Wednesday, June 6, 2012

On Race and Book Reviews

It's been a while since I've done a blog post about the state of things regarding race and publishing. The reality makes me tired and I'm busy and can't afford to be tired. It can make me depressed and I sure can't afford to get depressed. Plus, I feel like I've said what I had to say on the subject.

Fortunately, there are others not so tired. For example, Roxane Gay decided to take a look at race and book reviews, specifically at The New York Times. The analysis reveals what most of the readers of this blog probably suspect. The Times, they are not really changin' so much.

From her article published by The Rumpus:

"The numbers are grim. Nearly 90% of the books reviewed by The New York Times are written by white writers. That is not even remotely reflective of the racial makeup of this country, where 72% of the population, according to the 2010 census, is white. We know that far more than 81 books were published by writers of color in 2011. You don’t really need other datasets to see this rather glaring imbalance."

Hopefully these numbers will encourage review outlets to be more inclusive in reviewing books—considering race, gender and let us not forget sexuality or other brands of difference—rather than treating diversity as a compartmentalized issue where we can only focus on one kind of inequity at a time. Such mindfulness is important. If we want to encourage people to be better, broader readers, that effort starts by giving readers a better, broader selection of books to choose from.
But go read the whole thing. Look at the pie chart. The sad, sad pie chart. Like Gay, I sure don't pretend to have all the answers, but clearly one is to shed light on the situation as Gay does here.

In related news author Jennifer Weiner (mentioned in Gay's article) shouted out this blog at BEA this week and posted her speech on her blog.


Doret said...

Damn that chart is very sad. Carleen I am tired right alone with you.

On the upside I cam currently reading The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln by Stephen Carter. It comes out in July, so far I am very happy I decided to read it.

And picking up by library hold of Home by Toni Morrison tomorrow.

Carleen Brice said...

Funny, I was thinking of Stephen Carter when I got the email notice of this comment. Great minds! I spoke to a group of high school educators last week and handed out a list of resources for them including your blog URL. You do good work over there!