Friday, 11 January 2019

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Are Non-Western Inspired High Fantasies Only Having a Moment?

Are Non-Western Inspired High Fantasies Only Having a Moment?

Titles marked with an asterisk (*) were gifted to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Over the last few weeks, I've read quite a few #OwnVoices high fantasies by authors of colour, inspired by non-Western cultures, and I have been loving them! There have been quite a few that have been published over the last few years - An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir, Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi*, Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi, City of Brass by S. A. Chakroborty*, Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan*, Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean*, Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri*, Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa*, and many more - which is awesome for authors of colour; they finally get to tell their stories and have them sold. Diverse high fantasy is finally having it's moment, and it's about time. However, it does make me wonder, is it only a moment?

Diversity is not a trend, we all know that. It simply is, and therefore should be present in all books, always. But it's taken how long to get the level of diversity in books we have now? And Western, Medieval England-inspired high fantasy did really well for a long time, and has been and still is hugely popular. What if white readers are enjoying these books right now, but will end up going back to those books? Of course, it's not just white people who read high fantasy, but publishing hasn't been that concerned with catering to people of colour and other marginalised groups until recently, and they're still not doing a great job. If it looks like the market is switching back to the Medieval England-inspired kind, will publishing give it up diverse high fantasies?

I myself am a white reader, so I asked myself: Do I like non-Western inpired high fantasies because they're good, or because they're different? I do love that I'm not getting the usual with diverse fantasies; I love the settings, the food, the culture, the stories/folklore/mythology that is incorporated into these fantasies that I know nothing about. All of this is awesome. But what I really love about these stories is the human factor - or maybe the person factor, as not all characters are humans? It's the characters that really make a story for me. Do I care about them? Am I invested in their plight/the conflict of the story? Am I rooting for them? But also, all the other things I mentioned? They make the characters who they are - as our background make us real humans who we are. So it all matters, really. And for all the differences, we're all people, so it's easy to relate to the characters - even if they're magical, or not exactly human. I enjoy these stories because they're different, but they're also really bloody good stories, too.

But that's just me. And I do worry. I love that we have these books now, but I want us to continue getting authors of colour's stories based on their cultures, background, countries. They're brilliant, and people of colour deserve to see themselves and their lives reflected in magical stories, in magical worlds, doing fantastic things. I would hate to see these #OwnVoices high fantasies based on other cultures fizzle out in a few years.

Over to you graphic

Do you worry about diverse high fantasies? Are there any you loved and would recommend? Are there cultures you've yet to read about? Let me know in the comments!

You might also like:

13 SFF Novels by Diverse Authors, Inspired by Non-Western Cultures My Most Anticipated 2019 YA SFF Releases by Authors of Colour

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8 comments:

  1. I think it's something that's here to say! I do believe publishing and editors are realising that there are more voices than just the straight/white/abled one and as long as diversity keeps selling, they're going to keep investing in it! I would be worried if white authors were the ones at the forefront of this. But there are SO many #ownvoices tales coming out. It's encouraging white authors to write more diversely too, but so long as POC/queer/disabled authors are leading the rising of diverse fiction, then I think we're on a good and solid path. 🎉

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    1. Oh, I do hope so! I really have been loving the books we have, and I'm so looking forward to those that are yet to come! I just hope that it doesn't fizzle out.

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  2. I certainly hope they're here to stay - well, they've always been here but I am psyched that they are getting more promotion.

    Tanya Patrice
    Girlxoxo.com

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    1. Yes! More promotion! There are some I'm hearing of now that I never new existed before. It's terrible that POC fantasies just haven't had the support that Western fantasies by white authors have.

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  3. I think it's super cool that Rick Riordan has started an imprint for own voices authors to write fun, myth-based stories like his Olympians series, based on their own cultural traditions. I haven't read any yet, but I've heard good things about the first three books. I really hope the trend becomes a reliable part of the book world!

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    1. I do think it's awesome! But I doubt I'll be reading them, as I'm not really a fan of MG, and to be honest, they're harder to get hold of anyway, as they're not published in the UK. It would be awesome to have a similar imprint that dealt with YA, and also published the books over here!

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  4. Like you, I've been loving this "trend" and I hope it's here to stay. One of the things I love about reading in general is how it can give me a broader view of the world and make me more empathetic toward people who have different experiences and worldviews than me. Since I'm a fantasy reader at heart, I hope these non-Western fantasy reads keep coming!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. Me too! They're just so incredible! I completely agree with you!

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