Saturday, August 01, 2009

Faith 'n Fiction Saturday



My Friend Amy, who brought us Book Blogger Appreciation Week has a new carnival in the works, the Faith 'n Fiction Saturday.

Each week she will post a blogging prompt, which participating bloggers will answer on their own blogs. Then they head back to the original post and sign Mister Linky! This way we can all come to know each other more closely.

Today's Topic
Deborah (lol me!) often mentions the lack of diversity in Christian fiction, and I definitely think it's something we should talk about more as I observe that many Christians do not feel that Christian fiction represents their own Christian experience.

Do you think Christian fiction represents a diverse range of belief, Christian experience, skin color, and nationality? Have you ever read a book and realized you hadn't read anything quite like it in Christian fiction before? Have you ever wished an author would take a different point of view? Do you think that avid readers of Christian fiction are open to more diversity in Christian fiction? What are some stand-out examples of books that represent diversity in Christian fiction?

My Answer: Hah, well since Amy mentioned me in the question, I suppose I shall have to answer! But yes, I do feel that diversity in CF is severely lacking. While it has gotten better in recent years, I would bet that about 90% of the CF books are I read are about white females. One can argue that this is probably the target audience and that most of the authors (actually almost all of them) are white female. They will write what is familiar to them and to their audience. Still that doesn't really say much for those of us who are falling into that category. There are a lot more African American authors and AA fiction, which is great. However when it comes to other ethnicities, it's very downplayed. I think I've said it before, but it's worth mentioning again.

Except for a few books, including Camy Tang's Sushi series, almost every Christian fiction book I've read that features an Asian American character has them being 1) adopted into a white family or 2) being an immigrant or foregin exchange student that talks with a heavy accent. It seems that most writers cannot seem to write about an AA character that is neither, and that is acutally a homegrown US citizen that just happens to be Asian. One book I read recently had this horrible stereotype of a half Asian woman who throughout the whole book kept being described by her exotic looks and long dark hair, and acquired the nickname of "China Doll" from the male lead who liked her. On top of that she had a mother who, while born in the US and raised there, still managed somehow to have a Chinese accent. This really saddened me at how badly the stereotyped was used. And this was a book written in 2003!!!

Once agian this is mainly in adult fiction. In YA fiction, the authors there have seemed to figure out that diversity exists and many YA series invovlve a multi racial cast. While I enjoy Christian fiction, it's just getting extremely frustrating at the lack of books that feature a character I can really relate to. While once again, I can understand the main target audience are not 20 something Asian American females, I would like at least for authors to stop using predicatable stereotypes. I mean if you're going to use an Asian character, just make her US born, you don't have to say she has almond shaped eyes, or can cook a mean fried rice dish or knows how to speak Japanese.

Stand Out Books about Diversity in Christian Fiction:

The Sushi Series by Camy Tang
Zora and Nicky by Claudia Mair Burney
Shades of Style series by Marilynn Griffith
The Miracle Girls series by Anne Dayton and May Vanderbilt
All About Us series by Shelley Adina
The Yada Yada Prayer Group Series by Neta Jackson

4 comments:

  1. I agree with you Deborah. I have a book recommendation in my post

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  2. LOL! Today was for you baby. ;)

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  3. When The Winds of Sonoma came out in 2005 it was considered edgy because the hero was a Mexican who cleaned the stalls of the Caucasian heroine's Arabian horses. The romance was between a man and a woman of two different races and social classes. The book has won many awards. It recently went out of print and I just reissued it myself. If you’re looking for an enduring love story told in a multi-cultural venue the links and reviews are on my website: http://www.nikkiarana.com/sonoma.html

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  4. Thanks for mentioning me, Deborah! I totally agree with you about the use of stereotypes--or stereotypes which aren't even correct! It was one of the reasons I write about Asian Americans in my books--not overseas Asians or even second generation Asian Americans, but 3rd, 4th, 5th generation AAs. The AA subculture--and especially the Christian Asian American subculture--is both different and yet the same as other ethnicities, I think.

    I got to explore it a bit more for my next book coming out next year in May. I have a Japanese American dog trainer who clashes with a Caucasian Southern boy from Louisiana! Don't you think that's cool? I had a lot of fun writing it. The funny part was, I discovered that Southern families are a lot like Asian families in many ways.

    Camy

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