Monday, September 20, 2010

Elif Shafak on the politics of fiction

Great talk on TED by Turkish novelist Elif Shafak, although after watching the video I hesitate identifying her simply as Turkish. She speaks about the power of storytelling, the meaning of crossing borders, following the imagination beyond what is expected. As our friend Patsy Aldana from Groundwood Books reminds all the time (quoting another friend of hers): books are mirrors, books are windows. Shake out 20 minutes from your day and watch this fine talk. Much to think about. And of course now I need to go buy one of her novels.



As a follow up to this discussion: This idea of the politics of fiction is a complicated subject. Indeed, much of the impetus for the emphasis on "multi-culturalism" in U.S. letters from 1970 forward came from the hoity toity ignoring the aesthetics and work of different ethnicities, especially the work of people of color. But now it seems from Shafak's experience that the multi-culturalists have become the gatekeepers. They expect her, for instance, to write sad stories about Muslim women with veils. But she doesn't want to write about what she knows best. She wants her imagination to roam. The important thing, in all instances, is the work itself. Is it a good story, is it a good poem? Literature is always a river flowing downstream, going here and there, depending upon the geography of our imagination. --Bobby

1 comment:

Doret said...

Thanks so much for this. I just added Shafak most recent novel The Forty Rules of Love to my library queue.