I was astounded to find that one reader recently called my novel, "Irretrievably Broken" chick lit. While my book may be hard to be categorized, it is definitely not that. I'm not disparaging chick lit as I don't mind reading some wonderfully uncomplicated story on a summer day at the beach, be it chick lit or a whodoneit or action adventure. However, my book is not that. Yes, it's a book about love, and yes, it's a book about loss, and yes, it's a book about life and families, and guilt and forgiveness, but it's also a book about race and racism. A book with a Holocaust story at its heart cannot be called chick lit, simply because the main characters are women.
Is Jane Austin chick lit because her protagonists are women? Is Tolstoy's Anna Karenina or War and Peace chick lit? Is Michael Ondaadtje's English Patient or Divisadero chick lit? Is Stegner's Angle of Repose chick lit? Is Styron's Sophie's Choice chick lit? Is Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises chick lit? Is Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby chick lit? Is Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet chick lit?
I'm not equating myself with the giants of literature, but I'm certainly aiming as high as I can and pushing my writing skills to give the reader not merely entertainment, but a soul-wrenching and mind-altering experience. As you read "Irretrievably Broken," observe the character Ruth and ask yourself: Can you save the life of your best friend who is Jewish and still be a racist? Does Ruth change, and if so, what changes her? Can you vote for Obama and still be a racist? Can you be the person who didn't vote for Obama and not be a racist? Those are pretty important questions, not just for those who are African-American or Jewish, Hispanic or Native, Irish, Italian, or German, or whatever ethnic group we count ourselves part of. Let's not forget that we're also part of a larger family, who all live together in this one world that is multi-national, multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-religious. If we like it or not, it's our world and it's getting smaller and smaller.
As global warming is wiping out some tiny island nation as we speak, everyone in this shrinking world of ours needs to be heard. During this holiday season, I am certainly pondering thoughts that go deeper than the themes one might find in chick lit. They're thoughts of race and racism, of family and love, of old grievances and forgiveness, of a new start as the New Year approaches.
Happy Holiday Season!
Irma, author of "Irretrievably Broken"