Neil and Storm on race
I've been immersed in two of my favorite, brand new books recently, and one thing that they have in common is their interesting treatment of race. (Incidentally, they both deal with Love and Loss and Loss of Love and SDL in exemplary ways, as well).

The interesting way that they dealt with race is this: when it is directly pertinent, they mention it, otherwise they give no indication. Fascinating.

Storm Constantine's Wraethu series has black people and hispanic people and white people, as well. It takes place in this post-apoc world, however, in which humankind has evolved into the Wraethu (these bisexual androgynous super-hero things) and have much more important matters to worry about than ethnicity.

Every so often she makes a reference to skin color--she compares one character to a panther, for example--but for the most part those details are unessential. I have no idea where I got the idea that the main character is hispanic... partially from his name (Cevvaro) I guess, and maybe it was mentioned briefly that he was born in South America. I assume that Thiede is white because he has red hair.

Then there is Anansi Boys. In a recent Salon interview, Neil Gaiman says:
    If you look carefully, you'll notice that all the white characters are described as being white. If you're raised in comics, when you go to prose, you think about all the things you can do in prose that you can't do in comics. And one thing is that in comics you can see what everybody looks like immediately. So I thought, I wonder what I can do with that? It's happening in people's heads. I wonder if I can write a book in which almost everybody is black, and play completely fair -- it's not a trick or anything -- but I'm just not going to say "Fat Charlie was a black 33-year-old" because you don't start a book saying "Fat Charlie was a white 33-year-old." You'll have to pick up on cues, and they will all be given.
In the book, Fat Charlie is just another middle-aged English nebbish, who bears a very close resemblence to the main character in Neverwhere. He has a low-paying white collar job that he hates, and he worked hard to lose his American accent and sound English.

I find it fascinting to read a novel in which black characters are not exoticized in any way. There are black gods in the book, and witches who are probably black, although I'm not certain, but Fat Charlie is just an accountant, and his fianceť has an office job somewhere... It's an important plot point for a couple of characters that they come from the West Indies, otherwise it wouldn't have been mentioned.

Someday, gender will be dealt with in the same way.