Cultural Appropriation in Literature is a Problem – Naomi

Cultural Appropriation in writing is a difficult topic, and I see this as a major issue.

There are a variety of cultures and issues around the world that readers may have been cheated out of by cultural appropriation in writing. If publishers are desperate for fiction pieces about minorities, it may be easier for them to simply seek out the authors whom they already interact with. This could severely limit access to publication that would help change the face of literature. Furthermore, appropriated experience could taint the reality of what is being presented. Yes, we are talking about fiction, and that is still an important avenue to explore. In an interview with Rick Moody at the PEN World Voices Festival, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie pointed out one troubling issue: “The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuœciñski has a little blurb on the cover that describes it as the greatest intelligence to bear on Africa since Conrad. And I really was insulted by that, because it isn’t the greatest intelligence to bear on Africa, and I didn’t think, by the way, that Conrad was particularly writing Africa as Africa was. What’s troubling is that this claim sets the norm for how we see Africa: If you’re going to walk in Africa, you’re told to read that book to understand Africa. But this is really not what Africa is, at least not from the point of view of Africans in Africa, which I think is an important point of view. These books distort reality—there are many examples.”

So, while fiction is by definition, describing imaginary events and people, writing so frequently skirts reality that it creates a difficult issue for readers if an author is describing actual places and cultures. These are very murky waters.

I just don’t see another side to this argument.



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