Sitting at the Bayou Writers' Group Bridge to Publication Conference last weekend, I turned to a friend and asked: "Why don't we have Jewish or Hindu or Muslim romances?"
I had to wonder whether I was missing something. Turns out, as usual, I was. I found an informative article here, that mentioned several novels that could be considered Jewish romance. The article's author did point out that some of the best, in her opinion, didn't meet the RWA standards because they didn't end up with the hero and heroine living happily ever after. I've never been a fan of formulaic writing, so this doesn't bother me. I also came across a familiar title and author: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. Terrific book. Not a romance, but a wonderful story about love, sexual politics, and the fear of women and their power that patriarchal societies give rise to.
Here are some books that sound a lot more like Jewish romances:
A nonfiction book about modern Jewish women writers in America called, oddly enough, Modern Jewish Women Writers in America, sounds like it will end up on my reading list and add insight into the faith and culture and ethnic and feminist writing in general.
There are fewer novels that can be considered Muslim romance. Ayat-Ayat Cinta (Love Verses) by Habiburrahman El Shirazy is one. A 2006 blog post at Yunita Rmadhana Blog, discusses and reviews the novel here. I found sites from which it could be downloaded, but not necessarily in English. Other books based in Islamic culture really don't fit into a traditional romance category, especially religious or inspirational romance. These stories are more complex and intriguing, in my humble opinion, and they don't employ the usual happily-ever-after endings. In addition, these novels touch upon topics such as marital infidelity and same-sex attraction, the existence of which Christian genre writers don't usually address.
I saw the movie version of Brick Lane and loved it. I'm glad to see it was based on a novel I can now obtain and read.
When I searched for Hindu or Buddhist romance novels, I strayed, not surprisingly, even further from resemblance to traditional or Christian romance. I found Buddha's Wife, which sounded wonderful, but it's not a romance. Neither is Hermitage Among the Clouds: An Historical Novel of Fourteenth Century Vietnam by Thich Nhat Hanh, although it does sound like spiritual fiction.
See where attending writers' conferences can lead you? I asked one question. I started thinking, and, as usually happens, started researching and writing. Over the course of the last few hours I've discovered novels I have and haven't heard of and some fiction and nonfiction I want to read, things I'm sure will enrich me and my own writing.