The Whitest Books Ever
At least once a week my Google newsfeed directs me to yet another list of fantasy books I need to read. These lists are never ending.
- Best fantasy books of the last 20 years
- Best fantasy books of 2023 so far (I have seen no less than three of these)
- Top 10 fantasy books of the last decade you should read
- Top 25 fantasy boojs of the last decade you should read
- Best fantasy books you have never heard of
- 10 of the most influencial fantasy books of all time
The liats go on. Today’s list was 10 Modern Fantasy Books You Should Read.
These lists have started to piss me off. Not because I am seeing the same books over and over again. Surprisgingly, I’m not. While I am sure that all of these books are fine and worth reading, the one thing I have noticed is they are all books about white characters written by white authors. They lack any kind of represenation of any kind. Oh wait…they are fantasy and it is fantasy to believe everyone is white and heterosexual and cis-gendered.
Do not email me and tell me that racism against elves is a stand in for racism against (instert group here). I will ignore you. Or make you the topic of a blog post. I’m not having that conversation because you’ve obviously missed the point.
There are so many amazing fantasy novels written by people who aren’t white and/or have a rich diversity among the characters that make the world believeable. Son of the Storm by Suyi Davies Okungbowa, Black Leopared, Red Wolf by Marlon James, Black Sun by Rebecca Rowanhorse, She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan, and The Fifth Season by N.K. Jeminson are just a few diverse fantasy books off the top of my head.
I don’t live in a homogenous world and I don’t want to read read about one. I’m over that. I grew up reading science fiction that was written by straight white guys for straight white guys, for the most part. Andre Norton, Mercedes Lackey, and Ursula K Le Guinn were in the mix, but I can’t name any other sci-fi writers of the time that were something other than a straight white dude. The fantasy offerings of the 1970’s and 1980’s was no better. If I want white fantasy I’ll make a trip back to Middle Earth.
Do diverse books not make these lists because people don’t read diversly? Are these list writers afraid they will get hate male over gay or trans characters? Are they afraid no one will read their recommendations if they have a person of color or five on the list? Seriously people, step out of your comfort zone, embrace diversity. These books from Africa and the African diaspora, Native Americans, Asians (I hate “Asian” signifier because it lumps so much diversity together), and every other culture I’ve missed are so full of ethnic myths and legends and are just plain amazing and no one promotes them.
It makes me sad.