Thursday, February 6, 2020

What Does America Look Like? by James W. Ziskin

Here’s our topic for this week: Discuss diversity in the sense of the market. What do you want to see on bookshelves from black authors in 2020?

From Jim

I don’t believe this should be about what I, a white man of a certain age, want to see on bookshelves. Yes, I’m interested in other cultures and people who are different from me. How sad and dull the world would be if we were all the same. But the way I’d like to frame this issue in my head is in the form of a question:

What does America look like?

Publishing should resemble that.

It doesn’t.

And this is not the way to remedy the issue.

See the results of the Lee and Low Diversity Baseline Study on publishing.

The publishing industry, as any business enterprise, should serve us all, fairly and joyfully. African-Americans make up about thirteen percent of the US population. Yet, according to the recently released Diversity Baseline Study, only 5% of the industry’s employees identify as African-American. I can only assume if there were better representation in the industry, there would be more published books by African-American authors.

We have to do better.

The good news is that there are (though not nearly enough) African-American authors we should be reading already. Here are some you should know in the crime fiction genre. Apologies to those I’ve missed.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Scott Adlerberg
Frankie Y. Bailey
Eleanor Taylor Bland
Valerie Burns
Austin Camacho
S. A. Cosby
Tracy Clark
Nikki Dolson
Danny Gardner
Kellye Garrett
Alexia Gordon
Gar Anthony Haywood
Cheryl Head
Chester Himes
Cate Holahan
Rachel Howsell Hall
Stephen Mack Jones
Attica Locke
Mia P. Manansala
Walter Mosley
Barbara Neely
Gary Phillips
Kwei Quartey


Susan C Shea said...

That's a good list, Jim. Sisters in Crime has a fuller one online (Frankie's List, under the Advocacy header) that is updated periodically.

catriona said...

Kwai Q is the writer I'm most excited to have just discovered. (Don't judge me. I only started in on Elly Griffiths three years ago.)