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The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency
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megustaleer



Joined: 21 Jan 2005
Posts: 9
Location: Essex

PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2005 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is there not a danger in lumping all African countries together? The characteristics and aspirations of all Europeans are not the same, so why should those of Africans?
I would expect the people of Botswana to be different to Nigerians, just as the English are different to the French. And why should people who are second or third generation British or American Afro-Carribeans know any more about the people of Botswana than someone who has lived there for years.

Fiction is fiction, and requires imagination to write it and read it.
There are some readers who look for things to be offended about, and the fact that a white author has the effrontery to write about an African is considered an offence in itself. So should writers only ever write about their own lives and experiences?
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Maggie



Joined: 16 Apr 2004
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2005 5:50 pm    Post subject: Still on the subject...who's entitled to write black?? Reply with quote

....the fact that a white author has the effrontery to write about an African is considered an offence....

Why do you think Africans/Blacks in the diaspora take such offence to this? Can a collective number of us be so over sensitive and wrong about this or is it just because you refuse to understand?

It's quite simple...we just want to create our own labels, characters,and POV, and not have other people do it for us!!!
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Patty



Joined: 14 Sep 2005
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2005 4:32 pm    Post subject: Still more about the Ladies' detective! Reply with quote

I have to say that I agree with Maggie. I find it a toe cringing experience when I read contemporary books by writers like Will Self or P.D James who sometimes have black characters in their stories and get it so wrong. It's like these authors are trying to say that they are post-racial by trying to make you feel the black characters are not really black!

It's a relief that there is now a surge of black british writers on the scene who 'tell' their stories like it is. Surely there is enough for us Europeans to write about other than telling other peoples stories?

Patty
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dmoores



Joined: 30 Nov 2005
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2005 2:06 am    Post subject: LADIES Reply with quote

Folks, this is FICTION for goodness sake. Maggie, please therefore get over it. I had hoped to read some insightful thoughts on how the stories work and what makes them so downright addictive. Instead (and how typical of these politically correct times) I get to read all this other stuff about whether McCall Smith's writing is "racist".

I understand that McCall-Smith was borne and raised in Africa so he may just know something. Furthermore he was publicly honoured back there in Botswana so I guess the people there don't have any complaint. It really is a bind when people can't dictinguish literary appreciation from political comment. Can we please leave it there??? Can we?
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Maggie



Joined: 16 Apr 2004
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 9:39 pm    Post subject: And still it goes on Reply with quote

Sorry dmores, 'fraid I can't leave it there!!!! In fact I'm going to do more then just 'leave it there' - here is an article I found written by an African American actor Cleavon Little about why white script writers cannot write plays/sitcoms that feature blacks. Hopefully this ariticle can make my point a little clearer.
..........................................................................................................
"More important than even the directors and producers, the writer is crucial to the success of black television shows," says Cleavon Little. (Mr. Little, who starred in the Broadway hit "Purlie", was also a featured performer in the film "Blazing Saddles" as well as television sitcoms such as ABC's "Temperatures Rising.") "Usually when stories are bad, black stories on television, it's because you have white writers who are attempting to write about something they haven't experienced. Most writers usually write out of their own experience, that's when they're best. But not with black shows. Here you have white writers trying to imagine experiences they can't conceivably know about… If a writer is writing out of his own experience and I, as an actor, am working with the material, I can act, move my body, get into the emotional feel of an authentic situation.

"The biggest problem I've had in acting is having to say things written for black characters by whites that could never have come out of that character's experience. It can be as simple as the difference between a character saying, 'I think that you should sit in that chair,' and, 'you oughta sit down.' But it's awful, and finally hurts the show because if the actor can't believe it the audience certainly can't… There is a different set of timing for how blacks should work comically, and most whites are simply unaware of it. If you look at Jewish comedy, it comes from Jewish writers and it comes from an authentic level. It's funny because it's consistent from the bottom up. But black comics in television are saddled with a bunch of white writers who don't know how to write for their timing; consequently, many black sitcoms are literally without substance. The problem for television comedy about blacks is simple-white writers got to give it up!"
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charlie



Joined: 14 Jan 2005
Posts: 10
Location: Leeds

PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2006 11:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hear what you're saying maggie - but does that mean that black writers can't write white characters? and what if you're mixed race?
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Maggie



Joined: 16 Apr 2004
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Sat Feb 04, 2006 12:23 am    Post subject: [b]Can black writers write white?[/b] Reply with quote

Difficult to say as I have not come across too many black authors who have written stories that predominantly feature white characters. Whether they are major or minor characters something tells me that black authors could have the same probs. For mixed race authors– well maybe there is an advantage in that mixed race authors are able to write about a multitude of people since they are likely to have a variety of people from different races and backgrounds in their lives. If you read Lara by Bernadine Evaristo or White Teeth by Zadie Smith. Both of these authors are of mixed race and their books have characters from different backgrounds who are very convincing. (Check Evaristo’s latest book – Soul Tourists).

As I said somewhere previously on this board I feel, dare I say, safe when reading any of Nadine Gordimer’s books and it is probably because her black characters are so well developed and so well thought out. She creates/writes her black characters as black characters. But if you check crime author James Patterson’s novels which features the black cop Alex Cross who works for the FBI, you will notice that Patterson never allows Cross to slip into any internal commentary. I wonder why that is? John Grisham does similar: in his novel The Last Juror, there is a black female character called Callie. She is a savant, which for Grisham is convenient as he doesn’t have to stress himself in giving her a black speech, which he might find a little difficult to handle.

As I said previously, for me who enjoys reading, it is irritating to read some of these novels when you come across such gross errors or worse still, reading a book that features a black protagonist who is not really black but who is made to think and act white, doesn’t have any hangups on race, doesn’t have too much contact with their own people, who is neutral about everythingand hardly ever gets mad and most important, they are non-threatening.

I hope I have made myself clear on this but if I haven’t then I really don’t know what else I can say to convince y’all. Maybe it’s best to read some of the books I’ve mentioned or the titles given in by the African book group. I’m done.
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