“The next wave of crime fiction could help shape the public imagination of what a world where police weren’t in charge of public safety could look like.”
Historically, crime fiction has portrayed the police as heroes. But that vision of law enforcement is becoming hazier for the general public, and for most communities of color, it was never accurate at all.
The observance that crime fiction has contributed to a glorification of police and their policies is not new, but it is now particularly timely. Here Amy Suiter Clarke, author of the recently published novel Girl, 11, calls upon authors of mysteries and thrillers to write books that “imagine the world as it could be, not as it is.”
Mya Nunnally describes her work as a sensitivity reader: “I offer my thoughts on how writers portray characters who share my own lived experiences.”
The book industry’s endeavors to publish more diverse books means that many authors are incorporating into their books more characters that differ from themselves. Despite authors’ best efforts at research, “there’s a chance that they’ll miss something about the experience simply because they haven’t lived it themselves. When writing about experiences outside their own, I find that most authors simply don’t know what they don’t know. They aren’t familiar with damaging tropes, perhaps, or didn’t realize that what they wrote is tapping into a stereotype.”
Nunnally describes this work as “both rewarding and exhausting.” She convincingly documents the importance of such work and hopes that sensitivity readers “can become a commonplace component of the publishing industry.”
I loved Alex Michaelides’s debut novel The Silent Patient and was delighted to hear that that his second novel, The Maidens, will come out in June.
As the author’s name suggests, he grew up surrounded by Greek tragedies and mythology. I’m looking forward to reading his new novel, which he wrote during the COVID-19 lockdown: “There is nothing like being locked in your apartment to concentrate your mind!”
Last week’s links featured a piece about experimental fiction (though I prefer the term inventive fiction), and here’s another one. Author Rebecca Watson, author of little scratch, “recommends five of the best experimental novels and explains why a writer might choose to bend the rules—and to what effect.”
In little scratch, Watson attempts to demonstrate how the main character moves through an ordinary day interacting with the outside world while simultaneously carrying on an interior conversation with herself examining a trauma she’s concealing. She explains, “experimental writing needs an openness and willingness from a reader, to go beyond what you might be used to.” The whole purpose of this kind of writing, she says, “is to help immerse the reader further in the story.”
I see a lot of articles about how reading can make us better people by nurturing empathy and compassion, but sometimes all I secretly want is a good revenge story.
Jonas Jonasson, author of Sweet Sweet Revenge Ltd, offers some reading recommendations for satisfying that lust for revenge. He says “revenge works best as a form of self-therapy.”
Sonora Jha, author of “How to Raise a Feminist Son,” recommends fiction in which men grapple with gender expectations
“One big, yawning gap in literature and culture . . . is the tale of the man who encounters and overcomes his own male fragility and entitlement,” Sonora Jha writes. She offers a list of “seven novels and short stories in which we do encounter such men (and one teenaged boy).” The authors of these works “place their characters within the struggle and watch them squirm. Some of these characters make it to the other side and others don’t.”
© 2021 by Mary Daniels Brown