Hello again, dear readers! It’s Emily back again on Book Beat to share some literary news. This week, I’m sharing the latest YA book drama, an update on Canada Reads, and some news from across the pond.
Blood Heir Debut Is Now Postponed
Author Amélie Wen Zhao, whose debut YA novel Blood Heir was scheduled for a June 2019 publication date, has asked her publisher Delacorte to postpone the novel’s release after receiving criticism of the book’s content.
Zhao took to Twitter last week to apologize to those who’d “raised questions around representation, coding, and themes” in her novel. She announced that Delacorte had agreed to postpone publication and explained that she’d written Blood Heir from her own cultural perspective.
“The issues around Affinite indenturement in the story represent a specific critique of the epidemic of indentured labor and human trafficking prevalent in many industries across Asia,” she wrote, adding that she never meant for the story to refer to slavery in the United States.
The decision to postpone publishing received mixed reactions. There were the usual cries of censorship, never mind the fact that Zhao made the decision herself. But there were also acknowledgements of the courage it takes to admit a mistake and attempt to prevent further harm.
The story isn’t quite that simple, however. Apparently, leading up to Zhao’s Twitter announcement, there were rumours of hostility between Zhao and other POC authors and bloggers. One blogger, Paige Cree, even said Zhao was “giving Kathleen Hale vibes.”
Regardless of Zhao’s alleged actions leading up to her pulling Blood Heir, we can at least take comfort in the fact that the publisher was willing to delay the book so close to its release date. Perhaps we can hope that it’ll be a lesson for all involved, and they’ll be more mindful about their actions in the future.
Canada Reads Announces Its Contenders
The Canada Broadcasting Corp (CBC)’s annual book battle has its contenders! The five books fighting for the Canada Reads 2019 crown will be represented by five Canadian personalities:
- Simple Plan drummer Chuck Comeau will defend Homes by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah with Winnie Yeung
- Actor Lisa Ray will defend Brother by David Chariandy
- Television host Ziya Tong will defend By Chance Alone by Max Eisen
- Actor Yanic Trusdale will defend Suzanne by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette and translated by Rhonda Mullins
- Fashion editor Joe Zee will defend The Woo-Woo: How I Survived Ice Hockey, Drug Raids, Demons, and My Crazy Chinese Family by Lindsay Wong
Sounds like an intriguing line-up for sure, but we’ll have to wait until March 25th for the debates to begin.
French Writers vs English Words at Salon du Livre
The Salon du Livre in Paris next month has garnered complaints from dozens of French authors thanks to the use of English terminology.
The Salon is holding a celebration of the Scène Young Adult. It was set to feature “Le Live,” a “Bookroom,” a “photobooth,” and a “bookquizz.” These English terms prompted about 100 French writers to issue a rebuke to the organizers.
“In Paris, in a space dedicated to the book and to literature, is it not possible to speak French?” they asked in a letter published in Le Monde and La République des Livres. “For us […] ‘young adult’ represents the straw that broke the camel’s back,” they wrote. “This use of ‘young adult,’ because it is referring to French literature, because it is deliberately addressing young French people looking for readings, is too much. It has become an aggression, an insult, an unbearable act of cultural delinquency.”
The letter may have already had some effect it seems. Since it was published, the Salon du Livre site has been updated. There’s still a young adult scene, but there are no references to a photobooth, bookquizz, or bookroom.
Out This Week
On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang
Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken
The Waning Age by S.E. Grove