Last January, Amélie Wen Zhao posted an ecstatic message on her website: Her debut young adult fantasy novel, “Blood Heir,” had sold to a major children’s publishing house in a three-book deal after a heated auction, and was scheduled to be released in summer 2019.
“I AM GOING TO BE A PUBLISHED AUTHOR!!!!!!” she wrote.
But a year later, her nascent career has stalled, after some critics, who read early review copies of the novel, denounced the book as blatantly racist.
This week, Ms. Zhao announced online that she was pulling the book because of objections that readers had raised over the novel’s depiction of slavery.
“It was never my intention to bring harm to any reader of this valued community, particularly those for whom I seek to write and empower,” she wrote. “As such, I have decided to ask my publisher not to publish ‘Blood Heir’ at this time.”
Ms. Zhao’s publisher, Delacorte Press, supported her choice to cancel the book’s June release, but did not urge her to. Delacorte still plans to publish the three books she is under contract for, including “Blood Heir” if Ms. Zhao decides she wants to release it at a later time, according to a company spokeswoman.
“We respect Amelie’s decision, and look forward to continuing our publishing relationship with her,” Random House Children’s Books, Delacorte’s parent company, said in a statement. Ms. Zhao was unavailable for an interview, according to her publisher.
The controversy surrounding “Blood Heir,” and Ms. Zhao’s swift and dramatic decision to withdraw the work just months before publication, has further fueled a skirmish in the world of young adult literature over racial representation, diversity and cultural appropriation.
The debate over Ms. Zhao’s novel echoes previous scandals that have erupted in recent years over representation in children’s and young adult books, as publishers have had to delay, cancel and even withdraw and pulp books that became lightning rods for online criticism.
In 2016, a picture book titled “A Birthday Cake for George Washington” was withdrawn from stores after critics complained that it glossed over the horrors of slavery. A similar scandal engulfed the 2015 picture book “A Fine Dessert,” which depicted an enslaved mother and daughter hiding in a cupboard and cheerfully licking a bowl of batter clean; the author, Emily Jenkins, apologized and donated her earnings to We Need Diverse Books, a nonprofit that promotes diversity in children’s publishing. In 2017, Laura Moriarty’s dystopian novel, “American Heart,” was savaged, months before its release, by readers who said Ms. Moriarty had peddled a “white savior narrative” in her depiction of a future America where Muslims are placed in internment camps. Harlequin Teen delayed publication of Keira Drake’s fantasy novel, “The Continent,” after readers blasted it as “racist trash,” “retrograde” and “offensive.” Ms. Drake and her publisher, Harlequin Teen, apologized, and Ms. Drake rewrote the book, removing and revising some passages and character descriptions that readers had flagged as racially offensive.
Children’s book publishers have grown increasingly cautious when acquiring books that deal with charged subjects such as race, gender, sexuality and disability. Many publishers and authors now hire “sensitivity readers” who vet books and identify harmful stereotypes.
“When any author is writing outside their own experience, we want to make sure they’ve done their homework,” David Levithan, vice president and publisher of Scholastic Press, which regularly seeks advice from sensitivity readers, told The Times in 2017.
[Read about the growing trend of sensitivity readers.]
Edith Campbell, a reference librarian at Indiana State University who blogs about young adult literature, said readers’ ability to instantly weigh in on social media has forced publishers to confront the lack of diversity in the industry, and made it impossible for publishers and authors to ignore complaints when a book promulgates racial or other stereotypes.
“This is one of the few ways that publishing has evolved into the 21st century, by having to listen to people’s immediate reaction to what they’re publishing,” she said.
Shelley Diaz, a former reviews manager and young adult editor at School Library Journal, said “Blood Heir” and other young adult fantasy novels that deal with slavery often deserve extra scrutiny from readers because the stories are crafted for an impressionable young audience, and praised Ms. Zhao for responding to critics.
“Some people in the community have found things that were worthy of critique and weren’t handled in a culturally competent way,” she said. “A lot of authors have been confronted with critiques like these and decided to stand their ground and not change anything, but this was a woman of color who was brave enough to say, ‘I hear you, I hear this critique, and I want to bring a better book out to my readers.’”
But some argue that in our hyperreactive online ecosystem, where a tweet or a negative blog post can quickly spark mass calls for a book’s cancellation or a boycott against a publisher, the outrage cycle is often overblown, and can have devastating consequences for young adult authors who are just starting their careers.
