To Smile or Not to Smile

By Sharan Matharu

Posted on July 30, 2014 in Books with tags Rebecca Levene

I thought I’d quickly write up a post about why I love Smiler’s Fair. It isn’t just because it has fantastically formed characters, an engaging plot and all the stuff you expect from a great book, it is because it is one of the few fantasy books I’ve read that is truly diverse.

smiler's finalNow I’m not talking ‘lets set my book in Japan, India or Africa’ diverse, I’m talking full on’ let’s create a real world’ diverse. Books that focus on the issues that face a particular country and its people are great, they engage with many and open peoples’ eyes to different cultures. Books that have characters who belong to a different race are cool, authors want to create diversity in their work. But sometimes when I read these sorts of books, I do get a slight nudge in the back of my mind… why should they want to create diversity, the world is diverse all by itself – should it not be a given?

The truth is that people write what is comfortable to them, because without a doubt, writing is a very personal thing. Unfortunately, sometimes this means books are often written by and for a particular group of people, don’t get me wrong this isn’t because the person writing is somehow prejudiced against others, it is simply that the culture is so different that they may not feel comfortable writing about it. Authenticity is key with reading, don’t you think? That’s why sometimes when you read male urban teenage slang written by a middle-class, country-born woman, it doesn’t always sell itself very well. This isn’t inherent in-your-face discrimination or oversight, it alienation without the intention to do so.

So you must be thinking… urm, Smiler’s Fair? I didn’t forget about it, don’t worry. The reason I say all of this is because I loved that when I started reading Smiler’s Fair the characters weren’t just diverse for the sake of being diverse. Each one of the characters was well rounded and their own person with their own struggles, race had nothing to do with it. It wasn’t just to have the world in a new and exotic setting, it was because the characters just are who they are. Rebecca has created a world that is full of characters who are different, they live in different worlds and are from different backgrounds, but all fit together perfectly. I admire Smiler’s Fair as much as I love it! Word.

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