Diversity and representation are important in media, as we frequently highlight here at The Mary Sue . However, analyzing the privilege white writers have when telling stories about cultures and races that are not their own is equally important. Photographer and Writer Natalie Jacobsen (not the television anchor) recently announced her debut novel, a “Samurai historical fantasy,” slated for publication in Fall 2024. Jacobsen is not of Japanese or Asian descent but stated on her website that she “ jet-set to Tokyo, Japan , where the city acted as [her] main muse for six years.” Since the announcement, she received pushback from writers and readers, including many Japanese American writers. It's 2023, Yellowface came out this year, and yt writers are STILL getting book deals to publish Asian stories and blocking Asian voices to silence their concerns? pic.twitter.com/j3rQA50Q1W In response to the critique, Jacobsen stated she's working with a Japanese American editor, has shown the work to sensitivity readers, and linked a Guardian article about Rebecca Kuang's novel Yellowface. Unfortunately, Jacobsen has made her Twitter account private, making it difficult to tell which Guardian article about Yellowface was the one she was citing, as there were multiple articles that fit that description in May of 2023. However, context clues point to it being either the article about how Rebecca F Kuang rejects idea authors should not write about other races or Rebecca F Kuang: ‘Who has the right to tell a story? It's the wrong question to ask.' Both articles discuss the rights of storytellers to tell stories about races and cultures not their own. The problem is that, of course, Jacobsen appears to have not read or fully understood the articles in question, as while Kuang talks about writers being pigeonholed into only writing about one thing, she also rejects the narrative that it's somehow easier to get published as a BIPOC author now. It's especially ironic for Jacobsen to cite Yellowface to defend herself when the novel is about a white woman publishing a dead Asian woman's work as her own and highlights both “how marginalized authors […]
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