All but one of the following books is recognised as among the greatest works of fiction of all time:
A: Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austin
B: A Farewell To Arms, by Ernest Hemingway
C: The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
D: The Transgendered Lion and Xer Non-Binary Autistic Human Companion, by Mohammed Al Jihad
Which is the odd one out?
You would be correct if you answered D. Regrettably, Al Jihad’s marvelous opus is not included in any list of the so-called ‘great works of fiction’. It is to our great regret and shame that dead white authors still occupy such lists instead of up and coming writers like Al Jihad.
We must therefore ask ourselves: what could Al Jihad have done ‘better’ in order to earn the acclaim he richly merits? Apart from being a white male of course, we might add snarkily.
Perhaps he could have created a great sexual tension between a rich but flawed white male and a fragile, married cis-female. This certainly worked well for Fitzgerald with the blatantly heterosexual Gatsby and Daisy. Maybe Al Jihad would have succeeded if he had included landed gentry in his story. Jane Austin did this successfully, over and over again, with working class people relegated to minor roles (read domestic slavery) in her books which unashamedly promoted a patriarchal society as the desired norm. Finally, a fierce lion could well find itself as the central protagonist in a celebrated Hemingway book about hunting; however, a transgendered lion would certainly not as it would not be considered ‘butch’ enough for Hemingway!
OK, we admit that The Transgendered Lion … has not been published. Or even written. But, this is beside the point – why on Allah’s green earth has such a novel NOT been written?
Conservatives argue hatefully that ‘market demand’ for a book exploring the imaginary friendship between a transgendered lion and a non-binary AND autistic human is likely to be low. They claim that few readers could possibly empathise with either of these two central characters because ‘most people’s’ world-views are at odds with those of the protagonists.
We disrespectfully disagree on both counts. In the first place, market demand can be created by allocating government spending on education to where it is most needed. It would be quite simple, and indeed socially desirable, for the government to require studying ‘The Transgendered Lion‘ to be part of the national curriculum. Secondly, initiatives such as the common core and the infiltration of progressive ideas in media, government and education in recent years mean that our youth is ready to embrace diversity in literature like never before.
All we need now is for Mohammed Al Jihad to get writing!