Controversy and Fiction

At any rate, when a subject is highly controversial—and any question about sex is that—one cannot hope to tell the truth. One can only show how one came to hold whatever opinion one does hold. One can only give one’s audience the chance of drawing their own conclusions as they observe the limitations, the prejudices, the idiosyncrasies of the speaker. Fiction here is likely to contain more truth than fact.A Room of One’s Own, by Virginia Woolf

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Connecting through Fiction

Now we all live in some kind of a social and cultural circle. We all do. We’re born into a certain family, nation, class. But if we have no connection whatsoever with the worlds beyond the one we take for granted, then we too run the risk of drying up inside. Our imagination might shrink; our hearts might dwindle, and our humanness might wither if we stay for too long inside our cultural cocoons.

There are so many wonderful pieces to Elif Shafak’s TED talk: experiencing new cultures, expressing oneself in a foreign language, grappling with identity politics. She challenges the idea that authors — especially non-Western authors — have to write about their own identity and culture. Instead, she encourages us to see fiction as a place for imagination, a place for feelings, a place for us to escape our limited social circles and connect across identities and cultures.