- You Talking To Me, Sonali? (an authenticity in diversity a-ha moment) – This short post from Sonali Dev is a clever observation of the details that make an author’s voice authentic.
The point here is that despite the fact that I detest stereotypes, I do admit that communities and cultures speak a certain way and often we don’t even notice it ourselves. I’ve started noticing how I speak to people and, yes, dear reader, I name names. A lot. What I loved about this one was the subtlety of it. It’s a tool, I realized. When I use names, it’s an emotional punctuation. As a character it says things about me. In conversation, sometimes it’s a caress, sometimes a slur and sometimes an attempt to shake the person I’m talking to in sheer frustration. And knowing this helps not just with staying true to my character’s culture but to my character herself. In knowing that if a character doesn’t match up to this norm, she is different and exploring why she is different and why it manifests in this particular way in her conversation.
- Jane Austen’s South Asian Sisters with Zeenat Mahal – Zeenat Mahal, a romance author from Pakistan, talks about romance and romantic fiction in South Asia.
Most South Asian writers of popular fiction today have done a superb rendition of culture, story and context and some of them have pushed boundaries that have hitherto been barely seen in genre writing. To incorporate such challenging themes as gay couples, finding love as senior citizens, lustful female ghosts, pre-marital sex and the ‘consequences’ of these choices in romance, chick-lit and fantasy romance, is something new in South Asian tradition. It is a commendable feat because it brings taboo subjects into the realm of every day, without ramming it down their readers’ throats in ‘heavy prose’. These are easily relatable, ordinary tales of love and heartache, and South Asia is thirsty for more.
South Asian popular literature today has a complicated legacy. We are writers from various ethnic backgrounds, Punjabi, Marathi, Balouchi, Pathan, Tamil and so many others, writing in English. The various Western writers we have read and loved and who have left an indelible mark on our consciousness, are never far from our stories. Neither are the writers and literature of all the regional languages we know. South Asian writers have multiple traditions on hand to mine their stories from, and to take inspiration from and this makes for a heady mix indeed.
- What We Know (And What We Don’t know) About Harper Lee & Her New Book. – Ceilidh talks about why the Harper Lee announcement sounds super shady. (Jezebel also posted about this, but I don’t like to give them clicks.)
It’s hard to overstate the glee this news has evoked in readers of all ages. Twitter of course launched into prime joke mode with imagined sequel names, digs at other writers (JD Salinger and George RR Martin the favourite targets) and speculation over the plot. While we know the story will follow Scout Finch, the young narrator of the Pulitzer Prize winning first book (and won’t referring to that book as the first one always be incredibly strange?) as an adult in the 50s, little else has been revealed.
The book itself is not the only part of the story readers have questions about. Why would Lee, who by all accounts was not especially eager to publish a second novel, do so now and after such a long time and at the age of 89? Lee has been in the headlines sporadically over the past couple of years with reports of ill health and legal battles too, so the circumstances relating to this news are not particularly positive ones.
- 6 Reasons Not To Be A Jerk About Trigger Warnings – I continue to not understand why people get angry about trigger warnings. A simple heads up only seems fair to me.
As you meander around the internet, you may occasionally encounter an article or video prefaced by a trigger warning (or the abbreviated version, TW). A trigger warning is a note that indicates potentially traumatic content. These notes applied to such varied topics as sexual assault, graphic violence, racism, transphobia, eating disorders and child abuse—basically any discussion that could cause a post-traumatic stress reaction for certain people.
Trigger warnings are an important and necessary tool for many people. For others, they are at worst a minor inconvenience. You would think this would mean that the inclusion of trigger warnings would be a no-brainer, yet some folks still insist on being nincompoops. In case you’re in danger of becoming a nincompoop, here are six reasons not to be a jerk about trigger warnings.
- Robots are starting to break the law and nobody knows what to do about it – I’m pretty ignorant of the law, but I thought this was a super interesting question raised by a Swiss art project.
The Random Darknet Shopper, an automated online shopping bot with a budget of $100 a week in Bitcoin, is programmed to do a very specific task: go to one particular marketplace on the Deep Web and make one random purchase a week with the provided allowance. The purchases have all been compiled for an art show in Zurich, Switzerland titled The Darknet: From Memes to Onionland, which runs through January 11.
The concept would be all gravy if not for one thing: the programmers came home one day to find a shipment of 10 ecstasy pills, followed by an apparently very legit falsified Hungarian passport– developments which have left some observers of the bot’s blog a little uneasy.
If this bot was shipping to the U.S., asks Forbes contributor and University of Washington law professor contributor Ryan Calo, who would be legally responsible for purchasing the goodies? The coders? Or the bot itself?
- 'No One Was Tougher': The Story of the NHL's First Black American – This is just a brutal story of what the first American black NHLer went through thirty years ago. To our shame, black players still get pelted with bananas and epithets, in juniors and in the pro leagues. It’s an ongoing problem. (TW: The article spells out the racist abuse he receives.)
A seven-game run with the Buffalo Sabres in the 1981-82 NHL season saw James prove Caron’s point. The Sabres were playing against the Boston Bruins when he found himself facing down legendary enforcer Terry O’Reilly at the Boston Garden in 1982. O’Reilly was nicknamed Bloody O’Reilly for his dirty play, and getting the best of him in a fight was unheard of. James knocked him down twice.
But playing in the Boston Garden also led to the darkest moment of James’s career. After the game was over, and the Sabres were ready to leave, an angry mob blocked their team bus. Scores of people were shouting, “Send out the nigger.” Someone hurled a beer bottle at the bus, and the front windshield splintered. James had trained himself for almost a decade to not let things like this get to him, but he couldn’t control his emotions that day. Tears streamed down his face.