Articles posted here on diversity and privilege in publishing have generated much discussion at LinkedIn and elsewhere; apparently, I have not reached some people. But I don't intend to; I intend to provide info and some light analysis of latino authors, stories and characters in American lit. You can read more today.
From a NYTimes article last year by Jessica Kourkounis entitled, For Young Latino Readers, an Image Is Missing
"Mario, 8, has noticed something about these and many of the other books he encounters in his classroom: most of the main characters are white. “I see a lot of people that don’t have a lot of color.”
[Don't you just love this kid?]
"Books commonly read by elementary school children include the Junie B. Jones, Cam Jansen, Judy Moody, Stink and Big Nate series, all of which feature a white protagonist. An occasional African-American, Asian or Hispanic character may pop up in a supporting role, but these books depict a predominantly white, suburban milieu.
"A review of 250 book series aimed at second to fourth graders and found just two that featured a Latino main character.
"The Cooperative Children’s Book Center, which compiles statistics about the race of authors and characters in children’s books published each year, found that in 2011, just over 3 percent of the 3,400 books reviewed were written by or about Latinos, a proportion that has not changed much in a decade.
"Houghton Mifflin, which publishes reading textbooks, allocates exactly 18.6 percent of its content to works featuring Latino characters. The company says that percentage reflects student demographics.
Apparently, some people do understand the need to diversify their imprints. More. Faster. Read the entire article.
Literary agents and diversity
Last week, Jason Low of Lee and Low Books posted Literary Agents Discuss the Diversity Gap in Publishing. Below are extracts of interviews.
Adriana Domínguez, agent at Full Circle Literary: "Proportionally, our agency represents more authors of color than most others. We welcome diverse points of view, and see that diversity represented in our client list. I have personally felt for a very long time that there are simply not enough illustrators of color in the marketplace. I am usually very enthusiastic when I receive a query from a talented author/illustrator of color—I wish we received more of those!
"We always hear from educators, librarians and even parents that there are not enough books written by and about children of color. I think one of the obstacles is that the world of publishing has not quite caught up with this market’s potential. Part of this is due to a lack of diversity in publishing itself.
"We are past a time where we 'explain' who we are via the foods we eat, the holidays we celebrate, etc., and into an era where we simply tell our stories, just like everyone else does. Why not? Why do our books have to be perceived as “different” and be unnaturally separated from the rest of children’s books?
Karen Grencik, Red Fox Literary: The question of the author’s ethnicity doesn’t enter my mind—unless the subject relates to race, in which case I’ll wonder if the author will have the life experience that can provide a genuine insider’s point-of-view. I would estimate that perhaps 10–15% of my submissions are from people of color.
[Check Red Fox's website about submissions.]
Lori Nowicki from Painted Words literary agency and Mira Reisberg of Hummingbird Literary: "We have a particular sweet spot for authors and illustrators of color. I think we need to have a kind of self-aware affirmative action in publishing where people of color are mentored, if need be, so we can have more books by and about people of color.
"We want kids of color to see themselves reflected as inspiring protagonists and as book creators themselves. Although authors and illustrators of any race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnic background are invited to submit to Hummingbird Literary, I am offering additional assistance for authors and illustrators of color who need it, and scholarships for them at Picture Book Academy.
Banned books back in Tucson schools
This month, L.A. Times' Hector Tobar describes how "Camiliano 'Cam' Juarez knocked on more than 37,000 doors in his fight to bring certain books and ideas back into the classrooms of Tucson." In the article, Fighting to end Tucson 'ban' on books, Latino activist wins, Tobar describes how, in November 2012, Juarez won election to the governing board of the Tucson schools, where Rodolfo Acuña's Occupied America, Chicano!; The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement; 500 Years of Chicano History and four others had been banned as part of a course that was deemed illegal by the State Legislature,”
One of Latin America’s most popular bands, the puertoriqueño group Calle 13 has won 2 Grammys and a record 19 Latin Grammy Awards. This week, they blew me out of mi silla with their free song, MultiViral. The song also features Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and the Palestinian singer Kamilya Jubran. It's a multilingual work, as well, in Spanish, English, Arabic and a bit of French.
"To create the lyrics, Calle 13 lead singer/songwriter René Pérez asked followers on Twitter to express their social justice concerns in a live brainstorming session with Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, if you can believe. That's why the song is free.
Pérez was interviewed this week. "I come from Puerto Rico, and we are a colony of the U.S." He also "tweeted out that he'd like to get a celebrity to donate a jet and he'd go pick up Edward Snowden and bring him to Latin America for asylum." [Love this dude.]
Watch the killer alternative rap video and download it for free.
Before you encourage your kids or anyone to "find themselves" by enlisting in our government's wars, you could read They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America's Wars: The Untold Story by Ann Jones. [Reasonable priced at $10.] I've only read excerpts, but what I've read is:
Ann Jones: "The last time I saw American soldiers in Afghanistan, they were silent. Knocked out by gunfire and explosions that left them grievously injured, as well as drugs administered by medics in the field, they were carried from medevac helicopters into a base hospital to be plugged into machines that would measure how much life they had left to save. They were bloody. They were missing pieces of themselves. They were quiet."
This is not a nice book to read. It may make you cry. I was tempted to quote some of the most devastating and I'm not certain why I couldn't. It should be read.
2014 Sandy Writing Contest
This contest is open to authors unpublished or published. There is a$35 entry fee. Deadline, February 10, 2014. Only 250 entries accepted. First place winners receive $60 and a certificate, second place, $35 and a certificate, and third place, $15 and a certificate.
Word limit: adult categories 90k-110k, children's 40k-60k, and YA 60k-100k words.
Categories: Romance, Mainstream Adult Fiction, Suspense / Thriller / Mystery, Fantasy / Science Fiction, Children's & YA.
This is a blind judged contest; judges will not know the identity of authors submitting. Judges are from HarperCollins, Atria, FinePrint Literary, Tom Doherty and Disney Hyperion. Go here for entry form.
Spec publisher expanding acquisitions
From Night Shade Books: "Start Publishing’s Meghan Kilduff is actively acquiring Night Shade titles for next year. I encourage everyone to reach out to her with new submissions."
Es todo, hoy,