Readers Are the Resistance

Wandering through the Tribeca Barnes & Noble today, I came upon something surprising in these repressed cultural times. The publishers of the maligned and protested American Dirt have stuck by their author, as has Oprah’s book club.

Not only that, but a store employee who likes the book is not afraid to say so.

Of course I’m not saying anybody should like this novel or buy it. But imagine letting readers decide, rather than giving into pressure from activists who are out for nothing more than to silence the people they dislike and the points of view they’re afraid to contend with.

Power to the readers.

Je Suis Charlie, Redux

Yesterday, Flatiron cancelled the remaining 35 appearances of a 40 city book tour for American Dirt author Jeanine Cummins. Cummins will return to the road later to conduct a series of town halls. What I find worrisome is that Flatiron cites threats made against the author and booksellers for motivating its decision. Publishers Weekly also reports that critics of the novel have received threats and been harassed as well.

It seems there are thugs and extremists on all sides of the issue and while I will not give them moral equivalence, I think that any threat of violence around the publication or sale of a book is just a short step away from the fanaticism that motivated the Charlie Hebdo massacre in 2015.

We should be having heated, passionate and sometimes even impolite fights over fiction, but violence should never enter into it.

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