of colour is, by and large, ignored by mainstream reviewers and critics -- and she cites some pretty startling numbers to back up her claim. For instance, between 2011 and 2012, just over 10 per cent of the books reviewed by the New York Times were by people of colour.

"The editors are the curators, they're the ones telling the readers what to read and right now writers of colour aren't making that list," Phan explains. "These books will actually do wonders if you read them to clear up the misconceptions and give you a fuller, more vibrant picture of a community you may have dismissed before."


She also argues that political correctness and a hesitation to talk about race contribute to the bottleneck. Moreover, writers of certain backgrounds are often expected to write about their own communities, but are simultaneously told that their stories do not have mainstream appeal.

We're curious: Of the three books you've read most recently, how many were by authors of colour? Were those three writing through the lens of their own cultural experiences? Did you expect them to? Why or why not?

Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.