The first major book for writers to more effectively engage with complex socio-political issues—a critical first step in creating social change

Product Code: 3182
ISBN: 9780807046494
Format: Paperback / softback
Publisher: Beacon Press
Pages: 240
Published Date: 10/04/2022
Availability:In stock
Price: $19.95

Writers are witnesses and scribes to society’s conscience but writing about social issues in the twenty-first century requires a new, sharper toolkit. Craft and Conscience helps writers weave together their narrative craft, analytical and research skills, and their conscience to create prose which makes us feel the individual and collective impact of crucial issues of our time. Kavita Das guides writers to take on nuanced perspectives and embrace intentionality through a social justice lens. She challenges writers to unpack their motivations for writing about an issue and to understand that “writing, irrespective of genre or outlet, is an act of political writing,” regardless of intention.

The book includes essays from a fascinating mix of authors, including James Baldwin, Alexander Chee, Kaitlyn Greenidge, George Orwell, Roxane Dunbar-Ortiz, Gaiutra Bahadur, Jaquira Díaz, and Imani Perry. By including Das’s own perspective and those of the featured writers about motivations and approaches to writing about fraught social issues, this book both demystifies the process of engaging social issues on the page, and underscores the intentionality and sensitivity that must go into the work.

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Foreword,by Mira Jacob

Chapter 1 Why We Write: Interrogating Our Motivations for Writing About Social Issues
  • “Why I Write,” by George Orwell
  • “Autobiographical Notes,” from Notes of a Native Son,by James Baldwin
  • “Ellaji and Lakshmiji,” by Kativa Das

Chapter 2 How We Are All Connecred: Understanding the Relationship Between the Writer, Reader, and Subject
  • “Tramp,” by Kavita Das
  • “Jyoti’s Rainbow,” by Kavita Das
  • “Black and Blue,” by Garnette Cadogan
  • “Football, Free on the Streets,” by Garnette Cadogan

Chapter 3 Diving In Deep or Casting Wide: Considering Context Versus Narrative to Shape Our Stories
  • “Red Ink of Revisionist History,” by Kavita Das
  • “Selective Perception of Disinformation,” by Kavita Das
  • “Introduction: This Land,” from An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
  • From “Fear” in Breathe: A Letter to My Sons, by Imani Perry
  • “How Could I Write About Women Whose Existence Is Barely Acknowledged?” by Gaiutra Bahadur

Chapter 4 Writing from Outside In or Inside Out: Reporting, Personal Narrative, or a Hybrid Approach
  • “COVID-19 Vaccine: What White Conservatives Can Learn from Black Americans,” by Kavita Das
  • “A Virulent Privilege,” by Kavita Das
  • “La Otra,” adapted from Ordinary Girls, by Jaquira Díaz
  • “The School-to-Prison Pipeline Is Getting Worse for Black and Brown Girls,” by Jaquira Díaz
  • “99 Years After the Tulsa Race Massacre, an Artist Reflects,” by Crystal Z Campbell

Chapter 5 Staking a Claim: Writing Opinion Pieces (Op-Eds)
  • “The Anti-Vaxxer Threat amid a Pandemic,” by Kavita Das
  • “Tolerance Has a Fatal Flaw. This Is the Solution,” by Kavita Das
  • “Stories of Transracial Adoptees Must Be Heard—Even Uncomfortable Ones,” by Nicole Chung
  • “The Specter of Caste in Silicon Valley,” by Yashica Dutt

Chapter 6 Are You the Right Storyteller for This Story?: Understanding Cultural Sensitivity and Avoiding Cultural Appropriation
  • Introduction and Conclusion from White Negroes: When Cornrows Were in Vogue . . . and Other Thoughts on Cultural Appropriation, by Lauren Michele Jackson
  • “Who Gets to Write What?” by Kaitlyn Greenidge
  • “How to Unlearn Everything: When It Comes to Writing the ‘Other,’ What Questions Are We Not Asking?” by Alexander Chee
  • “Who Gets to Write About Whom: Examining Authority, Authenticity, and Appropriation in Biography,” by Kavita Das

Chapter 7 Ripple Effects of Making Waves: Implications (Good and Bad) of Writing About Social Issues
  • “Writers Shouldn’t Romanticize Rejection,” by Kavita Das
  • “Recovering My Fifth Sense,” by Kavita Das
  • “There Is No One Way,” by Alice Wong
  • “Stepping on a Star,” from We Wear the Mask: 15 True Stories of Passing in America, by Gabrielle Bellot

  • Conclusion
    Recommended Resources
    About Kavita Das, Author
    About Mira Jacob, Foreword Writer
    About the Contributors
  • "Brilliant! A must-read for anyone who cares deeply about social and political issues and wants to make their own voice heard. Kavita Das’s Craft and Conscience aims to bring out the inner activist in your writing—whether you’re an emerging writer or an established one—by showing you how to articulate your motivations, by showcasing essays from masters of the genre, and by analyzing what forceful, well-thought arguments are made of." —Laurie Gwen Shapiro, author of The Stowaway

    "An instructive guide for writers hoping to move the needle, Craft and Conscience gathers some of our best contemporary writers, like Alexander Chee, Kaitlyn Greenidge, and Nicole Chung, while Kavita Das's steady voice introduces prospective writers to critical writing in our dystopian era." —Matthew Salesses, author of Craft in the Real World: Rethinking Fiction Writing and Workshopping

    "For writers seeking guidance on how to write about social justice with compassion and insight, Das curates an eclectic mix of essays by authors who’ve long contemplated the immense struggles facing humanity, while proffering a thoughtful way of bearing witness to the world that can help them get there." —Tanaïs, author of In Sensorium: Notes for My People and Bright Lines

    "Kavita Das’s book is part how-to, part call to action. It is 100 percent lyrical and passionate and will resonate with anyone who is compelled to share and transform narratives that reflect the world. Filled with prose and practicality from some of the greatest writers and thinkers of our times, Craft and Conscience feels like the action plan we always intend to put in place after our fiery salons, dinner parties, and community gatherings. It is more needed than ever." —S. Mitra Kalita, founder and publisher of Epicenter NYC and cofounder of URL Media

    "In Craft and Conscience, Kavita Das constructs a vocabulary, a methodology, and an ethics for socially engaged writing, while bringing together a staggering range of writers and issues. In the process, Das makes a profound and compelling argument for why this kind of writing matters and the radical, transformative power it holds. This book has restored my faith in the written word." —Lacy M. Johnson, author of The Reckonings

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