On the radio this morning, an English actress of Indian descent was interviewed about her adolescence, which was spent in the UK. She said the time was marked by struggles to find out who she "really" was, to work out a way of expressing her ethnicity, to cope with the intolerance of the many "narrow-minded" people she encountered... All the familiar ethnic-minority-angst... not that its familiarity makes it any less real or important, of course. Her words made me ask myself - not for the first time - why I have so little interest in exploring such issues in my own writing. I often wonder if I shouldn't take this as an indication that a massive blind spot exists on my psyche. You would've thought that my multi-ethnic background would have compelled me to write pages and pages of racially themed fiction, but that certainly isn't the case. I also wonder if I shouldn't feel angered by the fact that my literary education was firmly fixed on the writing of white people living in western Europe. At school, I didn't study a single novel, play or poem written by a representative of an ethnic minority (I'm sure I hadn't even heard the term at school!) but that didn't bother me then... and it doesn't really bother me now.

But maybe it should. Or maybe I ought to remember that the reason why all the books I studied at school have stayed with me for years is that they ignored the racial make-up of their characters and explored truths which were truly universal. Or maybe I'm right about the blind spot.

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