Featured Image: Cover painting for The Cloud Roads by artist Matthew Stewart
In my recent readings through the fantasy genre I have realised that there aren’t that many books with non-human people as the main characters or protagonists. Illustrated books from my childhood often had protagonists like bears, cats and rabbits.1 It is also much easier to find non-human characters in comics and manga, etc. I recently finished reading a beautiful graphic novel The Tea Dragon Society with very diverse characters, and tea dragons, and barely a human.
But what about prose novels with non-human protagonists for adults? While there are a lot of urban fantasy and paranormal books with people who are shape-shifters and halflings, and beings like vampires, werewolves, fairies, demons and so on, the characters or creatures like these often spend more time as human, or have very human-like cultures,2 and are often obviously based on western mythology.
Some humans might point out that books are mostly written by humans,3 therefore it is only natural that a majority of them would have a human point of view. Others may needlessly like to point out how mythological and fantastical creatures are imaginary and fictional, forgetting the fact that we are talking about fiction books here. On the whole, I believe there should be more diverse viewpoints as everyone would benefit from them.4 Only perspectives that are different from our own can help us change our thinking and worldview. And books with non-human characters also allow a chance for the portrayal of humans from different perspectives. Perhaps at the very least they may generate more tolerance and empathy for people of ones own species.
Here is a small list of favourite non-human protagonists from my own hoard of books Continue reading “On Books with Non-human Protagonists”