Monday, August 22, 2005

Urban fiction

Today, at a Barnes and Noble in Brooklyn, Katherine and I noted the "urban fiction" table, all of which appeared to be fiction with drawings of black people on the cover. Since many non-blacks also live in urban areas, it seems odd--not to mention overly and unnecessarily sensitive--to use "urban" as a euphemism for "African-American." I'm pretty sure I've seen the same genre referred to as "African-American Fiction" at other bookstores, even other Barnes and Nobles. I don't like to see fiction segregated, but at least, in calling these books "African-American" rather than "urban" there's a bit of honesty in what's being attempted. In any case, I didn't particularly like this false "urban-non-urban" distinction, so I moved a copy of "The Devil Wears Prada" to the "urban fiction" table. While I have not read the book, I understand it's an account of a whole lot of white people working at a magazine like Vogue. That ought to qualify as "urban fiction," and ought to be of interest to those of all races looking to read about life in the big city. I didn't think much of my rearranging, but then, on the subway this evening, Katherine and I spotted an African-American woman on our train reading none other than "The Devil Wears Prada." Could it be? Who knows. Katherine pointed out that the woman in question was already too far into the book to have purchased it after we'd been at the store. Perhaps the lesson that can best be learned from this is that all fiction ought to be presented neutrally to readers of all races.


Anonymous said...

I don't know if you've read any of Terry Mcmillan's books (waiting to exhale etc.) but she's generally considered to be the Tom Wolfe of the black upper middle class.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

I've seen the movie, "Waiting to Exhale." Not seeing the "Charlotte Simmons" connection, though.

Moxie said...

Have you read "The Devil Wears Prada"? It's bubblegum for the mind, making it a fast read, so it's quite possible the woman had bought the book after you rearranged the section. Stranger things have happened!