Erasure and the Othering of Texts
Percival Everett's Erasure takes a look at how racism affects various aspects of our lives that we may be unaware of. An excellent example of this is when Ellison ventures into the bookstore to look for his novel only to realize that they are in the Africa-American literature section. A place, as he points out, that is wholly inappropriate for the type of novels he writes and makes it impossible for anyone who might be interested in his re-workings of obscure Greek texts.
I think the point Everett was trying to make with the bookstore scene is how racial classification permeates are life in a ways that we don't even think about. Referring to someone's work as African-American fiction is automatically labeling it less than. It is already being made an "other" to other texts they may be very similar and this othering makes the work less acceptable to more audiences.
And when the text has undergone this othering then it automatically shuts off any conversation about what the text is really about. There are many works found in the African-American literature section that don't belong there. Biographies of MLK Jr. or Sojourner Truth should be found in the same place I'd find works on Roosevelt or Reagan. Brenda Jackson, or Bebe Moore Campbell should be found where I'd find Jude Devereaux or Sandra Brown. But that's not what happens. Instead if it is by a black person and in the case of many biographies, about a black person then it is automatically black book section which sends out the idea of : Hey, this book is by someone black, and must be about someone black and therefore only for black people. That sort of attitude immediately shuts off an entire audience that may find a use for or enjoyment in a novel whose only downside is that it is written by a black person,
How does this othering of Ellison's work fit into the other themes of othering that occur in Erasure? Is this labeling of works by blacks as automatically African-American literature a form of racism? And how does the labeling of work as African-American literature ultimately affect Ellison and his ability to make it as a writer in Erasure?
(C) 2005 Tamika Johnson
Tamika Johnson is a freelance writer and owner of PrologueReviews.com. If you'd like to read more articles by Tamika or would like to have your music, film or book reviewed visit www.prologuereviews.com">http://www.prologuereviews.com
Novelist V.S. Naipaul, who won the Nobel Prize in literature, has died at his home in London aged 85. He was born in rural Trinidad in 1932 and wrote more than 30 books including A Bend in the River and his masterpiece, A House for Mr Biswas.
Bookmarks Bookshop, a socialist bookstore in Bloomsbury, in London, has received outpourings of support after 12 far-right protesters stormed in and vandalized the store on Saturday evening, the Guardian reported.
As two staff members were closing the store on August 4, a dozen men, one of them wearing a Donald Trump mask, entered the store and began "knocking over displays and ripping up magazines while chanting far-right slogans." It is believed that the men took part in demonstrations earlier that day protesting the "censorship" of Alex Jones's website InfoWars.
Although Amazon's sales in the U.K. continue to grow--rising 20%, to $11.4 billion, in 2017--for the second straight year the company was able to halve the amount of corporate tax it paid.
The Washington Post asks why China is so afraid of author and book publisher Gui Minhai (also known as Michael Gui):
Gui Minhai, a Chinese-born Swedish citizen, was riding a train from Shanghai to Beijing in the company of two Swedish diplomats in January when 10 Chinese plainclothesmen stormed aboard, lifted him up and carried him off the train and out of sight.
Three weeks later, Gui was paraded before Chinese media to recite a bizarre and apparently coerced confession. He hasn't been heard from since.
This is what passes for the rule of law in China today.
I think of Gui sometimes when I hear Chinese President Xi Jinping boasting about a country that "has stood up, grown rich and is becoming strong."
Would a truly strong and self-confident nation behave this way? Why would it feel the need to kidnap -- for the second time, no less -- a peaceable 54-year-old gentleman such as Gui and keep him, in poor health, locked up for, now, more than a thousand days?
New research suggests that Dr. Seuss's Lorax is based on a particular monkey that the writer encountered in Kenya...
Recently, a group of researchers posited that the Lorax is not entirely invented, like Sam I Am or Things 1 and 2. Instead, it's inspired by a particular real-life species, a fuzzy-faced primate called the patas monkey that Geisel got to know in Kenya. Their conclusion, a paper called "Dr. Seuss and the Real Lorax," was published in Nature Ecology & Evolution earlier this week.
Do you have a habit of picking up books that you never quite get around to reading?
If this sounds like you, you might be unwittingly engaging in tsundoku - a Japanese term used to describe a person who owns a lot of unread literature.
One of the many great things about languages worldwide is the sizeable number of words for which there is no real English translation. Often they tell us about concepts and ideas that we are missing out on in the anglophone world.
As the northern hemisphere heads abroad in the coming holiday season, here are a few to be looking out for:
You may have witnessed the ritual, knowingly or not, while on the hunt for a coffee or a cold beer towards the end of another long Spanish afternoon...
"Lost" material from The Autobiography of Malcolm X, reportedly seen as too controversial to publish in the 1960s, has emerged this week at an auction in New York.
Along with the original typed manuscript, which reveals the back and forth between the black activist and his collaborator Alex Haley, to whom he told his story, the unpublished writing was put up for sale on Thursday by New York auctioneer Guernsey's. The papers, including an unpublished chapter and a series of unpublished pages, were acquired by the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
Even the light of 200 birthday candles couldn't pierce the gloom of "Wuthering Heights." But the fire that burned within Emily Brontë roars across the centuries.
How remarkable that on the bicentennial of her birth, this reclusive woman should still be crying at our window like Catherine, "Let me in -- let me in! I'm come home!" ...
The Guardian posted the Man Booker Prize longlist early, in advance of Wednesday's scheduled announcement, and then promptly took it down. But the list survived in the Google cache and across social media and thus is now public.