In 2013, only 93 of 3,200 children’s books were about black characters, according to a new study. “Children of color remain outside the boundaries of imagination,” Christopher Myers writes about the absence. In a follow-up piece, his father and fellow author Walter Dean Myers examines the paralyzing effect under-representation can have on readers. “Books did not become my enemies. They were more like friends with whom I no longer felt comfortable. I stopped reading,” he writes.
Photographer Christopher Jue journeyed with People Who Eat Darkness author Richard Lloyd Parry into the four-story headquarters of the Kudō-kai, a Yakuza group headquartered on the Kyushu island of Japan. “My mental note to myself,” says Jue, “was ‘once I step foot into their property, anything can happen.’”
Biographer and novelist Penelope Fitzgerald of the Booker Prized novel Offshore, was born on this day in 1916. Ranked twenty-third on the London Times 2008 list of “Britain’s Fifty Greatest Writers Since WWII,” Fitzgerald didn’t begin her twenty-year writing career until age fifty-eight. Can we say Post-40 Bloomer?
Are you embarrassed about your lack of literary inheritance? You’re not alone. Here’s a great piece by Annie Liontas at The New York Times on those first, lonely forays into the literary world: “But I see my experience as an immigrant into the world of letters as a blessing. Being an outsider is the origin of my imagination; it gives me the constant consciousness that my perspective is only one of many and that there are myriad ways of being in the world. It grants me the gift of being attuned to the voices in the room, as well as all of those shut out of it.”
Over at Threepenny Review, Jess Row expounds on “blandness” in the work of Haruki Murakami, and particularly in his 2.8 lb. tome 1Q84—a book tabbed by Charles Baxter in last year’s Year in Reading as the best he’d read all year. Row contemplates the way Murakami’s characters and sentences “almost never lose this placid, observant neutrality,” or “continuous monotone.”