I cannot think of a writer who could have made a better case for fiction’s power to transcend stereotypes and identity politics than Elif Shafak. Next time I pitch a Greek book to a foreign editor, I will make sure I use her wise words:
“We’re born into a certain family, nation, class. But if we have no connection whatsoever with the worlds beyond the one we take for granted, then we too run the risk of drying up inside. Our imagination might shrink; our hearts might dwindle, and our humanness might wither if we stay for too long inside our cultural cocoons. Our friends, neighbours, colleagues, family — if all the people in our inner circle resemble us, it means we are surrounded with our mirror image.”
“We tend to form clusters based on similarity, and then we produce stereotypes about other clusters of people. In my opinion, one way of transcending these cultural ghettos is through the art of storytelling. Stories cannot demolish frontiers, but they can punch holes in our mental walls. And through those holes, we can get a glimpse of the other, and sometimes even like what we see.”
Image: courtesy of TED.