Others: crowdfunded book to fight hate

A professor at Durham is editing a book, Others, via crowdfunding. The explicit goal of the book, compiled of writing from prominent authors like Noam Chomsky, is to fight hate and raise funds for refugees–the proceeds will be donated to Refugee Action and Stop-Hate UK.

The argument is that literature can help the reader to walk in others’ shoes and understand others’ points of view…basically the empathy argument that I’ve blogged about before…so the book is meant to pack a double punch as far as its goals. Of course, I find this interesting as an unequivocating purpose of literature to change attitudes and open minds. But I do have a few questions…

  • Who is going to read the book? Will it not be people who are already devoted to the ideals that are being encouraged? Not that this doesn’t mean it won’t have a positive effect anyway, but maybe not on the people who need it most…
  • Does the funding method also mean that people who can’t afford to donate won’t be able to read it…?
  • What will writing for this book be like? Will the authors write as they always do, or will they be worried about whether their offerings are appropriate for the book…are relevant enough? (I’m sure we’ve all encountered otherwise worthy authors stumbling when trying to write fiction for a particular purpose.)
  • Getting a bit more philosophical, what does this whole thing mean? What does it say about the monetary value of writing, or of books, or of fighting hate…? What does it say about why people write, or why people read? What does it say about social media and personal persona-building when this gets retweeted (by people like me)?
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