Jonathan Franzen claimed he won’t write about race because of limited ‘firsthand experience’, while Lionel Shriver hopes objection to ‘cultural appropriation is a passing fad’. So should there be boundaries on what a novelist can write about?
Sharon Bakar's insight:
Authors weigh on the question of "cultural appropriation".
" .... as with most authors I know, writing a novel feels like I’m discovering a story more than creating one. Every one of my novels has begun with a single image. My first novel One Foot in Eden, began with an image of a farmer standing in his field. All that I knew was that the farmer’s crops were dying around him and that something was dying inside him as well. With The Risen, the image that prompted the novel was an image of a mound of leaves, beneath which was clearly a grave. There are certain beliefs a writer has to have to survive while writing a novel. I’ve always been fascinated with Michelangelo’s conviction that the finished statue already existed within the block of marble. All he had to do was chip away and find it. What I believe, or make myself believe, is that if an image emerges and I cannot quit thinking about it, then the whole novel already exists, either in my subconscious or somewhere out in the universe ..."
Robert McKee, has taught creative writing for 30 years. His seminars have attracted more than 60 Oscar winners, but are treated with suspicion by many novelists – including Tim Lott. Can he be won over?
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