Overcoming Misconceptions about Diversity in Fiction

Reader, reviewer, and author Toni Shiloh graciously accepted our invitation to kick off “overcomer week” by sharing her multifaceted perspective on a subject she has patiently and lovingly encouraged numerous online and face-to-face group discussions…


Diverse fiction. It’s something you may have heard a lot lately if you follow bookish news. There has been a big push to shine the light on minority writers and the minority characters that star in their books.

Some believe that it’s not necessary. After all, it’s 2018 and we’re a much more progressive society. We see minorities leading in all forefronts of the entertainment industry. Yet when we take a look at the publishing industry, it seems minority characters are still…well, the minority.

Sure there are household names like Alice Walker (author of The Color Purple), Maya Angelou (author of I Know Why The Cage Bird Sings), and Toni Morrison (author of Beloved). But those ladies—who are definitely pioneers—aren’t representative of the time we live in.

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If you walk in the bookstore and head to your favorite genre, you may not find a single minority. It may lead you to assume there is no diverse fiction or writers who are delving into these genres. You would be incorrect. Often books written by authors of color and featuring minorities are shelved in their ethnicity group (Asian, African American, Latin American, etc).

And for those who wish to read these diverse voices, they may be hesitant to pick up the books. Surely if they are shelved that way, it’s for a reason. Well, yes, but it may not be the reason you think. It’s simply a code that was selected when the publishers began the process to publish the books, landing them in the ethnic shelving versus more specific ones (i.e., mystery, romance, etc). This often gives some readers a misconception that these books are not for them.

That they can’t delve into the world of an African American police detective or fall in love alongside a Latina American woman. But that would be incorrect. Most books written by authors of color celebrate the diversity but tell the story that is genre specific.

Reader friends, let’s overcome our misconceptions of diversity in fiction. I urge you to intentionally seek out the books that feature characters of colors and discover a whole new world. It may expand your knowledge to a struggle you know nothing about. It could help you realize that at our core, we all have the same hopes and dreams. And a huge benefit could be adding more and more favorite authors to your must-read list, because let’s face it, sometimes it seems there’s not enough books to sate our avid reading.

Let’s embrace a reading life that mirrors the diverse world around us. Our empathy and compassion for our fellow man will increase and our perspective will widen. We already know that reading has many benefits, lets allow it to improve our relationships with others who may not look like us or come from similar cultural backgrounds.

Overcome your fear of reading a book that’s not your cup of tea and celebrate the diverse world we live in. Let fiction do its perfect work of transporting us to a different life.

Looking for a few author recommendations? Pick up a story penned by Piper Huguley or Vanessa Riley in the historical genre. Give books by Kim Cash Tate or Belle Calhoune a read for a contemporary setting. Visit the Diversity Between the Pages book blog for more!

Editor’s Note: Make sure you check out Toni Shiloh’s books too! :)

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Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian contemporary romance author. Once she understood the powerful saving grace, thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.