Sunday, February 17, 2013

Five Recommended Reads That Subvert Culture Tropes

Recommended by
the panel as an example
of "Culturewin"
As I mentioned in a previous post (Ten Ways to Help Avoid 'Culturefail' in Speculative Fiction), I attended a panel at Arisia about how to avoid "culturefail" when writing about cultures and peoples that are not one's own.

The panel suggested some similar features in novels that presented other cultures in interesting and authentic ways. - The books subverted common tropes and negative stereotypes.  They included confrontations with the difficult issues of power, privilege, and oppression.  They included characters in those cultures with their own plot arcs, friends, family, and context.

I asked each person on the panel to recommend a novel that, for them, was an example of "culturewin" - a story where a writer presents another culture with authenticity.  The following were books recommended (some with controversy) by panelists:

The Salt Roads by Nalo Hopkinson
Thirteen by Richard K. Morgan
My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk
Tropic of Night by Michael Gruber

A fifth book was mentioned, but I only caught the title, "Who Fears Death?"  I believe this is by Nnedi Okorafor. 

So now I have some new books to add to my reading lineup for the year!  Have you read one of these books?  What did you think?  Did you feel the books helped to break down old tropes and subvert them in unique ways?  Were these compelling reads for you?  What books would you suggest as "culturewin"?

1 comment:

Lucy said...

I still haven't read "My Name is Red" but it was part of a pretty good pbs series on world literature a couple of years ago which can still be watched:

Come to think of it, probably reading some world literature would also help in preparing to avoid culturefail.