Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Important Question

I received an amazing email recently from a reader in America. Here's her question in brief: The thing I wanted to ask was how come there are never any black/african-american characters ever represented in faery tales or in stories having to do with faery? Maybe it's the setting or place, but even though I know it's more of a european thing. I really enjoy the stories, the myths, the legends, and I love faeries. I just hope one day I'll see a story where a black girl or boy can run into a silver-tongued mermaid, a fairy prince, or a ghost and is offered an seductive choice whether to walk into the unknown or not. Now, first of all, that is such a beautifully phrased and thoughtful question that I have encouraged this young woman to get writing the very kind of book she hungers for. However, she has raised an important issue. At a time when fantasy is not only the mainstream but indeed the biggest and bestselling section of children's and young adult books, why are there not books featuring main characters of black or brown skin engaging in fantastical adventures? More about this anon. I want to think upon it.


Michelle said...

Hmmm...This immediately brings about the question of whether or not the young lady has read Neil Gaiman's Anansi boys? There is, if I'm not mistaken, some African mythology going on there. You might want to suggest that. A nice talk to a good librarian also might throw up further suggestions? And I think you gave her some very good advise.

Joshua said...

I thought of Justine Larbalestier's Magic or Madness trilogy when I read this post, but decided not to mention it because it isn't exactly about faery, just fantasy. However, one of the characters has dark skin from Australian Aborigine descent.

Anonymous said...

And what about Hekate in Michael Scott's amazing Alchemyst. Isn't she described as being black skinned?

There are also some great collections of African-American and Native American mythology and stories.


OR Melling said...

Thanks, guys! See new blog post on this.