DiscoverThe Ezra Klein ShowThe Argument: Who Can Write About What?
The Argument: Who Can Write About What?

The Argument: Who Can Write About What?

Update: 2022-08-023


Today we're bringing you an episode from our friends at The Argument, about cultural appropriation in creative work. In recent years, book written by white authors like “American Dirt” and “The Help" have been criticized for their portrayals of characters of color. Artists’ job is to imagine and create, but what do we do when they get it wrong?

To discuss, Jane Coaston is joined by the Opinion writers Roxane Gay and Jay Caspian Kang. In their work, both have thought deeply about the thorny issues of writing across identities — including what makes work authentic, the pressure of representation for writers of color and the roles social media and the publishing industry play in literary criticism. “I don’t think it’s that complicated,” Roxane says. “It’s not that we divorce identity from the conversation. It’s that we treat it as inherent because we can’t separate out parts of ourselves.”


White Fever Dreams” by Roxane Gay in Gay Magazine

The Pity of the Elites” by Jay Caspian Kang

Thoughts? Guest suggestions? Email us at 

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more episodes of “The Ezra Klein Show” at, and you can find Ezra on Twitter @ezraklein. Book recommendations from all our guests are listed at

“The Ezra Klein Show” is produced by Annie Galvin and Rogé Karma; fact-checking by Michelle Harris, Rollin Hu, Mary Marge Locker and Kate Sinclair; original music by Isaac Jones and Pat McCusker; mixing by Pat McCusker; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Kristina Samulewski. 

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The Argument: Who Can Write About What?

The Argument: Who Can Write About What?

New York Times Opinion