Yesterday I attended an event at Waterstones Bham, called A Change is Gonna Come. The panel was made up of Patrice and Yasmin, authors that are included in the anthology. Having seen the book crop up on Twitter from the competition to the distribution of the book. I was interested to learn more about it. I’m going to summarise what I learnt below.
I love YA because it includes so many different genres and types of fiction that it can’t be easily defined. The best you can do is apply the title, Young Adult. Young Adult often explores the formation of identity and is about finding yourself. As a reader, you want a character that shares you experience and right now there don’t appear to be enough authentic BAME stories. While you don’t always want race to be the issue of the story, you don’t always want to read stories that completely leave you out.
Literature doesn’t always reflect the community and the hope is that it will inspire a new generation of writers to take the plunge and explore different stories. Stories like this will hopefully open up discussion and it is awesome that a publisher (Stripes) was passionate about this anthology. When you are of a different race, you can feel as though you are an ambassador. You have to have perfect manners, and dress right so that people don’t assume things about your race. You can feel you have a responsibility to write about your experiences but you shouldn’t be “held to your colour.”
The fear is that you will be pigeonholed and this will stop you telling the stories you want to tell. Books take you to places you have never been before. When you are a young adult you are assumed to have agency over your life yet everyone else has control- your parents, teachers and other adults. YA is interesting because it influences the adults of the future.
There was more to the discussion but this is the bare bones of it. My hope is that with books like this being published, more will appear on bookshelves.