[DWJ] Chrestomanci needs help in the YA Fantasy Showdown

Hallie O'Donovan hallieod at gmail.com
Thu Aug 12 14:08:24 EDT 2010

> Eugenides?  Katniss?  Not sure, though my not sureness about Katniss is
>> mostly from not caring a whole lot.  I haven't read *Little Sister*, so
>> didn't know about Gohanu, but the cover is kind of appealing. The
>> characters of colour count is definitely better than two, at any rate
> But I call shenanigans on Eugenides and Katniss. Eugenides maps
> most closely to Greek-or-other-Mediterranean, which is not
> "person of color" for 21st-century American author Megan Whalen
> Turner's readers (nor is it "person of color" in his own context,
> so he doesn't count either way). And as for Katniss, I would like
> a text to do more physical description than "olive skin, dark
> hair, gray eyes" before I feel like it's doing something about
> the overwhelming whiteness of science fiction and fantasy in
> children's and YA. Sure, Katniss could map to Latina. She could
> also map to Greek. Hell, she could also map to Eastern European
> Jew (I say, looking at the faint green tint of my own skin).

Yes, I quite agree on Eugenides - what I'm actually not sure about is how an
argument could even be made for him as a CoC.  MWT herself has said her
research involved studying Greece, both ancient and 1500s, and as you say,
that part of the Mediterranean certainly doesn't qualify.  And while you
might *possibly* make a
Katniss=discriminated-against-minority-on-basis-of-birth argument (I
wouldn't, but I suppose it's possible), that would doubly disqualify Gen,
who's anything but disadvantaged by birth.

It's a pity, because there are good things about the showdown, quite aside
from DWJ's being the only author to have two characters. We could always
leave friendly comments on the blog, I guess.


> So the actual tally as I would count it is 4, three of whom are
> written by white people. (Being written by white people doesn't
> make them bad characters, obviously, but it is something the
> compiler should have kept in mind if she was bothering to tally
> ethnicity.)
> How's about Pretty Pearl or Justice and her brothers;
> Forty-Seven; the Matsika siblings and Matt Alacran; Anand and
> Nisha; Gregor the Overlander; Zahrah the Windseeker and Eiji
> Ugabe; Yep's Thorn; Rex's Tip. (Can you tell I just made a
> syllabus for YA fantasy and science fiction and these books are
> on my mind?)
> Don't know who all of those people are? Maybe that's because
> they never turn up on lists of awesome fantasy and science
> fiction characters.
> On that blog post you link to, Hallie, the creator of the
> showdown says:
> "I wanted this to show the breadth and incredible range of YA
> literature, and that in fantasy, everyone has a chance to do
> something awesome, to play nice and kick butt equally, so to
> speak. So part of the challenge was to decide how to represent
> that kind of scope."
> If her goal had just been to have a showdown between characters
> she loved, that would be one thing. But she is explicitly saying
> that she wants to show the breadth and incredible range of the
> genre, and in that case, I would say that 4/32 characters of
> color and 1/32 authors of color is not doing a particularly good
> job of it.
> (It's also all literature written originally in English; mostly
> US, UK, with a bit of Australian and a tiny bit of Irish; and
> very fantasy-heavy. But those issues don't bother me as much.
> Also, she's got a few people in there who really shouldn't be:
> Lessa and Westley may have been consumed by teens, but weren't
> really marketed to them -- at least not in book form, because The
> Princess Bride is genre-wise in adult novel.)
> -deborah
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