Everyone is talking about the next book by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Carrie Soto is back and some of this is general enthusiasm due to his popularity when writing daisy jones and the six Y The seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo (SHEH). However, much of the discussion has centered around what are seen as problematic trends in his novel regarding race and the fact that another white author continues to write about people of color (POC) while the publication remains very white. As 95% white as of 2020.
When this book was announced in February, Jesse (bow ties and books) expressed concern about the premise of this book. The novel sells like a Latina tennis champion, Carrie Soto, coming out of retirement when an up-and-coming British player, Nicki Chan, is set to break her record. Jesse pointed out how strange it was for a white actor to take on POC (in an overwhelmingly white sport), especially with a rise in anti-Asian bigotry and the persistent devaluation of certain individual achievements due to the Myth of the Model Minority. (Until recently, many, including Jesse, thought Soto was white or Asian, but still, the point remains since learning what is Argentine American.)
Several months later, Jesse elaborated on a video about problems in SHE and admitted they felt nervous calling the synopsis alone problematic. However, when rereading SHE after a bad time with The Mailbu UprisingThey noticed an alarming trend.
Now we have a pattern of how Talyor Jenkins Reid uses race in his novels… to make very specific points, and I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all. I find it worrying and troublesome.
Jesse emphasized that they weren’t criticizing to “drag” the author or the books, but that Reid needs to listen to the POC reviewers’ criticism so he doesn’t keep making the same mistakes. They referenced how JK Rowling received very little criticism from marginalized communities for years and how all the red flags were there before she became a full-fledged TERF.
I know I didn’t see any real criticism of JK Rowling’s handling of gender and race until someone I know from a different background read part of the book (and saw the movies) in her 30s. She pointed out things that didn’t feel right, and I remember gently brushing them off because it felt like an attack on my identity at the time.
Now, BookTok takes note
While Jesse has been thinking about this for a while, the fact that the book is coming out in just a few weeks means more people are talking about it and seeing issues too. Some of the highest profile Latino creators in BookTok (the reader’s side of tik tok) questioned why white authors continue to write about POC, but authors of color continue to be marginalized by all parts of publishing.
Bookseller and TikToker Adrian (aka bookdaddy) even compared the situation with the american dirt controversy of 2018. That book remains hugely popular both in library circulation and in stores, if not as much online. Later, he followed up with a passage from Julissa Arce’s ‘ you sound like a white girl Y noticed when white people write about POC and traumathey are the ones who write it for their white peers and drift into white saviorism.
One of the trendiest people on TikTok, let alone Booktok, Carmen (aka Textile and Volumes) did what he does best and took advantage of this moment to continue sharing books by Latino authors about Latinas in sports. She even broke it down by type and age group, but he still pointed out that it shouldn’t be that hard to find. Carmen didn’t even limit herself to tennis specifically.
Carmen did read it though, and once again raised the issues with the amount of resources being poured into white authors writing POC stories in our voices. She even pointed out how in a Bi.org Q&A 2017Reid acknowledges this problem, and yet has continued to occupy this space regardless.
“Damn if you do and damn if you don’t”
Another book reviewer and media critic, Marines (also known as my name is marines), also intervened. Before getting into her response, it’s important to note that she has been engaging in this intimidating minefield of broader demand for less exclusively white stories. Y the problems that often arise when white authors tell “diverse” stories. Talk to both readers and authors about this topic. Marines lists questions authors should ask themselves before undertaking stories including writing about their identity.
His most recent video elaborated on this once again and confronted the idea of a “slippery slope” for artists and even more so the false concept of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” These attitudes exist beyond publication, but she keeps it very clear and uses some important examples that everyone knows, regardless of the genre you read.
This ongoing frustration wouldn’t be much of a problem if the post was As minimum reflective of the population in general (of authors to the executives and publishers) and if POC authors weren’t locked in silos to write stories of struggle and face adversity, but that’s where we are.
(image: Ballantine Books)
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