Sharon's Muse.... Let's chat over coffee while I ponder some things

About Me

My Meez


Recent Entries



Interesting Sites




In Stores

Watch mini trailer

Clip of places featured in Again

Need Flashplayer to view. Give time to load.


Short, Short Ebooks

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Marketing Segregation Redux – Why some folks have never heard of Octavia Butler

I came across this Livejournal post about Octavia Butler at Pwwka’s Lair and it succinctly illustrates why marketing segregation based on the author's race is just plain wrong:


Okay. People keep asking who this Octavia Butler is, and which books they should read of hers. It's not your fault, really. A lot of stores carry her in the African American sections, not the science-fiction sections-- and she didn't like that any more than I do. But you can find her in sci-fi/fantasy in most Barnes & Noble and Borders stores.

There are five books I'd recommend most:

1) Wild Seed. It was so good, Orson Scott Card used it as an example of how to write.
2) Clay's Ark. Very intense book, but it's in my science-fiction top ten. I just secured a signed first-edition from a seller via, thank heavens.
3) Parable of the Sower. Probably her most thoughtful book, this will appeal to the post-apocalyptic in you. Parable of the Talents is its sequel. I believe she was going to write another one after that, but... *sigh* Perhaps Barnes and Due will find some unpublished manuscript.
4) Fledgling. Published at the end of last year, this is her most recent work.
5. Blood Child. An award-winning short story, currently available in a collection of short stories under the same name.


And here's another blogger who says much the same thing:

"Ok, so I've never read a single word she's written. But that's because she's black and bookstores put her stuff in the African American literature section and I rarely go to that section. Not because I'm a racist bastard but because what the hell kind way to group books is that? I mean, is that a specific genre? "Hmmm. I'm in the mood for something written by an african american." And Chinua Achebe is just in regular fiction. Obviously he isn't American, but it just goes to show that the African American section is just a way to lump people based on arbitrary characteristics and says nothing about their writing. So yeah. Octavia Butler was probably the only black female science fiction writer. I heard interviewed on NPR sometime last year and she seemed like a hoot. Sadly, I forgot all about her until I found out she died. Anyone read any of her stuff?"


Ironically, I had cited Ms. Butler as an example in an earlier post of how market segregation misguidedly shelves books based on the author’s race and not the actual genre of the book. It is a shame that so many people haven’t heard of this esteemed author of acclaimed sci-fi literature, this recipient of a MacArthur Genius Fellowship (so rarely given), this woman who gave of herself to aspiring authors in her tutorship at the Clarion workshop in Seattle, this friend of so many acclaimed writers, including Greg Bear… And yet we hear the refrains these past couple of days following her death: "Who was she; I’ve never heard of (or read) her books?"

This might not have been the case if she had been properly shelved in Science Fiction instead of ghettoized in African-American literature. It’s a shame that it took her death for her finally to be discovered by the masses.

Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 2/28/2006 06:22:00 AM Permanent Link     | | Home


Layout Design by Hajira Thanks to:Getty Images BlogspotBlogskins