I was asked whether I thought that any non-Jewish novelist had ever really nailed a Jewish character, which implied a universality of the Jewish condition that doesn’t exist, a condition of Otherness. For the talky male American Jews of Philip Roth are not the same people as the timid female Marylebone introverts of Anita Brookner. One writes out of deep knowledge of one’s interior world. The something that one has to say is the thing that one knows, but married to that is intense curiosity about the lives of others – about what the person sitting opposite you on the tube is thinking. The origin of fiction is telling a story, about yourself or others. In practical terms we are mostly appropriating, ruthlessly, the lives of our families and our friends, but that’s not the same as cultural appropriation because it has no political freight.
Linda Grant, Whose life is it anyway? Novelists have their say on cultural appropriation, The Guardian 1 October 2016