Check any bookshelf of contemporary fiction and you'll see what I mean. Black writers get compared to black writers; Jewish writers to Jewish writers; gay writers to gay writers. According to the publisher's description, my friend Preeta Samarasan's novel Evening Is the Whole Day is "sure to earn her a place alongside Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai, and Zadie Smith." I teased her: a place on the shelf of Brown Women Writers. As someone of Indian descent, Samarasan can apparently hope to become a Bharati Mukherjee or a Jhumpa Lahiri, but not -- say -- a Toni Morrison or an A. S. Byatt. Or an Amy Tan, for that matter.
Well worth a read. I've always found it funny that this is done, because a lot of the writers who get compared to each other have little in common in terms of style and tone, even if their subject matter overlaps: Gish Jen, Sam Chang and Amy Tan are all EXTREMELY different, as are Kiran Desai and Jhumpa Lahiri.