We don't want no foreign lands
In a recent post from the literary agent better known as Miss Snark, there was a recent post about a workshop at the recent RWA convention where people brought their first 2 pages, read them aloud in front of 2 literary agents and an editor. The agents would tell them to stop as soon as they found a reason to reject them.
Surprisingly enough, two of the strangest reject reasons (which the agents readily admitted were subjective) were:
1) The story had a dog
2) The story was set outside in a foreign land.
You can read more about it here (And definitely don't miss the comments).
Now, what concerns me is number 2. The more I think about it, the more it makes a lot of sense because the majority of genre novels are set in white bread America featuring "white" characters. At the same time, the more it annoys the hell out of me because this only reinforces the sense of an insular white America to insular American readers. Yes there are great books by Iranian, Chinese, Japanese writers speaking of the human experience in gorgeous ways, but the people who read those are not the great majority whose reading habits are more Dan Brown and Stephen King. By making white America the norm (which it is not), you only serve to exoticize the rest of the world, and by default non-American people.
Hmmm. This bears some rethinking of my writing strategies and goals.