So, you wanted to help but somehow made things worse.
Has this ever happened to you?
You hold the door for a disabled person and offend them.
You ask someone for their preferred pronoun and get an appalled reaction.
You make a comment to engage a minority member and single them out.
Every single time I meet someone new, they will ask me, in order, 1-Where is my accent from? 2-Where in Italy was I born? 3-Then they proceed to tell me about their great-grandfather who was born in Sicily.
After seventeen years in the United States, it's a struggle to remember that people are trying to connect with me rather than remind me all the reasons I don't belong here.
Truth is, that no matter how hard we try, it's impossible to make everyone happy. Some disabled people will love help, some won't.
This is different from cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation, or rather, mis-appropriation, means mimicking the behavior of a specific ethnic group without understanding the cultural meaning of such behavior, possibly for amusement.
Examples: insensitive Halloween costumes, faking any accent ever.
However, there are some gray areas. For example, when I moved here in 2003, my American English was terrible, and I soaked up slang and colloquialisms. I was appalled when a coworker told me off for using a "typical African American" expression.
"So what?" I thought.
_Was I wrong or was the person telling me off reinforcing a cultural divide?_ It's still a gray area to me.
On to the issue at hand.
I live in Buffalo, New York, which is geographically intertwined with native lands specifically belonging to Seneca natives. Yet, in the seventeen years I have lived here, I have heard nothing of Seneca culture. So, I documented myself and learned about it through native blogs and books (by native authors).
As an author, I want to give a voice to the Seneca natives of my community. Particularly, I want to break some harmful stereotypes (see Pocahontas and the negative reactions it caused in native communities).
Can a non-native author speak for a native community? Of course not. In fact, unless someone is elected as an official spokesperson, no one should ever speak for a community!
We are individuals, with subjective views and experiences.
The conundrum: can a non-native author write a native character?
Thankfully, a number of native blogs offer excellent guidance on the topic. For example, "Indian Country" on Reddit is an excellent source of information.
The book I am working on is a sci-fi romance titled "In the Arms of Morpheus," and I am now seeking native collaborators (possibly Seneca) to gauge their point of view and/or hire them as beta readers.
I am hoping to empower a fundamental minority within my community and bring you an awesome novel at the same time <3
What do you think? Have you ever been offended by fictional content that misrepresented a group you identify with?
PTSD is a topic dear to me.
Below is an excerpt from "Linked."
The two characters, Naira (call sign "Rogue") and Lethal, are both Cursoi: soldiers with special powers. Lethal can instantly kill enemies by crushing their internal organs, while Naira is a healer.
The two started as archenemies and rivals, but at this point of the story they have "linked," a process beyond their control that caused them to share their consciousness and powers. This is why there are no quote marks; they are speaking in each other's head.
They've just returned from a mission where they had to slaughter a crowd of rioters.
I wake up in Lethal’s arms—fully clothed—face bathed in tears. I was having terrible nightmares, like when we linked at first. Merging with dead bodies. Walking by myself over a desert of corpses. Hearts exploding every time I try to explain my feelings. Lethal holds me tighter and I let him. I cannot believe I judged him. I keep seeing all those people, crumpling to the floor, over and over, and I hyperventilate.
Naira—Rogue, we were just carrying out orders. You have to separate yourself from the action, from the responsibility.
I can’t. I sob. Zera could have erased them. Took their bonking suicidal plan out of their heads.
It was their choice, Naira. Their free will.
And mine to take their life, I reply because we did have a choice. I did. I did not feel as compelled as I should have. Did you?
Lethal shakes his head and says, Opposing orders means taking responsibility for the consequences, though.
I consider his words. This is democracy. We are soldiers: the arm, not the brain. The majority of citizens who bothered to vote elected Crash. Crash is in charge of making decisions. I shake my head at the state of a planet who chose Crash as the brain, but who am I to betray democracy? To take responsibility for the deaths consequent to my choice? No one elected me, and I’d never run for president.
Lethal says, It gets easier with time. Maybe because I remember surviving. Lethal pauses. Or maybe because I forgot what it really means to live.
