Who Can Write About What? A Conversation With Roxane Gay and Jay Caspian Kang

When does creative license become cultural appropriation? Take “American Dirt” and “The Help,” two books by white authors that drew criticism for their portrayals of characters of color. Artists’ job is to imagine and create, but what do we do when they get it wrong?

To discuss, Jane Coaston is joined by the Opinion writers Roxane Gay and Jay Caspian Kang. Roxane is an author of multiple books, including “Hunger” and “Bad Feminist.” Jay is a contributor for The New York Times Magazine and writes a twice-weekly newsletter. In their work, both have thought deeply about the thorny issues of writing across identities — including what makes work authentic, the pressure of representation for writers of color and the roles social media and the publishing industry play in literary criticism. “I don’t think it’s that complicated,” Roxane says. “It’s not that we divorce identity from the conversation. It’s that we treat it as inherent because we can’t separate out parts of ourselves.”

Mentioned in this episode:

(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.)

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