Editor Chandra Prasad was kind enough to answer some questions about the anthology
Clare Ramsaran (CR) What prompted you to choose fiction for this anthology?
Chandra Prasad (CP) Two reasons! First, as a reader and author of fiction, I’ve always found it easier to connect to characters and ideas in fiction as opposed to nonfiction. Perhaps fiction makes it easier to suspect disbelief and to use my imagination in order to forge personal connections to the text. I think this is true for many people, especially younger readers.
The second reason why I chose fiction for MIXED is that there was simply no other fiction collection on the market. MIXED fills a unique and important niche in the multiracial-themed book sector.
CR: How was the anthology received?
CP: MIXED was received extremely well by critics and readers alike. One of the contributors, Mat Johnson, a prolific and extremely popular author, said he receives more emails about MIXED than about any of his other work. I, too, regularly receive inquiries about MIXED from students, teachers, and others, which I think is testament to the anthology’s relevance and staying power, especially in classrooms. As for critical praise, Booklist, the San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Sun-Times, and many others gave it raves.
CR: What was most surprising when gathering material for the anthology?
CP: I was most surprised by how many of the contributors I contacted instantly said, “YES, I would LOVE to contribute!” I contracted many authors and only a couple turned down the chance to write an original story for this anthology—and those that turned down the chance did so because of time constraints or previous obligations rather than lack of interest. The vast majority of prospective contributors appreciated and championed the idea of a multiracial-themed fiction anthology from the get-go.
“Globally, the number of multiracial people is exploding. The United States alone currently counts at least seven million multiracial inhabitants. By the year 2050 more than one in five Americans will be claiming mixed ancestry. Yet it was only as recently as 2000 that the U.S. Census Bureau began to allow citizens to check off as many racial categories as are applicable. Previously, Americans were allowed to check off only one, leaving multiracial people invisible and unaccounted for.
A greater awareness of multiracial people is underway. Dozens of web sites devoted to multiracial issues have sprung up, and novels and memoirs on the topic have proliferated. In Mixed Chandra Prasad has created the first anthology of its kind, bringing together eighteen stories by both new and noted writers about the experience of coming from a multiracial background.
With contributors such as Danzy Senna, Ruth Ozeki, Cristina Garcia, Peter Ho Davies, and Mat Johnson, and an illuminating introduction by Rebecca Walker, Mixed gives voice to the multiple identities of the rising generation. It also provides some of the most fresh, engaging, and vital original literary fiction in recent memory.”