There seems to be a monopoly on most common advice out there for aspiring authors (Write what you know). Not everyone agrees though (Don't write what you know). But could I write about a culture that isn't my own with the authenticity required?
At this point, all of my WiPs have taken place within the American culture. The only other culture I could imagine trying my hand at would be German. Then again, I don't think I could pull off writing about a character who wasn't at least half-American. Not yet anyways. I've lived in Germany for about 2.5 years now, but I still don't understand the way of thinking which leads my neighbors to stare at me in disapproval when I smile and say hello (we don't really know each other after all). Especially not when every patient entering or leaving the doctor's office waiting room is expected to greet the group of complete strangers both on the way in and on the way out. And if I don't understand something as basic as that, I can't imagine I'd be able to write a whole novel from a German character's point of view.
Some authors have done it though. For example:
BORDER CROSSING is a YA novel about a boy who is half-Mexican, half-American boy living in Texas. The author, Jessica Lee Anderson, lives in Texas but did not grow up there and as far as I can tell, does not have Mexican heritage.
I haven't read these books yet, but the reviews I've read seem to agree on the authenticity each author has achieved with their multicultural stories. I wonder who's judging the authenticity though - native English speakers?
What multicultural books have you read recently and what did you think? Would you ever try (or have you tried) to write from the POV of a culture you aren't a part of?