When I write, I see unicorns, fairies and lands far far away. I am a writer of thrillers, because there’s just something about psychopaths and gory murders. Sometimes I tackle the fantasy genre, and I write a couple of children’s stories.
You get the gist, i’m more of a ‘cloud in the head’ type of writer, than the serious, fact-checking, journalist type. That’s why I don’t really feel the need to write about politics and especially not about the topics the world think should concern me.
My parents were born in Tunisia and emigrated to Belgium later on. I was born in Belgium and that makes me a person with a different background. There’s a word for it in the Dutch language, that doesn’t quite exist in any other language (so I was told): ‘Allochtoon‘. So, I looked it up, and couldn’t really find anything that covers the word. The closest thing to it is a non-native citizen or someone who has parents who were born in a different country (and that’s a serious mouthful). Just to make it easy, I’ll refer to it as non-native versus native.
I have noticed that most fiction is written by, Mary, John or Rose. Nothing wrong with that, but I would love to see, Khadija and Ali on the Thriller bestseller-list or Houssnia in the Romance novel section.
The label that has been put on people like myself, changes like the direction of the wind. It’s very regularly and usually unpredictable. It’s very much complicated, and I still have no idea what to call myself. But that’s not what today’s issue is about. Not really.
This article is about writers. Writers with different roots. And what we usually write about.
The thing about having a different cultural background, is that people tend to put you in a box. It’s their way to cope with your ‘diversity’. But once put in a box, it’s hard to come out of one, and you feel like you are stuck playing the same record over and over again. And that has become the norm, even for writing. We are ‘allowed’ a certain genre and we have to stick with it.
It has become a trend to write about ‘non-native-related-issues’, like terrorism, jihad, couscous, curry, discrimination and lamb. I think it’s great that there is a platform for these writings and articles, and I love how ‘our’ people have embraced it.
In this day and age, after a lot of trying, falling and getting up again, we have finally found a place where we can talk about our differences (read: write). And the thing that makes it even better is the fact that the ‘natives’ have accepted those writings. They have embraced our ability to produce worthy scripts. Non-fiction about ‘The boy that fought Isis’, and a stack of poetry about Baratunde’s trip to Africa are amazing. ‘A Jihad of Love’ by Mohamed el Bachiri, is just what the doctor ordered.
But we need more fiction writers. And I’m not saying that because I’m a fiction writer, I’m saying it because I have noticed that most fiction is written by, Mary, John or Rose. Nothing wrong with that, but I would love to see, Khadija and Ali on the Thriller bestseller-list or Houssnia in the Romance novel section. Don’t get me wrong, I love the tales of 1001 nights, and I like those desert vibes, but wouldn’t it be great to see Amira Monira win a Harland Award, or Mohamed get on the best Suspense-list?
It feels like we have been put in yet another box; write about discrimination, segregation, hijab or race, and no more then that.
Should ‘my people’ write less non-fiction? Absolutely not! We need critical exposés. But we also need fiction writers. And we can write more then just about the ‘issues’ that ‘concern’ us. It’s okay to think outside the box. Better yet, set that box on fire.
Fiction is not just for Mary and John anymore, but for Zahra and Bijay, and they can be the next J. K. Rowling if they wanted to.
This article was written by C. Laffet