Well my first two readings were wonderful. I’ll start with M is For Mystery. I’ll admit that I’ve never been to the store before but I guarantee you I will be back to visit in the not too distant future. It’s a charming place and their selection of books is surprisingly eclectic. But mostly it was the staff that impressed me. They are a warm, welcoming and intelligent group of people and I truly enjoyed talking to them before and after the event. The event itself went spectacularly well. For one thing in the audience was Trisha, blog reader and fellow sucias who I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time. For those of you who don’t know what a sucias is (or for those of you who speak Spanish and think that I’m being disrespectful) the sucias are the women who post on Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez’s message board. I also had a couple of friends show up along with a small but nice group of readers who I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time. I was thrilled to see that there was a pretty even mix of both men and women at the event. I love the cover of my book but the bright pink packaging is bound to alienate a large faction of the male market so I am particularly flattered by the praise I get from men who enjoyed my novel.
Then there was the Capitola Book Café. Capitola is right next to Santa Cruz which is my home town. I drew in a huge crowd. Friends, family, teachers who knew me when I was “just this tall,” they were all there to cheer me on. Many of them had already purchased the book before the event but at least 30 of them bought it there. Speaking with me that night was fellow mystery author Denise Osborne who seems like a lovely woman.
So hopefully this weekend will be equally successful. I will be reading at San Francisco Mystery Books at 2:00 on Saturday and at Marcus Books also in San Francisco on Fillmore Street at 6:30 Saturday evening. In addition to that I will be signing at Borders Express at the Capitola Mall between 1 and 3 on Sunday. I am nervous about the readings in San Francisco for two reasons:
1) These are two of possibly four events that I will be holding in San Francisco and while I will probably have a few friends attend each of the readings I doubt I’ll have a lot of people at any one of them.
2) Marcus Books is a Black bookstore and the reception my book has been met with within the Black community has been mixed.
Allow me to explain. Like my protagonist my father was Black and my mother is White of Eastern European descent. I don’t speak in “black slang” I don’t braid my hair, and I only listen to moderate amounts of hip-hop. This doesn’t make me less Black any more than a Sunday school teacher who doesn’t wear a crucifix around her neck is less Christian. But there are those in both the White and African-American community who disagree with me on that point. As far as they’re concerned my father betrayed his race when he procreated with my mother (and vice versa). There are many people within my own race who look at me and see an outsider. It’s disconcerting to put it mildly. People tell me that it seems like Sophie identifies more with her Jewish heritage than her Black heritage. I find this to be a false and disturbing observation. Sophie’s mother is ethnically Jewish but Sophie doesn’t use Yiddish expressions. She doesn’t light the candles on Friday night, in the book we don’t meet any of her Jewish friends (although she does meet a guy at Starbucks that turns out to be Jewish, but it’s a minor point) and at no point during the story does she visit a synagogue. There are easily as many references to her skin tone as there are to her inherited religion and yet people say that she seems more Jewish than Black. Why is that?
The answer is simple: as a society we have come to accept that while there are some Jews who fit the “Jewish stereotype” there are many who do not but for some strange reason we are unable to accept that there may be the same diversity within the African American community. It doesn’t matter how many examples we see to the contrary many people still can’t wrap their minds around it. Worse yet, many people within the community refuse to accept it.
In her book Dirty Girl’s Social Club Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez helped break down the stereotypes that exist regarding the Latino community. She wrote about Black Latinas and blonde ones; rich and poor, Jewish and Catholic, straight and Gay and so on and so forth. I hope that some day the stereotypes that are attributed to African Americans are broken down in a similar fashion and if my book helps bring that day a little closer than I will be one happy Black Jewish woman.
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