Well, my three days at DIK are drawing to a close and today I'm going to be a little more serious about names.
One thing I've noticed about reading m/m books in particular is that there are often names that I have never come across in my daily life in the UK. Names like Javiar, Angelo, Esterban, Pablo, etc, etc. You see the link here? Yes, these are all Hispanic names, and as the Hispanic population in the UK is next to nothing, we just don't get those sort of names here. Yet these names crop up an awful lot in m/m romance because the Hispanic population of the USA is very large.
What we do have are a large number of Muslim, Sikh and Hindu people. In fact, did you know that one of the top ten baby boys names in the UK for 2009 is Mohammed? I live near the city of Bradford which has a very large Asian population (and by Asian I mean Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi, not Oriental) and in my time as a teacher I came across many unusual names such as Afsad, Said, Amar, Aktar, Kumar, Tariq, etc, etc. And yet, there are very few m/m books which feature Asian men with Asian names - unless they are historicals set in the Middle East.
Now there may be a few reasons for this:
1. There isn't such a large population of Asians in the USA and therefore writers don't put them in their books.
2. Islam is a bit of a no-go area for m/m romance - in which case what about Hinduism or Sihkism?
Breaking off here to mention that there is an interesting storyline going on in EastEnders (a British soap opera) at the moment where a married Muslim man - Sayed - is having a gay love affair with another man. There are lots of issues around this, especially to do with infidelity, but also because he is Muslim. I don't watch EastEnders (far too depressing for me) but I have been keeping an eye on this storyline through the media.
3. Asian names are confusing and difficult to know how to sound out. It doesn't seem to stop authors using Oriental names which can be just as difficult to know how to pronounce.
4. Asian men are just not too attractive to us lily white westerners. Erm... really?
OK, I admit that last point was only there so I could show some seriously sexy pics of Asian men :).
And now I've completely lost the thread of what I was saying.....um......oh yes! Asian names.
So do you think that authors ought to write more Indian or Pakistani men into their books? Is it the names and the association with Islam that puts off authors? More and more there are books set in the UK, where there is a large Asian population, and although I can think of a few stories where secondary characters have been Asian, I can only think of one short story by GS Wiley where one of the main heroes was Asian. Or maybe I have a bad memory and you can point out a few I may have missed.