All the recent controversy about American Dirt has sparked an ongoing debate about who has the privilege to write about a culture. Does one have to be a member of a particular racial/ethnic/religious group, etc., in order to represent it in words?
I feel strongly not. I’ve read a number of books where all the characters check the same demographic boxes as the author (for example, young, privilege white boys at a private prep school), and they are almost universally dull and myopic. I credit authors who represent people unlike themselves. During my career, I’ve purposely written from the POV of women, African-Americans, gay people, and most recently Native-Americans. That is one of the great challenges in fiction: to take on the perspective of another.
To deny authors that right, even if they come from a privileged group, is to reduce all fiction to thinly veiled auto-biography.
The question should not be whether an author is entitled to depict a particular person but whether they did it well.
As to American Dirt, I haven’t read it yet and can’t comment on its success in that regard, but I respect the effort.