Thank you so much to all of you who commented on the “Characters of Color, Christian Fiction, and the Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn…Giveaway!” post last week. I’ve never had quite so much discussion on this blog! It was wonderful to hear all your perspectives and insights. I’m still learning so much about all this myself.
Before I announce our winner, I wanted to acknowledge a few especially insightful points that YOU, dear readers, brought up on last week’s post:
1. Several of you shared you don’t consider the race of characters when you choose a novel to read—you read for the story and for the message. Those are probably the most important elements of a story to me too, and honestly it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve even become aware of the predominant race of most characters in my favorite novels. Since I’m white, it seemed perfectly normal to me that book characters be white too. Not till I started having close friends of other backgrounds and colors, and realized how it felt to see “people like them” so underrepresented in available Christian reading material, did the imbalance start to bother me.
I think it’s also easy for those of us from the majority culture to dismiss race because we don’t feel like it affects us much. But if I, as a white reader, think for a moment how I might feel if almost all characters in Christian novels were, say, African-American,I get a tiny sense of the implicit marginalization some of our brothers and sisters in Christ face.
2. Another issue that came up is that Tamsen Littlejohn herself actually looks pretty white. So how is this a book that pushes the boundaries of race in Christian fiction? I don’t want to give away too much of the story, and I believe some of Lori’s future books-in-the-works may be even more “colorful.” But this story still gently and subtly presses cultural walls in ways I’ve rarely seen in a mainstream historical romance. An African-American editor once told me that sometimes if the door isn’t open wide (to novels with diverse characters in the Christian market), you have to get in first through a crack. Such a crack seems to have opened for Lori’s books, and I think she is pushing it wider for more and more of us to come through.
3. Finally, Neta Jackson, of the Yada Yada books and Trailblazer series, mentioned that it’s not only important to read books with characters of color, but by authors of color. I haven’t sought out books by writers of different backgrounds as much as I should, but I want to. I’ve just placed an Amazon order for Zora and Nicky: A Novel in Black and White by Claudia Mair Burney—I got two recommendations for this author in one day! Neta also recommended African-American authors Sharon Ewell Foster and Kim Cash Tate, and I want to check them out as well. I also highly respect Asian-American novelist Tosca Lee, whose novel Iscariot won the 2014 Christian Book Award for fiction.
So…if you didn’t win The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn this time, there are a whole bunch more wonderful authors for you to check out!
And now, our happy winner is:
Gwendolyn Gage! Congratulations, Gwendolyn! She should be receiving her signed copy of The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn soon. We hope you greatly enjoy!
Thank you all so much again for participating! I do hope you’ll come back and keep joining the conversation so we can keep learning and growing together. Don’t forget to Subscribe (see top right of this page) if you’d like to be notified of new posts by email. You won’t be spammed. 🙂
So, do you have any other thoughts or insights that you think should be addressed from our post last week? Please comment and share!