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“I should be allowed to”

One of America’s most renowned authors ventures into the culture wars and says she believes she should be able to create characters from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Anne Tyler, 80, spoke on the subject in an interview with the Sunday Times, and stated: “I am amazed at the question of appropriation. It would be very foolish of me, say, to write a novel from a black point of view, but I think I should be allowed to do it.”

Tyler — who won the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for her novel Breathing Lessons — also hit Cancel Culture.

“If an incredibly talented person was writing novels in the 1930s or 1940s and it’s suddenly discovered that they said or did something – even something as nasty as sexual harassment – they should be judged for it, but I don’t. I don’t see why you should withdraw his novels from publication,” she told the British publication.

Tyler is one of America's most renowned novelists.  She is pictured in 2015.
Tyler is one of America’s most renowned novelists.
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Tyler’s comments sparked debate on Twitter, with some claiming Tyler simply wanted to avoid any kind of criticism.

“Nobody says you can’t, only that you shouldn’t [write about black characters]. Sounds like you don’t want the consequences of such an action. And that is a privilege.” wrote one user.

However, others encouraged Tyler to write freely about anything she could think of.

“Writers should tell the truth and be free to tell any story they want. The Social Justice Warriors do not dictate what a writer can or cannot do.” said one proponent.

Tyler's comments sparked debate on Twitter.  The author is pictured in 2015.
Tyler’s comments sparked debate on Twitter.
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The best-selling author is notoriously reclusive and rarely gives interviews.

Tyler – who has been described by the British press as “America’s Answer to Jane Austen” – is is set to publish her 24th novel, French Braid on Tuesday.

In addition to Breathing Lessons, she also wrote the bestsellers Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant and The Accidental Tourist, both of which were nominated for Pulitzer Prizes. The latter became an Oscar-winning film starring Geena Davis and the late William Hurt.

In recent years, there has been debate in academic circles about whether authors can write from the perspective of fictional characters with whom they share no invariable characteristics.

Tyler is the latest prominent author to speak out against Cancel culture.
Tyler is the latest prominent author to speak out against Cancel culture.
Getty Images

In 2020, for example, the bestseller “American Dirt”, written by white author Jeanine Cummins, exposed to accusations of cultural appropriation since it revolved around the experiences of Mexican migrants.

In the same year, several prominent authors – including Margaret Atwood, Jeffrey Eugenides, Salman Rushie and JK Rowling – signed an open letter that was published in Harper’s who lamented the increasing censorship in art.

“Editors are fired for publishing controversial articles; Books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; Journalists are prohibited from writing on certain topics,” the letter reads. “As writers, we need a culture that gives us room for experimentation, risk-taking and even error.”

https://nypost.com/2022/03/21/anne-tyler-on-writing-from-black-viewpoint-i-should-be-allowed-to-do-it/ “I should be allowed to”

Dais Johnston

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