Hello Ms. Gay,
Thank you for your article. I agree that Gurba’s essay is important and necessary.
Since you mentioned Cummins, I was wondering if you could comment on the below:
- Nell Zink’s Mislaid, and on another level, the high-grade opportunism with which she participated, involved in accessing Jonathan Franzen as a form of cronyism in order to establish oneself when her books couldn’t sell on their own ‘merit.’ She brags about her advances, obtained after spending a few weeks writing a book and then begging Franzen to promote it, talks about shopping at Lululemon — premiere shop for the suburban liberal Karen convincing herself that being nice is a proper substitute for addressing racism — and continues to flaunt her free ride while apparently convinced that she is a ‘good’ writer.
What greater cronyism is there than white women hitting up famous white men when their books lack quality?!
Why is it that certain women get away with this behavior — and their opportunism disregarded — while others are placed under a microscope?! Is there a different kind of cronyism operating here? And if so, why? Why is Zink any less accountable for white cronyism than is Cummins?
2. Lionel Shriver’s Mandibles. How is it that a white woman can get away with putting a black woman on a leash in her book?! Not to mention her Mexican president who leads America into economic disaster. Why are white WASPS still allowed to write whatever they want and get away with it?! Isn’t anybody addressing the dismal quality of the writing and the profound plop-into-the-lap of reward that these women enjoy?!
I pick these two for specific reasons: they seem to think that slapping the word ‘satire’ indiscriminately on whatever words end up on their pages after a few weeks of writing can fix a lack of quality and, perhaps most importantly, an utter lack of insight. When that doesn’t work, they hit up rich, established white male WASPS to do the work for them while simultaneously criticizing white men for exhibiting the same behaviors.
I agree with you re: Cummins but am still baffled as to why these others aren’t receiving the same criticism. Can the word ‘satire’ really compensate for poor quality?!
At the very least, let’s hope that in addition to NOT receiving well-earned criticism, they don’t also start earning rewards or nominations for ‘good’ writing. It would be a travesty to witness that, given the massive amount of POC writing that never sees the light of day.
Hopefully, that atrocity of literature — giving prizes and awards to people not earning them — doesn’t follow suit for white women the way it has for white men.