We’re deep in the heart of the reading period for the 2012 One Book, One Philadelphia season, and I’m reading Edwidge Danticat’s Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work right alongside you. From now through January, I’ll be sharing some thoughts on select essays from the book each Thursday on the blog. I hope that you’ll chime in with your thoughts and perspectives, too!
This week, I read chapter two, “Walk Straight,” and I found Danticat’s passage about the notion of what fiction is and should be (found on page 32) to be especially compelling. In response to an angry letter accusing her novel Breath, Eyes, Memory of being inauthentic to the Haitian experience, Danticat writes:
The letter writer was right, though. I was lying in that first book and all the other pieces of fiction I have written since. But isn’t that what the word fiction or novel on the book jacket had implied? […] And how can one individual—be it me or anyone else—know how nine to ten other million individuals should or would behave?
What do you think? Does fiction rooted in a cultural community need to be authentic to the experience of the whole group? Is that even possible? Or is it more important for fiction to be authentic to the actions, reactions, and emotions of its characters?
What did you take away from “Walk Straight”?