Ms. Zhao, who was born in Paris and raised in a multicultural community in Beijing, and emigrated from China when she was 18, had dreamed of becoming a writer since she was in elementary school, according to her website. Her mother warned her it was impractical, so she pursued a career in finance while writing on the side.
On her website, she described how “Blood Heir,” which takes place in a fictional Cyrilian empire where a group of powerful people called Affinites are feared and enslaved, drew on real-world issues, including “the demonization of the Other and this experience of not belonging.”
“As a foreigner in Trump’s America, I’ve been called names and faced unpleasant remarks — and as a non-citizen, I’ve felt like I have no voice — which is why I’ve channeled my anger, my frustration, and my need for action into the most powerful weapon I have: my words,” she wrote on her website.
When Ms. Zhao’s agent, Pete Knapp, submitted the manuscript to publishers, editors swooned. Offers poured in from the five biggest publishing houses, and Ms. Zhao sold the book as part of a three-book package to Delacorte Press for more than 0,000, according to the industry website Publishers Marketplace. Delacorte described it in marketing copy as “the hottest fantasy debut of the summer,” calling it an “epic new series about a princess hiding a dark secret and the conman she must trust to clear her name for her father’s murder.”
After Delacorte sent out advance reader copies, many of the early reviews were positive — the book has a four and a half star rating on Goodreads. But a backlash began brewing this January, when some readers posted blistering critiques on social media. Some readers criticized what they viewed as racial stereotypes and careless borrowing from other cultural traditions: the novel features a diverse cast — including “a tawny-skinned minority of a Russian-esque princess; a disowned and dishonored Asian-esque assassin; an islander/Caribbean-esque child warrior; a Middle-Eastern-esque soldier,” according to Ms. Zhao’s description of the novel on her website.
Others objected to the way in which Ms. Zhao used slavery as a plot device.
“How is nobody mentioning the anti-blackness and blatant bigotry in this book?” one reader wrote on Goodreads. “This book is about slavery, a false oppression narrative that equates having legitimately dangerous magical powers that kill people with being an oppressed minority, like a person of color. This whole story is absolutely repulsive.”
With what seemed like lightning speed in the publishing world, where publicity and marketing plans are crafted months in advance, Ms. Zhao apologized and said she would withdraw the book, which was due out in early June.
In a note to readers, she said she intended to write the novel from her “immediate cultural perspective” and to address the “epidemic of indentured and human trafficking prevalent in many industries across Asia, including in my own home country. The narrative and history of slavery in the United States is not something I can, would or intended to write, but I recognize that I am not writing in merely my own cultural context. I am so sorry for the pain this has caused.”
Rather than calming the social media firestorm surrounding her book, Ms. Zhao’s decision set off another fractious debate about whether she was right to listen to her critics, or whether she had been bullied into scrapping her hard work by an online mob of competitive, backstabbing writers.
“YA Twitter remains a cancerous stain on social media and in life. Woke white women mostly along with ‘concerned’ minority women cyber bully a debuting Chinese author Amélie Wen Zhao to NOT publish her book,” one observer wrote on Twitter.
Others praised her for pulling the book.
“I’m so glad to hear that you’re taking the concerns that were raised seriously and trying to do better instead of getting defensive,” a book blogger wrote on Twitter.
