Your book lists are below. But first, this week protests against systemic racism reached the publishing industry. It’s about time. As someone who writes about and interviews writers, I’m shocked by how few writers of color are published.
That’s not a knock on the non-Black writers who do get published. It’s a criticism of the industry.
We’re trained in the U.S. to believe in us vs. everyone else. If someone gets something, we worry there won’t be anything left for us. In publishing, this manifests with writers competing against each other. If that writer gets a book deal, I may not.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. It can be true that a non-white writer gets published without it meaning a white writer does not. If a publisher says this doesn’t fit their business model, then their model needs to change. There are many small, independent presses and nonprofits across this country publishing books from a diverse body of authors. (I serve on the Board of one, Day Eight.)
We need need more books from diverse authors and poets. And we need to pay them the same as anyone else when we do.
It doesn’t have to mean a white author doesn’t get a book deal if a non-white writer does. It means we need to punch up, change the system. Some ideas for how we can do this:
Buy books written by writers of color
Buy books published by small publishers and nonprofits
Give money to nonprofits supporting our literary arts
Support local bookstores, which don’t rely on algorithms and media campaigns to sell books
There are other ways, too, I’m sure. If you have an idea you’d like to share, you can send it to me by replying to this email. Together, we can broaden publishing and expand the stories we get to discover, read, and love.
Thanks for reading,
P.S. Below are a few links to relevant news from the past week.
An anonymous writer breaks down how few non-white writers make The New York Times bestseller list.
Writers share what publishers paid them, and we realize how great the discrepancy is between what white and non-white authors get.
Poetry Foundation leaders resign after the organization says next-to-nothing about the Black Lives Matter movement.
June & New Book Lists
June’s Most Anticipated LGBTQ Books (Lambda Literary)
New Books for Young Readers (Musing)
12 New Books We Recommend This Week (The New York Times)
Summer Book Lists
Bay Area Readers Share 30+ Great Books to Read This Summer (The Mercury News)
In the Now Book Lists
The Best Non-Fiction Books About Black Culture (Mandatory Reads)
Books on Civil Rights and Race (Jewish Book Council)
16 Anti-Racism Books for Young Children (Insider)
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