Do you remember the first fictional character that spoke directly to you and your experiences? For Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Anita Felicelli at Bustle asked 13 authors to recount the first time they saw themselves reflected in a work of fiction. The answers range from Bich Minh Nguyen choosing Maxine Hong Kingston’s Woman Warrior to Soniah Kamal with Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.
“As they were actual animals, rather than anthropomorphized personality traits intended to teach moral lessons, the Dog’s words were just a bunch of barking. The Goat bolted across the road, ending up on the ridge behind the Baker place. The Goat’s owner then called Animal Control, even though the Dog’s owner knew about the pot plants in the former’s greenhouse, which he had always been cool about, though that may change real soon.” Aesop’s lesser fables.
Some corners of the literary world were confused last week when news hit about the passing of Beatles producer George Martin, forcing Game of Thrones author George R.R. Martin to make this statement: “While it is strangely moving to realize that so many people around the world care so deeply about my life and death, I have to go with Mark Twain and insist that the rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated. It was Sir George Martin, of Beatles fame, who has passed away. Not me.”
Jessica Love writes for The American Scholar about some recent psychological studies on the art and perspective of storytelling. Of particular interest is the way “the first person does seem to encourage us to identify with the narrator, especially when that narrator is a lot like us.” Not that identifying with narrators is the primary purpose of reading, as the New Yorker reminds us in a piece against “relatability,” but it’s something to consider the next time you pick up a novel and find a character who seems to be just like you.
Ayobami Adebayo is interviewed by Abigail Bereola for Hazlitt and it’s fantastic. They discuss proverbs, romantic love, sickle cell anemia and writing your first book. “At the risk of sounding very narcissistic, I’m going to say I write for myself ultimately. And maybe my sister. I think that when I’m working, it’s very difficult for me to think about an audience, perhaps because sometimes it gets a bit overwhelming. I’m trying to figure out so many things that I really don’t start thinking about the idea that other people might read this thing until, ‘Oh my God, it’s publication day’ and I have a panic attack like ‘Oh my God, what have I done?’ I think the awareness of an audience is something I’m just coming into because this is a first book.”