Friday, 25 September 2015

Diversity in Fiction

Diversity is incredibly important in both the fiction and the media, and the level of diversity has improved immensely in the past few years. But still I find that characters with disabilities, characters who aren't Caucasian and characters across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum are often demoted to secondary characters.

The Minority Side Character

Now, don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with books where this happens. It's just that there aren't enough books out there that include diverse protagonists and if they do, sometimes the aspect that makes them diverse is the only story line they get when in reality people have much more to them. Nobody can be defined by one thing. Even if the diverse characters are not the focus of the story, they still should to be three dimensional, just like any character ought to be.

Diversity not being the Focus

The main thing I want from diverse fiction in the upcoming years is for there to be more books about characters whose story lines do not revolve around their diversity. There are many good books that do this and I think these are very important for young people growing up and wanting a character to relate to. Of course, I love plenty of books where characters need to work out who they are or have to navigate life where they struggle with the thing that makes them different. But It'd also be cool to read books where that's just a part of it - where a character is in a wheelchair but that isn't their entire story.


I cannot pretend to know what it's like being misrepresented, but I know it can't be fun. Sometimes an author's heart is in the right place, but they might misunderstand what it's like if they are not part of that particular minority group. The main issue with this is that not only can it be insensitive, but also that readers who have not experienced what it's like will also get the wrong idea. I'm not sure if there's a way to fix this, as two people can take something very different from the same book. I believe that the best way to avoid any misrepresentation is for the author to do their research, and ask real people in order to understand their experiences (as long as they are sensitive in doing so).

What do you think? Do you think diversity in fiction should always be the focus of a book? Can you think of any better ways to avoid misrepresentation? Comment below, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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