It’s almost a week since I met the author Nikesh Shukla. He was a guest at University of Gloucestershire and he spoke to a group of Creative Writing students about his journey in the British publishing environment. An inspiring story. The book he edited and published in 2016, The Good Immigrant (London: Unbound), is considered ‘an important, timely read’ (J.K. Rowling) and, earlier this year, convinced me to continue writing when I was at the point of giving up. Shukla’s project is convincing and relevant at more than one level. And not because he gives a ‘voice’ to a minority.
Shukla places the concept of ‘minority’ (in terms of writing) in relation to craft, ability and potency. In literature, we do not see the writer’s skin colour or accent. The name, as such, should not be relevant either. The only signs which should truly speak to us (and a writer should be judged against) are the words. Everything else is just context. I salute this discourse which shapes our conversation about literature and writing without falling into the trap of politics and polarisation.
Undoubtetly, it is important to look at demographics even if it is for their relevance in regional / national / global economic and infrastructural planning. However, in terms of art, one needs to move beyond this and discuss demography in terms of artistic relevance. In this context, the notion of migration is more fluid and it is not necessarily about statistics like ‘them coming here’ or ‘us moving there’. Migration is a human characteristic; one might call it ‘culturally enhancing activity’ and needs to be considered a natural phenomena. We migrate all the time and the technological development has a great part to play here.
It is refreshing to observe Nikesh Shukla taking this contemporary direction and promoting alternatives. You can read about Nikesh Shukla’s work, projects and books on his website.
©Maria Stadnicka, 2018