Tuesday, June 26, 2007

"The Unbearable Whiteness of Publishing"

It's not my title, I swear.

Check out this great observation from Bella Stander over at "Reading Under the Covers":
"The bigger picture is that the publishing industry is overwhelmingly white. Don't believe me? See the photo above for Exhibit #1. That's Book Promotion 101 workshop alum (and Harvard man!) Baratunde Thurston, my perennial date for the Saturday Book & Author breakfast, holding a spot for me in the endless line (more about that in another post). Every year we joke about how easily I'll be able to find him in the crowd; every year the joke gets less funny."

And EditorMom, Katherine O'Moore-Klopf, chimes in with another great inquiry:
"How skewed are the worldviews presented in American books if most of the authors who get published and most of the publishing professionals who work on those books are white and if authors of color who do get published see their books placed in ethnic sections in bookstores? And how do we make it possible for more writers of color to be published by the big publishers? How do we make mainstream book publishing more accessible and desirable as a career to people of color?"

Saturday, June 23, 2007

An Observation

This may already be out there somewhere as a point to note, but I just have to comment. I just finished reading this NYT bestseller cover-to-cover at the very enthusiastic recommendation of a friend I meet up with at the local Starbucks each morning.

Now, if you plan on reading "Something Borrowed" by Emily Giffin, DON'T READ any further because I'm going to spoil it by going into the details of the plot. You've been warned.

Okay. Girl (maid of honor) carries on affair with fiance of her Best Friend--complete with sneaking around, lying, backstabbing, manipulating--you get the picture. But Best Friend is also cheating with guy Girl is loosely dating but only pretending to be interested in to keep Best Friend off the scent of the affair she's having with her Fiance. Best Friend gets pregnant with guy's baby, but pitches a fit when she discovers affair between Maid of Honor and Fiance.

Now, this was the first book of an unknown, and it hit The List, labeled and marketed as chick-lit because its author is snow white. What if Emily Giffin was black? Would "Something Borrowed" have been categorized as chick-lit? Would Emily Giffin's debut novel have been likely to land on the bestseller list and be the runaway success that it and its sequel are?

I think it's a legitimate question. AA relationship fiction is often criticized as being "soap opera" material, but when "soap operas" are penned by a white author, it's good chick-lit.

When was the last (or first) time you saw a black author's debut novel land on The List when the characters do nothing but bed hop?