The 'N-word' in literary fiction.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013 at 11:39AM
Freddie Owens in Craft Of Writing, Literary Considerations, Marketing, Racism

I'm excited by a few upcoming events. My book giveaway on Goodreads will begin on the 5th of January and will run for 30 days. I'll be giving away 30 Trade Paperback Copies of Then Like the Blind Man / Orbie's Story and am trying to think of ways to let Goodread members know about it. I've taken out an ad on Goodreads to run concomitantly with the giveaway. That should help. I'm also considering another such ad on Facebook but am not sure yet how I might set that up.  Blah Blah Blah  Anyway, my blood sugar must also be up and coming as I feel something akin to a hissing inside both my ears. Must be the cinnamon rolls I et for lunch, all that candied icing. Yum.

Anyway, the Kindle version of Then Like the Blind Man will be offered for free for five days later this month on Amazon. Since a significant portion of the novel deals with prejudice and race relations in the South, in the '50's, I thought I'd run the freebie during the five days that fall between Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday (the 15th of January) and Martin Luther King, Jr  Day (which is on the 21st of January). I'm thinking I'll need a name or slogan for this promotion, to connect it with Dr. King and the things he stood for. I could advertise it as an event on Facebook. I could say something like, In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and the principles of freedom and racial equality for which he stood I will be offering the Kindle version of my book Then Like the Blind Man / Orbie's Story as a free download, etc etc. I don't want to sound crass however and so, am not sure how to word this exactly. A more succinct ad might read: - Then Like the Blind Man / For The Next Five Days / In Honor of Dr. King / Free At Last! - . Do any of you out there have suggestions regarding this?

Speaking of racism (and how it is dealt with in literature) here's a snippet from an interview (of me) conducted by Douglas R. Cobb on

Douglas R. Cobb: Like the novels of Mark Twain, and ones like To Kill a Mockingbird, you don't shy away from including the use of the controversial and derogatory "n" word in Then Like the Blind Man. To mark an era, and the people who lived in that era, I personally don't see anything wrong with using that word, but other people have a different view on that. Also, Samuel Clemens, I'd argue, used it to illustrate how wrong it was for white people to think that blacks were different than themselves, and lesser than themselves. What's your opinions on the use of this word in literature?

Freddie Owens: I agree with you. It marks the era, and as such is a powerful descriptor - in this case of racial prejudice and hatred, which was important thematically for Then Like The Blind Man. The writing of literature is an art engaged by the artist, the writer. Words are his paints. They can stand alone or be combined to produce different shadings and effects. I would not argue for gratuity in any of its forms whether it be gratuitous sex or violence or the use of the so-called 'n' word. This would be like a painter overusing the color red. It becomes a distraction. It says the artist in question has nothing important to say or that he has settled for putting his ignorance on display. Overuse or wrong use of the 'n' word would be like that. It would be a distraction. It would be racist. The word itself is just a word to be used skillfully or not. To ban it would be akin to racism. It would be racism in another guise. It would be censorship.           

I welcome your comments.

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