Multiculturalism In Fiction

I was fortunate to grow up with a great deal of harmonious diversity around me as a child. Just in grade school and high school alone, I had peers who were Iranian, Scottish, Kiwi, South African, Peruvian, Filipino, German, French, Greek, and Chilean. And that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head!

I’ve since tried to pick up a smattering of Cantonese from a Chinese friend (I’m told I’m awful at it), and I practice my Spanish when I can (sadly, I’ve lost a lot). My German is limited to one sentence and a few words, mostly name-calling.

The benefit to all this diversity, of course, is the sheer variety. That can really fire an author’s imagination. Since I write a lot of sci-fi, I have a blast creating my own cultures. Often times, I’ll have some crazy inspiration in my head, like, “If I cross a Brit with Indian background with an Aztec, I’ll get…” That’s the freedom of fiction.

We’re so global these days that there’s a lot to choose from as far as inspiration. If we’re this diverse on this planet, just imagine if and when humans go intergalactic.

2 responses to “Multiculturalism In Fiction

  1. Fiction is such a great way to reflect our own ideas for a better world, including a world where multiculturalism thrives, where all people coexist peacefully not in spite of their differences but because of them. I live for a world where “tolerance” is a dirty word and “acceptance” is the way things are.

    Writing my next novel (still on the drawing board because I’m on deadline for THIS one!) is a huge crash course in a new culture for me because the extent of my multicultural experience growing up was learning to speak Spanish along with all the people who looked just like me.

    P.S. I hope this shows you my Twitter account address/username!

    • I agree, Emily. In a way, writing fiction is like playing SimLife. You get to create your own world and the lifeforms inhabiting it. As people who deal in written language all the time, we authors should be aware of how different languages affect how we think. Just the order in which a language uses the word “I” can tell you a lot about how the speakers perceive the world.

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