Hi all, it’s Christa! It’s hard to know where to start with this week’s news, but let’s just get the bad out of the way first.
The CanLit Trash Fire Continues to Burn
If you don’t live in Canada, you may not be familiar with the current ongoing literary controversy. The short version is, back in 2016, Canadian author Steven Galloway (The Cellist of Sarajevo) was fired from his position at University of British Columbia after a former student accused him of sexual assault. In response, a number of major Canadian authors (including Margaret Atwood and Joseph Boyden) signed an open letter calling for an independent investigation and “fairness” for Galloway. The ‘UBC Accountable’ letter has felt like a dividing line in the relatively small community of CanLit ever since.
This week, Zoe Whittall, author of the Giller nominated book The Best Kind of People, added her voice to the discussion with a piece in The Walrus entitled “CanLit Has a Sexual Harassment Problem.” I personally thought it was a solid survey from someone inside the CanLit community, who was seriously and honestly addressing some of the issues currently facing said community. However, since yesterday the story has been taken down, with only a short message about the need to further fact-check left as an explanation.
Whittall has commented that the piece will be back up, but at the moment it’s hard to feel anything but discouraged that instead of trying to address these issue and make the community a better place, there are just more and more walls going up.
Until then, I encourage you to go follow Whittall on Twitter. I also leave you with this tweet from Kevin Hardcastle that pretty much says it all.
the Atwood UBC Accountable op-ed, riddled with half-truths & flat-out imaginings, roams free while @zoewhittall's piece takes a bullet from some lawyers. pretty clear who's manipulating the #CanLit narrative, & it ain't close to an even playing field. where you at, PEN Canada? pic.twitter.com/gJsxUB8bxd
— Kevin Hardcastle (@KHardcase) February 6, 2018
‘The Hate U Give” Actor Dropped From Movie and by Agency
While we’re talking about holding people accountable… not long ago a video surfaced of actor Kian Lawley making some “racially charged” remarks. Lawley was scheduled to appear in the upcoming adaption of Angie Thomas’ YA novel The Hate U Give, but earlier this week the studio announced that his role will be recast and that his scenes will be reshot as needed. The release date for the film has yet to be announced, but since filming wrapped last November, this decision seems to be following in the footsteps of Sony’s move to replace Kevin Spacey in All the Money in the World.
Additionally, CAA, Lawley’s agency since 2015, has announced that they will no longer be representing him going forward. I think this is the right move from the studio, especially given the themes explored by Thomas’ story.
It felt like everyone had a new imprint to announce this week.
Scholastic announced that they will be launching a new narrative, nonfiction imprint. This imprint, Scholastic Focus, will aim to “to provide middle-grade and young adult readers with thoroughly researched, beautifully written, and thoughtfully designed narrative nonfiction that will help them make sense of the world, its history, and their place within it.” The first books from Scholastic Focus will launch this fall and include stories of D-Day, a WWI prison escape, and the 1873 massacre at Colfax.
DC Comics announced not one but two new imprints aimed at young readers – DC Ink, which will focus on young adult audiences and DC Zoom for middle-grade readers. A number of best selling YA and middle-grade authors are already attached to write some of the initial titles, including Danielle Paige (Dorothy Must Die), Laurie Halse Anderson (Speak), and Meg Cabot (Princess Diaries).
Last but certainly not least, Rick Riordan, author of the bestselling Percy Jackson series, announced that he will be launching is own imprint (Rick Riordan Presents) at Disney. The goal of this imprint is to support POC who are writing stories about the myths and folklore from their own cultures. You can read all about the first three books on Riordan’s website. They all sound incredible, but I’m particularly excited for Yoon Ha Lee’s Dragon Pearl about Korean fox spirits in space.
National Book Award Goes Global
The National Book Award has announced that starting in 2018 they will be recognizing books in translation. The award will be open to living authors all over the world as long as their book has been published in the United States, and the award will be shared between the author and the book’s translator.
This is a significant change for the National Book Award, considering it was created more than 50 years ago to “to celebrate the best of American literature.” Hopefully, this change will introduce a whole new group of authors to American readers and contribute to the much-needed diversification in publishing.
46 Books by Women of Color to Read in 2018
Speaking of diversifying publishing – to help get you started on your 2018 reading lists, I want to leave you with Electric Literature’s list of 46 Books by Women of Color to Read in 2018. I personally can’t wait for The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu, Bury What We Cannot Take by Kirstin Chen and The Ensemble by Aja Gabel. Which ones are on your list?