Saturday, July 25, 2009

Self Publishing Here I Come

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?”

Protagonist of Colour? What Protagonist of Colour? This book could quite obviously and clearly be about a white girl who lies.

I have read Liar by Justine Larbalestier, that quote above, to me, misses so many points of the book... I would really like to sit down with that individual and find out just what exactly they think Liar is about. Because while I am not 100% pro Liar, because of the narrative style and the hitting of some situations that hurt me when I read it - I can at least admit that it is a story that attempts insight into the confusion of being a teenager, a black teenager, growing into becoming a sexual being with a touch of searching for sexual identity and possibly gender identity.

I may not like how the book did some things. But I do not believe I'm completely in the dark about what the writer was trying to portray. I should hope that if I am missing things, I'm less in the dark than one Melanie Cecka whom doesn't seem to have paid any attention.

“I do think it’s going to raise awareness of race in teen literature to new levels,” said Cecka. “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.”

Because what the book industry needed, what YA literature needed, what it all needed to start a dialogue (because of course one hasn't been going on for years and been particularly loud this year) is a honkey on a cover.

Justine Larbalestier's own words on her disappointment in the cover. Beware many comments trying to make it about all authors and the lack of control in all covers, rather than specifically focusing on how lack of authorial control on covers affects race representation.

I had a moment of pause over 'response to idiots' or 'respectfully disagree'. But I cannot find it in myself to respect the person who made the quoted statements. Why should I respect someone who obviously cannot respect their own author? Why should I respect someone showing disrespect to People of Colour (by putting a white face on the cover aka this is one more book not meant for you).

Respect is earned. Bloomsbury et al have no currency here.

[eta: Silly me. Forgot Verbe Noire. Self publishing is not the ONLY option anymore]