Here’s another installment to my Who Tells Our Stories photo / interview series highlighting diverse readers and the diverse stories that represent their identities! Today I’m interviewing Kav about diverse literature and how they connected to the book they have chosen to be photographed with.
(A FULL EXPLANATION FOR THE PHOTO SERIES IS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS INTERVIEW.)
Book title: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Kav’s Review of More Happy Than Not: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1905302621?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1
Can you describe your identity? (Ex: race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, mental illness, disability, body type, or religion, etc.)
My gender identity and sexuality are non-binary/gender-fluid lesbian on the asexual spectrum. I am also an Indian-American suicide attempt survivor with depression and anxiety.
How did you connect with More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera? Are there elements of the story that accurately represents your identity?
More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera is the only book that has ever encompassed my experience as a suicide attempt survivor. There are many positives, in terms of representation in all of Silvera’s work. For example, Aaron, the main character of More Happy Than Not, is a gay Puerto-Rican character, and Silvera always has queer characters of color and/or with mental illnesses as his main characters. However, I have never connected with mental health representation the way I connected with the depression representation in More Happy Than Not. After my own suicide attempt, More Happy Than Not was the book that healed me from that tragedy and whenever I relapse with my depression, I re-read it to see myself in Aaron’s journey.
Are there any other books that you feel represents yourself?
I have seen different parts of my identity in different books. A popular example would be the Indian-American representation in When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, but I have never seen any other book with the same mental health representation as More Happy Than Not.
Do you have any diverse story ideas / tropes that you’d like to see authors write?
Honestly, I just want to see more diverse stories, but I also want to see more stories from marginalized authors. I want more #ownvoices stories. I just want to see more marginalized authors able to get their stories out into the world.
What message would you like to tell others, regarding the importance and need for diverse literature and authors?
Literature can act as both a window and a mirror for people. Some books will have people just like you, and other will have ones with a story completely different from yours. That’s the beauty of literature. The beauty lies in the ability for there to be a variety of stories, by a variety of people, for all people to see themselves in books and to see different people in books. And that’s why the campaign for diversity in literature is so important.
Thank you, Kav, for being apart of my photo / interview series! I’m so glad that I was able to meet you, in NYC, and have you be apart of this series highlighting diverse bloggers and the stories that they have connected with. Your opinions and insight about diverse literature are important to me and others, and I hope others realize that as well. Thank you so much!
PHOTO LOCATION: The Jacob Javits Center, New York, New York
Who Tells Our Stories: A Photo Series Explanation
I was inspired to create a photo series on my Instagram that features diverse readers holding books that represent their identities (e.g. ethnicities, sexualities, race, gender, body types, MIs, disabilities, religions, etc.) in a positive light. I wanted to create this series in order to highlight the need for diversity in literature. I also wanted to show others how diverse novels can positively impact someone who finally feels represented in a way that doesn’t use harmful cliches or stereotypes.
Each photo, in this on-going series, will include an interview with the reader to discuss the need for diversity in literature and how the reader identifies with the piece of literature they have chosen (if they feel comfortable disclosing that piece of information).
I came up with the title Who Tells Our Stories for the photo series because it is a spin-off of the Hamilton lyric “Who tells your story”. Because the Hamilton is such a diverse form of art, I wanted my photo series to reference that striking lyric because we need diverse authors to tell diverse stories in a respectful way. Marginalized readers should be able to see themselves properly represented in literature, and I hope this photo series highlights that need to others.
Want to support the Who Tells Our Stories photo series? Click here to support Stories For Coffee with a Ko-Fi!