Jenny Zhang interviewed at Electric Lit
The other thing is when we encounter something unbelievably horrifying, our impulse is to verify it really happened or to dismiss it. When I was writing about, say the abject poverty that many immigrants experience, sometimes my peers at Iowa would look at me askance and imply or even say outright, “But you don’t look like someone who has suffered much.” I hated giving in to their demands that I make my suffering visible in order to have the right to write about the things I write about in this book. That isn’t to say anyone can write about anything and expect to be rewarded. It’s not that I think crude and vulgar depictions of poverty by someone who has never been poor should be read with an uncritical eye, but I do want people to engage on the level of my writing, not on the level of who I appear to be.