On the previous episode, we heard all about the controversial Bradford Reading Challenge. It shouldn’t be controversial at all, of course. Author, tech-reviewer, and fandom activist K. Tempest Bradford suggested in an xoJane.com opinion piece that readers should branch out beyond the extremely typical, self-imposed restriction of straight, White, able-bodied, and presumably English-speaking male authors.
That’s right, thanks to the educational and media systems and cultures of Canada and the United States, that author category is default for way, way, way too many readers.
So how about, said Bradford, for one year, open up your minds and eyes to encounter the whole universe of writers beyond? To hear all about the outrageous and even vicious backlash Bradford got for suggesting people read books to make themselves happy, download episode 18 of MFGALAXY from iTunes.
But tonight, let’s pick up the Bradford Reading Challenge ourselves, and hear suggestions from:
You’ll notice that almost all those guests are male, and you are about to observe that almost all of will discuss books that men wrote. And that’s yet another example of why the Bradford Reading Challenge is so important. I personally need to read work by more women authors--and I’m happy to say I have several fascinating interviews coming your way in the near future with Nalo Hopkinson and NK Jemisin--but I definitely need to grow, too.
So please, instead of cursing the fart, open a window and let in some fresh air. Post your reading recommendations for work by women writers, coloured writers, Indigenous writers, queer writers, or writers with disabilities on mfgalaxy.org and the MFGalaxy Facebook group.
Say the title and author and why you loved the book so much. If you like, include a picture of yourself holding the book, or shoot a quick webcam video telling us about your choice!
The three most interesting entries will get each winner a copy of any of my novels--winner’s choice--and you can read all about those on ministerfaust.com and also watch all the handy-dandy videos including the snazzy cinematic book trailers.
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On the website XOJane.com, writer, editor, tech reviewer, FluidArtist.com blogger, and fandom activist K. Tempest Bradford.recently challenged readers for one year to read books by queer writers, writers with disabilities, women writers, coloured writers, and any who overlap categories.
Put another way, Bradford challenged readers to read books by writers representing the vast majority of humanity. However, she didn’t quite phrase her challenge that way--instead, she said that readers should, for one year, read books by writers who aren’t straight White men who were cis-male (that is, born and widely accepted as male).
The result of Bradford’s challenge was so much pearl-clutching that many people outright asphyxiated themselves. Many people accused Bradford of what they called “racism,” or “reverse racism,” and said they didn’t want to be “limited” in their choices, despite the fact that Bradford’s goal was to get them to stop limiting themselves.
She was not, as she put it, coming to get their White man books.
She did, however, include a photo of herself holding a Neil Gaiman book with a big red cross-out circle over the cover.
K. Tempest Bradford spoke with me by Skype from her home in New York City on March 4, 2015. She told me about:
* her goals in issuing the challenge
* the obscene and deranged attacks her challenge drew
* what’s she’s learned from the experience
* how all of that compares to her experiences of multiculturalism vs. Eurocentrism at science fiction and fantasy conventions, and
* how Neil Gaiman himself reacted to her challenge and the backlash.
For links to Bradford's work including the Bradford Challenge, visit mfgalaxy.org.
Post your recommendations of books by writers who are coloured, or women, or queer, or disabled, and those who overlap, on MFGALAXY.org.
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Wab Kinew is the 2015 host of CBC’s national book competition Canada Reads. He’s an award-winning hip hop artist and journalist, a correspondent for Aljazeera America, and perhaps best known to Canadians as the advocate for Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda, the winning book for Canada Reads 2014.
Last year on CBC’s Canada Reads, Wab Kinew electrified listeners with his opening book defense that name-checked each rival book in the competition while building to the climax of his own choice, Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda. And he did it all in just under his allotted 60 seconds, memorised, and in verse. He began the competition by demolishing his competitors, some of whom, like runner Donovan Bailey, failed to use even half his accorded time, perhaps forgetting that you couldn’t win this contest by finishing early.
Despite numerous achievements and awards, merit alone wasn’t enough to get Wab Kinew his new gig as moderator of Canada Reads 2015—timing played the decisive factor. Last September, the former Canada Reads host, Jian Ghomeshi, began a public and highly dramatic self-destruction over as-yet unproven allegations of beating women before or during sex. He’s currently living with his mother while awaiting trial.
In that context, Wab Kinew discusses:
How he got selected to be a Canada Reads 2014 panelist
What he brings to the role of Canada Reads 2015 moderator, and what he thinks the radio series should do for the country, and
His take on the spectre of Jian Ghomeshi over this year’s competition.
In part 2 of the show, you'll hear the brilliant writer of the Leo Desroches mysteries Fall From Grace and A Killing Winter, Wayne Arthurson. Arthurson is a Metis writer from Edmonton who’s been a small town newspaper reporter, advertising copy writer, ghost writer, editor, punk rock drummer, a contestant on the BOOK TV series The 3 Day Novel Contest, and the popular historian who crafted In the Shadow of Our Ancestors for Lone Pine Press.
Arthurson was one of the featured speakers at Authorpalooza, a series of writers-on-writing live talk shows I run in my current work as Writer in Residence at the University of Alberta’s Department of English and Film Studies.
To check out more of Arthurson’s work, including his appearance on The 3 Day Novel Contest, visit mfgalaxy.org.
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Palestinian-American comedian, speaker, commentator, writer, and attorney Amer Zahr is the author of collection Being Palestinian Makes Me Smile and the blogger behind The Civil Arab. Zahr has produced and headlined the 1001 Laughs Comedy Tour, the We're Not White! tour, and the In 1948 tour, and he produces the annual 1001 Laughs Dearborn Comedy Festival in Michigan at the Arab American National Museum.
He’s recently wrapped production on his first documentary, We’re Not White, about the Arab-American struggle to get a box on the United States Census Form. He’s a regular commentator in American media, having appeared on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher and written for Time magazine. He’s performed across the United States and the Middle East.
Amer Zahr spoke with me via Skype on March 4, 2015, about the craft of stand-up comedy that has its own cultural and political gravity in an era of the oppression of his own people. We began by talking about how writing is the basis of his comedy creation.
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Palestinian director Rashid Masharawi is a maverick filmmaker of documentaries and features presenting the heartbeat of a national liberation struggle and a people’s path to democracy.
Born in 1962 in Ash-Shati refugee camp in Gaza, Rashid Masharawi is the director of several documentaries and fiction films, including Love Season, Makloubeh, Haifa, Behind the Walls, Tension, Rabab, and Curfew.
He is also the winner of many international prizes, including the UNESCO Award at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival. That year, Masharawi founded the Cinema Production Centre in Ramallah, West Bank, which aims to improve and develop the Palestinian movie industry by encouraging and training young Palestinian movie-makers. An innovative artist, Masharawi created the Mobile Cinema which has allowed thousands of children to enjoy local and international films.
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For more information on Rashid Masharawi, visit mfgalaxy.org