In labeling fiction, I wonder if we’re going a bit too far. Before I get going on this little rant, it all started when I read a post by Nicki Salcedo. In it, she talked about stereotypes and it got me to thinking about one of my first manuscripts which started out as Rosie’s Posies, then morphed into The Reluctant Groom and more recently became A Suitable Wife.
The story takes place in a fictitious small Southern town. I’ve lived in small Southern towns. I know them. In the local beauty shop, the receptionist was black/AA. In a sandwich shop, a young mixed race boy worked behind the counter.
I didn’t think anything of it.
Southern towns don’t just have white/Caucasian rednecks. Some of the inhabitants are Asian or Hispanic and yes, even Black/AA or mixed race. Some folks are even cultured and educated, though I know that may come as a surprise to some. ::rolling eyes:: I write what I know, what I’ve lived and imagine the rest.
Then an editor asked me if my manuscript was multi-cultural. Um…huh? Is that a sub-genre? Is it important? Did I need to label my work? I honestly didn’t know what to say.
The world we live in is multi-cultural and multi-raced, therefore the inhabitants of my fictional worlds are as well. I occasionally mention that my characters pray things will go well, but I wouldn’t call my work inspirational/religious by any stretch of the imagination.
Sure some labels are helpful. Even I like to know if I’m choosing a contemporary or historical read, a fiction or non-fiction, a heartwarming romance or gritty suspense. But if I don’t need to label my work with “gossipy, elderly women,” “alcohol consumed by characters” or “occasional prayer mentioned”, I shouldn’t need to tell the world that I have characters of various shades of skin color inside. Contemporary suggests the world we live in and my world has beautiful colors.
What do you think about labels? Do we go too far? Not far enough?