May 21, 2013

Fifty Shades of WTF at AWRF 2013

Angela from Readers Services was interested in the Fifty Shades phenomenon and went to see what she could find out at "Fifty Shades of WTF".   Here's her story:

I went to hear New Zealand author Nicky Pellegrino talk with former editor of the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly Sarah Stuart, Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka and New Zealand author Eleanor Catton about the publishing phenomenon known as 50 Shades of Grey.

The BDSM-themed 50 Shades of Grey trilogy by author E. L. James has sold more than 70 million copies worldwide since it was first  published in 2011. Interestingly, it started out as fan-fiction of the Twilight novels by Stephenie Meyer, and E. L. James changed the names of the characters and reworked the story before it was published.

I had read and enjoyed the Twilight series for what it was, but having read the first 50 Shades of Grey book I was annoyed by the obvious similarities, not in plot but in the characters. Thus I was really interested to hear what the panel had to say and I was not disappointed, as I found the discussion informative, thought-provoking and quite amusing at times.

Shehan Karunatilaka had only read the book for the panel and showed us his brown paper-covered copy, which he had been too embarrassed to read openly in public. He decided to look at the book as porn and a fantasy, and from that perspective, he didn’t think it was that bad. Yes, the character of Christian Grey is incredibly unrealistic – ‘a 27-year old gorgeous billionaire, who flies helicopters and plays the piano at midnight’ and the protagonist is a blank slate whom the reader can project themselves onto, but he thought it was perfectly targeted at its audience, just like Twilight was perfectly targeted towards its audience, teenage girls.

Eleanor Catton
Eleanor Catton enjoyed the book much more than the Twilight series, she thought the relationship between the two main characters was a healthier and more adult relationship than that of Edward and Bella in Twilight, which she believed was very damaging.

Nicky Pellegrino, on the other hand, had enjoyed Twilight and the relationship in those books and felt the relationship between Christian and Anastasia in 50 Shades of Grey was disturbing and unbalanced.

Sarah Stuart saw the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon as positive in allowing women to indulge their sexual fantasies. She thought it was great that women were talking to each other about erotica and that it had become acceptable for women to read it and talk about it. It was also brought up that many women over the age of 50, and even of retirement age, were reading it, to the surprise of some.

Overall, the panel surprised me. Except for the moderator Nicky Pellegrino, the other three panelists had generally positive things to say about the book, to the consternation of some in the audience going by the questions afterwards. Some questions referenced the relationship between the two main characters, which mirrored all the warning signs of an abusive relationship as suggested by Women’s Refuge. Another audience member was concerned about the implications for feminism, but Eleanor Catton said that as an author, there’s nothing you can do about how your work is perceived by others, you put it out there and from then on people make their own interpretations of it.

I felt that the panel looked at the book and defended it mainly from an author’s perspective, which is fair enough, as they are authors. It was a very entertaining hour and I was glad to have been there for this fantastic discussion on the publishing phenomenon of 2012.

-- Angela Kitt

Ditulis Oleh : Karen Craig // 18:30


  1. Thank you so much for the wonderful book! I finished it a few days ago and cannot get it out of my head. It is pure magic. It was everything I hoped it would be and much more. Thank you so much....Fifty shades

  2. I loved the book Fifty Shades Of Grey. I am so glad i enjoyed Christian and Ana's story. I like Fifty Shades Of Grey


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