Platform Book Club: The continuing problem with the lack of diversity within fiction

Platform Book Club member Scarlett Acres may not be recommending a book to our readers this week, but here is her outlook on why there is a lack of diversity within fiction.

In 2020 you would think we would have more diversity in books. While it may be better, it definitely still needs some work.

Tiktok. The app that took lockdown by storm (myself included). However, I was a part of the side that not many knew about called Booktok. A side where a collection of readers would review, recommend and laugh about all things books on the app.

However, a huge topic came up when a certain booktoker said she couldn’t read diverse books because she “couldn’t relate”, and was sorry to the people “born in the wrong colour”. Of course, this struck a huge anger from the majority of Booktok.

The community began to call this person out and began to show their upmost support for POC, LGBTQ+ community and people with physical and mental disabilities. This bought along the question of if books lacked diversity or did the reader not search for diversity?

You could argue both.

A key problem with the authors that do try and show diversity, is that it’s usually token diversity – which lacks proper research or effort. An example of this would be JK Rowling who not only lacked diversity in many aspects but what she did do, was extremely stereotypical or not researched enough. This is particularly the case for the character of Cho Chang in the Harry Potter series.

This shows the problem with books lacking accurate diversity, but readers also need to actively look for diverse book recommendations.

As a booktok page, I try to continue to recommend diverse recommendations, but many people blame the lack of diversity with the authors but if they were to use the internet or watch particular pages, they would find diverse recommendations very easily.

This shows that ultimately there is an underlying problem with some of us as readers who aren’t looking for these diverse reads in order to broaden their knowledge and to learn more about these people who are continually marginalised within society.

Therefore, the problem with diversity in 2020 still exists due to token diversity and some readers not looking for these diverse reads. As readers or future writers, we need to research in order to represent all people in the world accurately and to get rid of the lack of diversity in fiction.

By Scarlett Acres

Feature image: The Independent

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