Dear Sarah and Polly, My WIP is an MG fantasy set in my home country, Kuwait. Members of my critique group have all flagged this as an issue because Arabic names are hard to remember. There’s also the fact that even among #OwnVoice publications, most stories are set in North America or the UK, usually with half-American or -British protagonists. I wonder if having a Kuwaiti setting would hurt my chances of representation? Should I try a fictional one instead? I could even come up with neutral-sounding character names that don’t belong to a specific culture. Thank you for your time and attention.
I think you should stick with your own culture, if choosing that setting feels most comfortable for you. Also, I’m a student of Arabic so have a particular interest in the language. 🙂 It’s impossible to say how well the story will “travel” for American/British audiences without taking a look, but I wonder if you might consider including an American or British character alongside the Kuwaiti ones if that would make it feel a bit more “approachable” for a non-Kuwaiti audience?