【谁】【都】【无】【法】【否】【认】，【阿】【方】【斯】【的】【演】【说】【充】【满】【引】【导】【性】，【感】【染】【力】【和】【蛊】【惑】【力】，【它】【让】【人】【不】【自】【觉】【怀】【疑】【之】【前】【的】【判】【断】，【同】【时】【对】【他】【产】【生】【同】【情】，【乃】【至】【认】【同】【感】。 【四】【周】【围】【同】【情】【和】【支】【持】【阿】【方】【斯】【的】【声】【音】【渐】【渐】【多】【起】【来】【了】。 【艾】【希】【莉】【娅】【和】【伊】【恩】【在】【他】【们】【中】【间】，【感】【觉】【很】【憋】【屈】，【努】【力】【想】【说】【些】【什】【么】，【但】【是】【一】【时】【之】【间】【整】【理】【不】【出】【思】【路】【和】【充】【分】【的】【逻】【辑】，【且】【他】【们】【其】【实】【也】【没】【有】【充】【分】
“【曲】【文】【君】，【你】【当】【现】【在】【是】【什】【么】【时】【候】【了】？” 【听】【着】【安】【然】【的】【语】【气】，【曲】【文】【君】【有】【些】【不】【明】【所】【以】。 【现】【在】【是】【什】【么】【时】【候】【了】，【别】【说】【只】【是】【写】【下】【两】【个】【男】【人】【之】【间】【的】【情】【谊】，【便】【是】【在】【共】【和】【国】【党】【徽】【下】【同】【性】【之】【间】【的】【婚】【姻】【都】【已】【经】【合】【法】【的】【了】，【更】【别】【说】【这】【书】【里】【写】【的】【不】【过】【是】【一】【种】【抽】【象】【到】【凌】【驾】【于】【现】【实】【之】【上】【的】【感】【情】。 【远】【处】，【人】【群】【围】【起】【来】【的】【地】【方】【已】【经】【开】【始】【了】【签】【售】【过】【程】六喝彩生肖表2016CBA【联】【赛】【已】【经】【进】【行】【了】【三】【轮】，【上】【赛】【季】【仍】【是】MVP【候】【选】【人】【之】【一】【的】【郭】【艾】【伦】【场】【均】【出】【战】34.6【分】【钟】【能】【够】【得】【到】23.6【分】【钟】4.9【篮】【板】5.8【助】【攻】【的】【全】【面】【数】【据】。【本】【赛】【季】【打】【了】【三】【场】【后】【的】【数】【据】【为】【场】【均】32【分】【钟】13【分】2.3【篮】【板】4【助】【攻】，【数】【据】【相】【比】【上】【赛】【季】【缩】【水】【了】【将】【近】【一】【半】。
【若】【非】【对】【她】【的】【印】【象】【不】【错】，【这】【上】【官】【弦】【又】【怎】【么】【会】【记】【得】【住】【她】【姓】【什】【么】，【这】【么】【想】【来】，【是】【不】【是】【上】【官】【大】【哥】【对】【她】【也】【有】【点】【好】【感】【呢】？ 【上】【官】【弦】【道】：“【好】。” 【赵】【初】【月】【垂】【下】【的】【那】【一】【双】【眼】【眸】【里】【的】【爱】【慕】【之】【意】，【他】【自】【是】【看】【到】【的】，【不】【过】【这】【条】【村】【子】【里】【的】【女】【子】【哪】【怕】【是】【再】【清】【秀】【也】【比】【不】【上】【京】【城】【的】【那】【些】【女】【子】，【自】【然】【是】【入】【不】【了】【他】【的】【眼】。 【赵】【初】【月】【将】【上】【官】【弦】【带】【到】【了】【大】【壮】
“【陈】【哥】，【有】【话】【好】【说】，【他】【没】【别】【的】【意】【思】【的】。”【高】【浅】【语】【乌】【鸦】【似】【的】【睫】【毛】【上】【沾】【上】【了】【泪】【珠】，【无】【措】【的】【用】【一】【双】【柔】【美】【的】【手】【抵】【在】【陈】【诚】【的】【胸】【膛】【前】，【无】【力】【的】【阻】【止】【他】【的】【进】【攻】。 【这】【番】【可】【怜】【可】【爱】【的】【模】【样】，【顿】【时】【让】【心】【怀】【鬼】【胎】【的】【陈】【诚】【晃】【了】【神】。 “【哼】，【看】【在】【浅】【语】【的】【份】【上】，【绕】【过】【你】【这】【一】【回】【了】。【你】【们】【的】【事】，【我】【不】【管】【了】，【随】【你】【们】【吧】。” “【陈】【哥】.”
【元】【离】【肯】【定】【不】【会】【就】【这】【么】【死】【了】【的】，【肯】【定】【不】【会】！ 【对】【于】【这】【个】【问】【题】，【桃】【夭】【似】【乎】【无】【比】【的】【坚】【定】，【可】【是】【无】【论】【她】【怎】【么】【坚】【定】【自】【己】【的】【信】【念】，【她】【都】【还】【是】【崩】【溃】【了】。 “【仙】【官】，【你】【再】【想】【想】【办】【法】，【你】【再】【想】【想】，【或】【许】【还】【会】【有】【别】【的】【办】【法】【的】，【他】【就】【只】【是】【喝】【了】【一】【口】【水】【而】【已】，【他】【肯】【定】【会】【没】【事】【的】，【要】【不】【我】【用】【法】【力】【逼】【出】【他】【喝】【下】【的】【那】【口】【水】，【你】【看】【行】【不】【行】？” 【她】【死】【死】