How much politics do you want in the novels you read?
Poets, fiction writers, essayists, and other artists have long been at the forefront of protests against unfair regimes, laws, and negative cultural practices. They still are being censored, imprisoned, and killed. So, I find it hard to protest against the increased amount of political discussion on writers’ sites these days. I suppose if a reader stays within a specific genre or group of authors and mostly reads their material, this increase in politics might be less noticeable. I see it because I’m always searching for writing news sites for information for my author’s page on Facebook.
On that page, I provide four-to-five links a day about recent book news. But my sources are becoming more and more political and making that harder for me to do without politizing the page. That is, I’m finding less information about new releases and author interviews and writing tips, and more information about authors’ views about present-day politics. If I link to such articles very often, I’ve become a political site rather than a books and authors site.
I applaud writers who speak out even if I don’t agree with them. But speaking out is good! Let’s face it, my Florida Folk Magic Series of three novels speaks out against the KKK and the Jim Crow laws of the 1950s.
Let’s face it, politics in the United States at the present moment is–for want of a better analysis–a fractured, polarized mess. It’s natural for writers to speak out about it. Even so, many readers turn to fiction and poetry for entertainment, the discovery of new ideas, and to experience their love of words. I really think some, perhaps many, of those readers do not want the worst of the daily news embedded in every novel and poem they read.
I tend to avoid political books that focus on the current moment because I don’t want to pay $25.00 for a book that contains the same stuff I see on the daily news and that will be out of date in a few years. Even my favorite writers have to wait for the Kindle or mass market paperback versions of their novels to come out before I buy them. As a writer, I think that “too much” current politics dates a novel and makes it unlikely to be read five years from now. So, I’m not going to write a novel about a bunch of people who want to impeach Trump or who want to keep him from being impeached. Stephen King might be able to carry it off, but it’s beyond me, and once Trump is gone, who’s going to read the book?
What about you. Do you look for novels that explore or exploit the current political debates of the day? Or, do you read what you usually read and hope it doesn’t sound like either CNN or FOX news?