At Best A Visitor, At Worst An Interloper

This month’s theme is (obviously) kicking my butt. To say I’m not prepared is a grievous understatement. Every time I see the blog’s homepage, it’s like I’m a vampire and this is my anathema and it has me hissing and scuttling frantically backwards till my rolly-chair tips over.

This lack of preparedness does not, however, keep me from searching for that theme in the books I’m currently reading i.e. books I can’t help but take my time with. Reading themes into books doesn’t always fit, but it leads to some connections that I haven’t made before. Two, in this case.

First, as Farah Mendlesohn pointed out in her talk at UBC, most fantasies with secondary worlds are, by their narrative structure, othering. Typically, these stories follow straight white heroes *cough-white-saviours-cough* who fulfill some kind of strange colonial dream of “discovering” a new world and sorting out its problems for it. I wonder if there are any books where these protagonists go to a different world and are treated the way immigrants of colour are treated in real places. I’m not saying that they cannot be welcomed without being asked/forced to assimilate, but that’s a bit rare, isn’t it? Plus, maybe it’s a one time move. Most immigrants IRL want to move permanently, but in this hypothetical book what if the portal just closed off and the character had no choice but to stay in the fantasy world? What if the character wants to stay in the fantasy world forever, but is treated as a visitor at best and an interloper at worst? I have no idea how these storylines would work without annoying me and making me quit the book, but I am curious …

I may regret it …

and yet …


Honestly, I think I’m mostly curious because I was reading Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown and came to realization number two. If you a person a colour in a country that is perceived to be predominantly white, even if you aren’t an immigrant, even if you are part of the second or third generation of people who have settled in your country of birth, it is possible you may still be seen as an outsider, a guest who may/may not be welcome, depending on the day. In the case of Zacharias, one of the protagonists of Sorcerer to the Crown, who is a black man adopted by a white upperclass family, he was (I think–still only halfway through the book) born and raised in England. He refers to himself as an English gentleman. And yet, most people see him as the reason why the English sorcerers are having a supply problem, because Zacharias is trying to take over using his African sorcery. Obviously. *ahem* It just seems that at some point, no matter what sacrifices you’ve made (or your parents have made), no matter what mannerisms or sayings you learn (or unlearn), something about you will remain undeniably other. Anyway, I am very interested to see how his story progresses, assuming it does progress. (Pleasedon’tdiepleasedon’tdiepleasepleasepleaseplease.) I’ll probably write about it next month, since the book does have a fairyland and–I hope–fairies.

And that’s all my rambling for this week. Sorry for the lack of recommendations this month. Maybe I’ll do a round-up post next week, of books I should have read this month and probably will read at some point?


*sigh* Hope everyone’s doing well.

EDIT: I misspelt Z’s name. Oops. :/