Book Beat: A Place for Wolves, Pullman’s Secret Commonwealth, and Serial Box/Marvel Collab

Hello, lovely readers. Long time no see! Welcome to this week’s Book Beat, brought to you by your book editor Paige. As always with my weeks, the latest news starts with a pretty serious controversy in the YA world. But we do have some fun new books coming, both from a prolific author and a cool digital book platform. So, let’s get down to business and check out all that’s going on in the book world!

An Ill-Advised Terrorism Subplot Taints Queer YA Debut

As a former frequent reader of fanfiction, I know that sometimes the plots can get a bit ridiculous. Like they can get downright offensive, actually. I’ve seen far too many Slave-Master Romance AUs to last me a lifetime, thank you very much. Yet sometimes I thought I would never encounter such blatantly offensive events in traditional publishing. Silly me, of course. A few weeks ago, we had The Cape Doctor misgendering fiasco. And now, we have a gross mischaracterization of the Kosovo War in Kosoko Jackson’s debut novel A Place for Wolves.

Jackson’s debut stars two queer non-Muslim characters falling in love against the backdrop of that devastating war. Early reviewers noted that the novel uses the conflict for the emotional suffering of its main characters and not the actual historical victims. Even more damning, A Place for Wolves utilizes an Albanian Muslim as the central villain of the plot, an incredibly insensitive decision considering this group suffered from ethnic genocide during the war.

In response to this criticism, Jackson initially went onto a private Facebook group to ask its members to bury the bad reviews.

Once this was discovered, however, Jackson apologized and asked his publisher to pull his debut prior to its April 2019 release. I honestly don’t know what to say about all this, except express my weary disappointment. We all have our personal biases to overcome, and we owe it to each other to do so. The publishing industry has a responsibility to do so as well. Jackson’s publishing team is in just as much fault as he is for this plot. The time for systemic changes in this industry is long overdue.

Philip Pullman Returns With A Secret

In better publishing news, Philip Pullman is back with another installment in his The Book of Dust trilogy. The first book was La Belle Sauvage, which introduced us to the baby Lyra just as she becomes orphaned. Now, in October we will read the rest of Lyra’s journey in The Secret Commonwealth.

This next novel takes place 20 years after La Belle Sauvage and seven years after His Dark Materials trilogy. Happily, Pullman fans will get reacquainted with their old favorite fictional universe, but perhaps not for the better. Pullman states in The Guardian that “The Secret Commonwealth tells the continuing story of the impact on Lyra’s life of the search for, and the fear of, Dust. I found it intriguing and deeply exciting to discover how great events can turn on a little moment, and how revenge can be nurtured and fed and watered till it grows beyond control.”

Penguin Random House Children’s managing director Francesca Dow additionally compares the book to dystopian narratives like The Handmaid’s Tale and Never Let Me Go, as The Secret Commonwealth “shows us a darker parallel world whose troubles echo our own.” This definitely seems like a favorite theme of authors as of late, and honestly? Sign me the hell up, I’m so ready for this ride!

Let’s All Marvel at Serial Box’s New Superhero Collab

Traditional publishing may reign supreme, but there are lots of new media publishing books in exciting ways. Serial Box is one such new book media, a digital platform that allows you to either read or listen to books in 10-16 episodial chapter installments. The company was founded in 2005 by former Penguin Random House digital director Molly Barton and co-founder Julian Yap, and it has steadily grown in popularity. And now, Serial Box is about to experience a big boost in readership thanks to a recently announced collaboration with Marvel Comics.

The upcoming Serial Box novels will star Marvel characters like Black Panther, Jessica Jones, Black Widow, and Thor. Their stories will be developed by numerous well-known creators, who so far we know includes Alex de Campi, L.L. McKinney, Aaron Stewart-Ahn, Brian Keene, Jay Edidin, and Yoon Ha Lee. These tales will also be original stories that may or may not be connected as a self-contained universe. Either way, what an exciting new endeavor for everyone involved!

Out This Week

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi
Era of Ignition by Amber Tamblyn
Dealing In Dreams by Lilliam Rivera
Deaf Republic: Poems by Ilya Kaminsky
Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds
Long Live The Tribe Of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden

Happy Thursday!

Paige Allen

Paige Allen

Adult-in-training by day, queer geek of color by night.