A vital collection of essays on the power of literature and the craft of writing from an international array of writers of color, sharing the experiences, cultural traditions, and convictions that have shaped them and their work
“Electric essays that speak to the experience of writing from the periphery . . . a guide, a comfort, and a call all at once.”—Laila Lalami, author of Conditional Citizens
Filled with empathy and wisdom, instruction and inspiration, this book encourages us to reevaluate the codes and conventions that have shaped our assumptions about how fiction should be written, and also challenges us to apply its lessons to both what we read and how we read. Featuring:
• Taymour Soomro on resisting rigid stories about who you are • Madeleine Thien on how writing builds the room in which it can exist • Amitava Kumar on why authenticity isn’t a license we carry in our wallets • Tahmima Anam on giving herself permission to be funny • Ingrid Rojas Contreras on the bodily challenge of writing about trauma • Zeyn Joukhadar on queering English and the power of refusing to translate ourselves • Myriam Gurba on the empowering circle of Latina writers she works within • Kiese Laymon on hearing that no one wants to read the story that you want to write • Mohammed Hanif on the censorship he experienced at the hands of political authorities • Deepa Anappara on writing even through conditions that impede the creation of art • Plus essays from Tiphanie Yanique, Xiaolu Guo, Jamil Jan Kochai, Vida Cruz-Borja, Femi Kayode, Nadifa Mohamed in conversation with Leila Aboulela, and Sharlene Teo
The start of a more inclusive conversation about storytelling, Letters to a Writer of Color will be a touchstone for aspiring and working writers and for curious readers everywhere.
About the Author
Deepa Anappara grew up in Kerala, southern India, and worked as a journalist in cities including Mumbai and Delhi. Her debut novel, Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, was named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, and NPR. It won the Edgar Award for Best Novel, was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and was shortlisted for the JCB Prize for Indian Literature.
Taymour Soomro was born in Lahore, Pakistan. He has worked as a corporate solicitor in London and Milan, an agricultural estate manager in rural Pakistan, and a publicist for a luxury fashion brand in London. His short fiction has been published in The New Yorker, and he is the author of the novel Other Names for Love.
“If you’ve ever felt that your creative choices were being dismissed or ignored in a fiction workshop, if you’ve been pressured to make your writing more ‘accessible,’ if you’ve strained under the demand to write about certain things only and to silence others—this book is for you. It is a guide, a comfort, and a call all at once.”—Laila Lalami, author of Conditional Citizens
“A brave and triumphant act of resistance and decolonization, a necessary resource for writers and educators alike, and a must-have book for readers who care about diversity and inclusion in literature. Reading this book, I felt seen and empowered.”—Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, bestselling author of The Mountains Sing and Dust Child
“Funny, moving, thought-provoking, default-challenging, engaging, and full of so much heart and so many voices, this book feels to me like nothing less than a revolution.”—Melissa Fu, author of Peach Blossom Spring
“Witty, candid, bold, gutsy, eye-opening and sometimes eye-popping, revelatory and wise! If you want to know what writers talk about among themselves, you’ve found it.”—Aminatta Forna, author of The Memory of Love
“A feast of delights: impassioned, funny, instructive, and energizing. Here, matters of craft are interwoven with those of personhood and politics, offering a global range of perspectives rarely found in books on writing. I cherish this book deeply, like a friend I’ve been waiting all my life to meet.”—Tania James, author of Aerogrammes and The Tusk That Did the Damage
“A revelatory reading experience. A book that guides, teaches, and gives off its own shimmering light, that demands to be read and re-read. Letters to a Writer of Color should take its place at the forefront of the multitude of works on the art of writing and reading.”—Katherine J. Chen, author of Joan
“The problem of the color line, as Web du Bois called it, has existed in literature and literary criticism as much as social and geopolitical realms, and systematic neglect by publishers, critics and readers has only exacerbated it. No one interested in how we read and should read fiction can afford to miss this bracing and moving anthology.”—Pankaj Mishra, author of Run and Hide
“A whip-smart collection of essays . . . I read parts of it with the joy of recognition and other parts with the astonishment of revelation.”—Kamila Shamsie, author of Home Fire
“A stunningly personal and practical compilation of literary and life advice . . . Artists of all races will benefit from the honesty, profundity, and munificence radiating from each of these letters.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“This captivating love letter to writers of color deserves to be in every library the world over.”—Booklist (starred review)