My characters speak to whoever will hear their story. They have a journey with which anyone can choose to relate. So many Black authors don’t see a wider circulation of their work because in some places, the African-American section of a bookstore is just a half shelf or table pushed to the back. And sometimes, people are just too afraid to check out something that they think is only meant for Black people to understand. As if the book is completely written in Ebonics or something.
That’s why I think it’s time to uproot the African-American section from the bookstore. Yes, that means there may be an Wahida Clark urban fiction novel sitting next to your Candace Bushnell urban fiction. Donald Goines may finally sit next to Sue Grafton. But isn’t that where they belong? Segregating our fiction, by anything other than subject matter or genre (which I may be against as well, but that’s a whole ‘nother story), cheats us out of having options in our reading lives.
“My name is Zadie Smith, and I am a 38-year-old pathological reader. I would like to say in my defense that I don’t really get the appeal of YOLO. I live many times over. Hypothetical, subterranean lives that run beneath the relative tedium of my own and have the power to occasionally penetrate or even derail it. I find it hard to name the one book that was so damn delightful it changed my life. The truth is, they have all changed my life, every single one of them—even the ones I hated. Books are my version of ‘experiences.’”
What It Means to Be Addicted to Reading: Summer is a wonderful time for the bibliophile.