Friday, July 24, 2009

Racist Accusations are Like Celebrity Deaths: They Tend to Occur in 3s

How's this for unfortunate kismet? Less than a week after we posted our long and spiraling screed about White readers' hesitancy to buy books outside their Caucasian comfort zone, Publishers Weekly is running a story about the controversial 'White face' cover art to Justine Larbalestier’s upcoming novel, Liar. The book, about a Black tomboy with short, “nappy” hair, has inexplicably (yeah, right) been given a cover featuring...a White girl! Making a bad situation worse, the book's publisher, Bloomsbury, has issued the following, ridiculous bit of PR spin: "I do think it’s going to raise awareness of race in teen literature to new levels. Clearly, our striving for ambiguity with this cover, and for it to be interpreted as a ‘lie’ itself didn’t work for everyone. But again, if this jacket proves a catalyst for a bigger discussion about how the industry is dealing with its books on race, that’s a very large good to come of this current whirlwind."
Uh, Bloomsbury? No. You effed up. Big time. Now's the time to bite the bullet, admit you messed up, and print new covers. You still have two months 'til the book hits shelves.

Oh, and the literary world's 3rd racist accusation/occurrence of the week? Boston's finest and their arrest of author and Harvard professor, Henry Louis Gates Jr. -- for 'breaking into' his own house!