spring releases

Thanks to everyone who came out to Bard High School Early College last night!  I delivered the inaugural Peterson Lecture in the Humanities and it was warmly received.  A lovely librarian gave me a ride home and I then had time to mull over an article my agent clipped from the New York Times.  Did you know the author of the Bluford High series was a white man from New Jersey?  You can read the article here.  Part of my talk focused on the evolution of my own urban aesthetic, and I insisted that,

For me, the greatest challenge in developing an urban aesthetic is…representing the varied realities of urban children without echoing and thereby reinforcing philanthropic or sociological narratives that figure urban children as pitiful, powerless, and/or pathological.

You can write about “the gritty reality” of urban life without glorifying violence and dysfunction.  I haven’t read any of the Bluford books but that article didn’t sit well with me.  One of the questions that came up last night was around giving kids books that are not simple mirrors—if you live in a neighborhood that’s plagued with violence and drugs, then you deserve a book that reflects that reality but you might NEED a book that offers some alternatives…art should reveal what’s POSSIBLE, not only what’s real.

Books like the Bluford High series have undeniable appeal, though, and maybe they can serve as a “gateway” to other kinds of books.  Edi over at Crazy Quilts has posted a great list of spring releases, including some adult titles that might appeal to teens.  Fans of urban fiction have plenty of options…

If you want to learn more about the RANGE of fiction by women writers of color, make sure you subscribe to Color Online.  And stop by Multiculturalism Rocks! because Nathalie’s running a series of interviews with CO’s contributors.  And have you seen Nathalie’s new logo?  She designed it herself and it’s beautiful…

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~ by elliottzetta on March 31, 2011.

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