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Description - Authenticity and the Public Literary Self: Will The ‘Real’ Author Please Stand Up by Sreedhevi Iyer

This is the first book-length study on how authors of color present themselves in public literary discourse. The study utilizes data obtained from and around exemplary empirical case study participants – Junot Diaz, Madeleine Thien, and Mohsin Hamid. Relevant data includes the case study authors’ Twitter usage and the impact of the digital sphere in author self-presentation. Dr Iyer employs a combined theoretical framework of discourse analysis and interactional sociolinguistics, with an awareness of literary and creative writing studies. The theoretical approach uses four metapragmatic stereotypes regarding what constitutes an ‘authentic’ author. The theoretical approach and metapragmatic stereotype form an evaluative framework that can be applied on diverse data to replicate findings.

The study originated from the author’s own exposure to prevailing literary discourse through public engagements as a writer. She became aware of the problematic nature of an author’s public self-presentation, with a requirement to ‘be yourself’. Each celebrity author of color faces a paradoxical positioning within literary discourse as a result of that requirement. Through her study, Dr Iyer sought to discover how authors of color negotiate themselves in public spheres, including digital social media platforms, in order to accomplish ‘authenticity’ discursively.

This book is ideal for learners and practitioners in creative writing who are seeking strategies for self-presentation as published authors. It is also valuable for researchers in discourse analysis, including literary discourse and social media discourse, providing an empirical means of evaluating ‘authenticity’ as understood in contemporary times.

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