The book Autonomous shows a world of biomedical achievement via the creation of free bio zones. These zones allow unrestricted medical testing. Would such a thing do more good than harm?
"[...] Memorable prose [...] Read for the joy of it."
I am an immigrant.
16 years ago today, I arrived in Buffalo and was detained at the border...
This started an adventure I never thought would be told.
What better day to release my new novel, "The Immigrant?"
Get it now!
People think they like smart people...
Most "smart" people are very much lonely, in fact.
Truth is, no one likes to feel dumb by comparison.
Well, I promise you, there is no such thing as a smart (or dumb) person.
We are all human.
Sure, we have different sets of skills, but who says that being good at math trumps manual or social skills?
Be the best human you can be.
And shoot me an email.
...But particularly if you want to rant about books, music, science, movies, or feel so lonely it hurts.
I will email you back.
Book card at a glance
OVERALL RATING: 🍪🍪🍪🍪 4/5
GENRE: Sci-fi, introspective, space novel
TITLE: 🍪🍪🍪🍪🍪 5/5
COVER: 🍪🍪🍪🍪 4/5
PREMISE: 🍪🍪🍪 3/5
VOICE: 🍪🍪🍪🍪 4/5
PLOT: 🍪🍪🍪 3/5
CHARACTERS: 🍪🍪🍪🍪 4/5
WORLD: 🍪🍪🍪🍪 4/5
PACE: 🍪🍪🍪 3.5/5
ENDING: 🍪🍪 2/5
This is a MULTI-POINT-OF-VIEW novel following three astronauts, Helen (American), Sergei (Russian), and Yoshi (Japanese), and some other the people in their lives.
The PREMISE is that the three astronauts have been selected for a 15-month simulation to train them for a potential trip to Mars. Should they succeed in this more-real-than-life simulation, they will become the first humans to walk the red planet.
While the PLOT is rather simple, with one big, if a bit clumsy, surprise, the strength of this book lies in the CHARACTERS. The characters are complex and multi-faceted and the novel is a pretext for the exploration of human nature as much as space. The only reason I gave characterization four cookies rather than five is that all the characters shared a common sensibility and were not as distinct as I would have liked.
The main THEMES, in my opinion, are those of reality and identity. If you act as a perfect astronaut, aren't you a perfect astronaut, even though your thoughts are subversive? Same goes for the perfect wife, daughter, etc... The theme is weaved throughout the narration touching on sexuality, loneliness, guilt, loss, self-discipline, and many more aspects of life easy to relate to. Interestingly, one of the characters is an actress who walks the fine line between controlling and being controlled by her emotions. Though in the eye of your community you are what you do, there's always a secret inner life that is not necessarily shared and that is just as important for individuality.
"The Wanderers" is the perfect TITLE, since it historically refers to planets, whose motion was observed by our ancestors to be different from that of stars, but it might also apply to the characters, since all of them wander about life, emotions, and their connection (or lack thereof) with others.
The COVER is appealing, though not mind-blowing, and does an excellent job of conveying the mood of the novel, targeting to the correct readership.
Though not particularly original, I loved the VOICE. The narration is smooth, alternating lyrical moments with humor and witticisms. Having ESL (English as a second language) characters slip in grammar mistakes when tired or distressed was overplayed and not necessarily realistic in my experience as an ESL, though everyone is different.
Howrey did an excellent job of developing the astronaut's WORLD: the training, psychology, simulations, the environment, and the space experience. I am not an astronauts, so I cannot witness to the authenticity of the narration, but it sure felt authentic and well-researched. I also enjoyed the hints at the different cultural backgrounds (American Japanese, and Russian).
The PACE was okay, but the book did feel long (it's about 400 pages of rather small print). Even though it was going nowhere, I was engaged and looking forward to read more, but toward the end I was getting tired.
The ENDING was rather disappointing to me. I like novels with a well-wrapped, cathartic ending, while this one belonged to the category of whimsical, who-knows type of endings except for one of the characters (Dimitri) who has a coming-of-age moment. All the other characters, though many have various degrees of realizations, do not act on them.
At the end of the novel I felt like I had LEARNED a lot about space and astronauts, and the book made me wander (pun intended) about the themes discusses.
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