Others is an anthology of writings celebrating how words and literature can take us out of our own rooted viewpoints and show us the world from another’s perspective. We’ll have pieces on migration and racial prejudice, and what it’s like to have people making judgements about you on the basis of the colour of your skin or where you appear to be ‘from’. Look out for a piece from Salena Godden developing the theme of her essay ‘Shade’ in The Good Immigrant, and an essay from Louise Doughty on how she has approached writing about her Roma ancestry. Contributions from Will Storr, Edward Platt and others will explore how political upheavals like Brexit and the rise of Trump give us completely new ways of failing to understand each other, and how writing and literature might offer us some kind of bridge. We’ll focus, too, on other, less visible kinds of difference, such as Joanne Limburg’s work on neurodiversity or Sam Guglani’s analysis of the boundary breaking and making that goes on in the medical clinic.
In this update, I’m honoured to introduce a writer whose work tackles the othering we do to people who have a different sensory experience of the world. Sara Nović is fiction editor at Blunderbuss magazine and Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Stockton University. Her first novel, Girl at War, is a searing and tender depiction of the developing consciousness of Ana, growing up in Zagreb against the backdrop of a terrible conflict. The novel won a 2016 Alex award and was longlisted for the 2016 Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction. I came across Sara’s writing in 2015 through an article she wrote for the Guardian on the experience of being a deaf novelist. Here she is in a recent article for NBC’s Think, in which she argues for a more enlightened understanding of Deaf culture as an identity defined, like many others, by language. Sara’s writing helps me to understand not so much why Deaf people seem different to hearing people like me, but how I look different to them. As you'll know by now, the insight that literature can give into our own otherness is one of the things that we want to celebrate most in this project.
In today's world, some children are told to dream big, that they can be anything they want to when they grow up, while others are taught to aspire to "normalcy," that success can only come to them if they first perform in ways society deems acceptable. How many doctors, lawyers, scientists, and writers and artists in particular, have we lost this way? A stifling of difference disguised as pragmatism, attentions redirected from actual thinking and learning to cultivating the aesthetic of having thought or learned? It's my hope that through a project like Others, some readers might come to recognize the value in difference, while others might see a sliver of themselves on the page, feel a little peace.
Others needs your support. We are more than halfway to our funding target, but we need more people to pledge. It's easy: just hit one of the turquoise buttons to the right of this page. If you have already pledged support for the book, you might like to know that Unbound have made it easy to donate more to the project through the new Donate button. (Just go into your account dashboard and hit the green button.) You’ll know by now that every penny of profit after publication costs is going to Refugee Action and Stop Hate UK. Please continue to support us. I for one think that the world desperately needs to hear what Sara and her fellow contributors have to say.
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