Do we write to entertain, to inform, or to reflect, or something else? Do we want to entertain readers and leave it at that? Or do we want to entertain while weaving our story around an issue? An example, Jodi Picoult, who manages to hit on a throbbing nerve in society, puts her research team to work, then crafts a weighty contemporary novel to challenge readers. (I have unfinished novels that tackle issues such as whale slaughter, Afghanistan and rape, but I don't have Jodi's research team, so progress is a little slow, lol! One day...)
I confess I read about a hundred books in a year (sleep is over rated), and my tastes are eclectic. But my favourite kind of book in whatever genre is one that challenges me, one that exposes an issue, maybe not ripping open Pandora's Box, but one that makes me think. There are a wealth of writers who do just that--Jodi Picoult (current issues), Paulo Coelho (spirituality), Emma Donoghue (female sex slaves), Caroline Overington (families ruined through Social Services), John Green (living with a terminal illness) -- and many, many more -- please add to the list in comments!
I just finished a book that left me breathless. I could hardly talk for the day or so that it took me to immerse myself in A Marker to Measure Drift by Alexander Maksik. This book is haunting and haunted. It left me staring into space when I finished; that indicates the sheer power of this story. A story that Maksik was confident enough to write, to show us that bad things happen to good people and good people either survive or they don't. It deals with many issues, but a major focus is homelessness.
The narrator, Jacqueline, is a young girl who has escaped from the horrors of war in Sierra Leone. On a holiday island in the Aegean Sea she fends off starvation. She builds a home of sorts in a cave overlooking the ocean, balancing the will to live with the crushing guilt of surviving when so many didn't.
Here is a small excerpt which invites us to consider food from a homeless person's POV:
"Jacqueline hadn't eaten since the flattened chocolate bar she'd found on the step of the pharmacy. God's will, her mother said. The fortune of finding food when it was most needed just when she didn't think she could stay upright any longer, here was food.
She watched the man slicing meat...could see him painting the bread with oil. There were tomatoes and onions. She watched him roll and wrap them with wax paper, and hand them across the counter with cans of Coca Cola. The smell of the meat, the smell of thyme and the grilling bread as it blew.
She watched the tourists waiting in line. She watched the bits of meat falling to the ground, the sandwiches thrown away half eaten. What it took for her not to stand up and cross the square and dig for food.
But she was not beyond pride, so instead she ate the chocolate bar and tried to appear happy and bored.
You must not appear desperate."
Thanks to the team at IWSG. Go here to read more posts for IWSG.
Meanwhile, please note the new prompt for Write...Edit...Publish -- A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words. Use a favourite picture as a writing prompt. You can sign up here in my right-hand sidebar or visit WEP.