Diversity and Representation


Diversity and representation are so important in literature and in books!

I was shocked a couple of weeks ago, when I did a Top Ten Tuesday list of the authors I have read most books by. The the resulting list was so terribly middle class and white, once I had put the images of the authors up! With a few exceptions, they looked startlingly like my parents!

This really does not reflect my actual reading. At least, I hope it does not.

What it might reflect is the nature of the industry, however, and the ease with which white, male, straight authors find an audience and publisher whereas people whose colour, race, religion, gender or sexuality is anything other are presented with obstacles and barriers.

So I have decided to include a menu option to search my books reviews by diversity… which creates potent and problematic questions:

  • which diversities and which representations do I look for?
  • what right have I to make that choice?
  • what language do I use to identify different diversities?
  • how far do I subdivide them?

I am sure that I will take any number of missteps in this enterprise. I apologise in advance if I do. There is no intent to offend and please talk to me and educate me: I do own my own white male cis middle class privilege here.

This is no attempt to play Diversity Bingo, but to explore my own reading and open myself to other voices and narratives.

So I am going to focus on the following representations:

  • gender: there is still a need to hear women’s narratives and women’s voices in literature, as there is to hear the narratives of others on the gender spectrum. This includes championing female writers as well as narratives exploring the experiences of women.
  • sexuality: I SO wish there had been more variety and diversity in representation not non-heterosexuality when I was younger…
  • race: the black lives matters campaign and the bile spouted in some quarters about immigration amid Brexit has shone a light on the importance of the representation of race in literature
Author’s Country of Birth
Setting of Book
  • mental health including anxiety and depression and addiction, one of the biggest killers in the world at the moment
  • physical disability
  • chronic illness
  • neuroatypicality: I want to include, because of my own experiences parenting children on the Autistic Spectrum, this as a separate category to include but by no means be limited to ASC
  • class: a lot of literature comes across as terribly middle class at times and, as a teacher, the working classes statistically are not being accounted for in education, and where are the role models for those working class families in the reading we give them?

Finally, the value of #ownvoices cannot be overstated – it adds authenticity and value to the reading experience, whilst championing minority authors and raising issues that non-ownvoices writers could hardly imagine.