Don’t Judge a Book by The Author’s Color

I usually don’t post on Wednesdays but I thought this was too important to wait.

While I was driving my car I happened upon an interview with Aimee Phan, the American Vietnamese writer of the 2005 Kiriyama Prize  for her novel We Should Never Meet about the evacuation of thousands of orphans from Vietnam to America weeks before the fall of Saigon.


The CBC interviewer Jian Gomeshi began his interview by saying “We’re told don’t judge a book by its cover but maybe a more important reminder would be don’t judge a book by the author’s color.”

“The editors are the curators, they’re the ones telling the readers what to read and right now writers of colour aren’t making that list,” Phan explains. “These books will actually do wonders if you read them to clear up the misconceptions and give you a fuller, more vibrant picture of a community you may have dismissed before.” 

 You can listen to the entire podcast but if you don’t have time here are some quotes of Aimee Phan from this interview worth thinking about:

In order for the reading public to grow, in order for our interest to grow and progress in literature we need to see new things and try new things.

I think readers need to be more conscious about reading more inclusively.

Literature has a profound potential to influence culture, to how we see each other. and we need to see new things.

What readers’ want is what we’ve been told what they want.

 In an interview with talking writing Aimee Phan states that works by writers of color is by and large ignored by the mainstream media. Few people read literary fiction, and those who do typically turn to critics to discover which books deserve their time. But if those critics are to be believed, few writers of color make the cut.  90 percent of the books reviewed by the New York Times during that time period (2011-2012) were by white writers, leaving a 10 percent sliver for writers of color.

To learn more on Aimee Phan go to


Which books from authors of color have you enjoyed?

Do you think that editors and publishers have too much power in decided what’s good literature?