|Renay (renay) wrote,|
@ 2009-07-24 02:05 am UTC
|Entry tags:||books, oops! had an opinion|
The other day I posted about wanting to read Liar by Justine Larbalestier because I like unreliable narrators and to be on top of possible brouhaha in the YA sphere because it seemed odd that a book with a character that was black had a cover with a girl who has white features (I'm not speaking to the model's ethnicity). Larbalestier finally weighed in on the issue and I am kind of heartbroken and want to buy all her books so she will have the money to buy comforting chocolate, or perhaps a punching bag (I would choose the punching bag, but I have rage issues and she might not). Now here's where I get torn. Do I buy the book to support a classy author whose work I enjoy, whose publishers have made a racist marketing decision or not buy the book because of that decision? I don't care how nice they are, I don't care if they rescue puppies and bring lunches to senior citizens, this decision was skeevy. It's tough, though. I don't want to support behavior like this, or this publisher to think it's okay and point to their sale numbers to prove they're right, but I do want to financially support authors writing about non-white characters. Maybe I could just buy the Australian version.
Publishers Weekly has an article about it, and this part got me:
And yet, some readers—and Liar’s editor—are defending the cover, noting that Micah, the unreliable narrator, could have fibbed about her own appearance. "The entire premise of this book is about a compulsive liar," said Melanie Cecka, publishing director of Bloomsbury Children’s Books USA and Walker Books for Young Readers, who worked on Liar. "Of all the things you’re going to choose to believe of her, you’re going to choose to believe she was telling the truth about race?" .... "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."
Please! Give me more of your delicious excuses as to why this decision wasn't filled with gross, slimy stuff covering the underside of a racist publishing system. I am all ears! Man, it is totally fine if feelings were hurt, or non-white people felt badly, or white allies felt angry, or the author was disappointed and let down. It's all okay because it was a learning experience! People will learn and that makes all the bad feelings all right! Except...not the people who need to, apparently. What have you learned, Bloomsbury? Clearly nothing, because instead of reading "we're sorry for pretending that this book cover exists in a vacuum of perfect happy fun times race relations" I just read "it didn't work for everyone". Hell yeah! Pass the buck to the angry, disappointed people. It didn't work because we didn't get your ~~*amazing vision*~~.
To quote KJ who I frothed about this with in IM:
"Would they ever, in a million years, have put someone non-white on the cover when the main character describes themselves as white, unreliable narrator or no?"
Here's a hint: if the author says, "you're doing it wrong!" then you know, you're probably are doing it wrong. It's a wild theory but I think it has teeth. Bloomsbury is acting like we're in some post-racial America where this decision doesn't come with a ton of baggage even beyond erasing the Other; I also wonder how many nonwhite people were involved in making it. Way to go, Bloomsbury. Way to go.