Roxane Gay Pulls Forthcoming Book From Publisher in Response to Bigot Milo Yiannopoulos' Book Deal

Bad Feminist author Roxane Gay is playing no games with white supremacists like Milo Yiannopoulos. Gay made the decision to pull her forthcoming book How to Be Heard from Ted Book, a Simon & Schuster imprint, following the news that the publisher signed Yiannopoulos to a $250,000 book deal.

Gay has zero interest in doing business with a publisher that would give a platform to a man who is the proud face of the alt-right movement. Buzzfeed reports that Gay asked her agent, Maria Massie, to pull her book last weekend. “I can’t in good conscience let them publish it while they also publish Milo,” she told Buzzfeed. “So I told my agent over the weekend to pull the project.”

Simon & Schuster received rightful backlash when news broke about Yiannopoulos’s book deal. On Monday, S&S’s CEO Carolyn Reidy sent a letter to concerned authors assuring them his book would not contain hate speech. An excerpt from Reidy’s letter claims the publisher doesn’t condone hate speech yet they’re A-ok giving a white supremacist a book deal. Makes sense. From the letter:

First and foremost, I want to make clear that we do not support or condone, nor will we publish, hate speech. Not from our authors. Not in our books. Not at our imprints. Not from our employees and not in our workplace.

When Threshold Editions met with Mr. Yiannopoulos, he said that he was interested in writing a book that would be a substantive examination of the issues of political correctness and free speech, issues that are already much-discussed and argued and fought over in both mainstream and alternative media and on campuses and in schools across the country. Threshold Editions, like all our imprints, is editorially independent. Its acquisitions are made without the involvement or knowledge of our other publishers. In considering this project, the imprint believed that an articulate discussion of these issues, coming from an unconventional source like Mr. Yiannopoulos, could become an incisive commentary on today’s social discourse that would sit well within its scope and mission, which is to publish works for a conservative audience.

That public statement wasn’t enough for Gay to stay. From her statement to Buzzfeed she recognizes this as a privilege most writers don’t have.

When the announcement about Milo’s book first came out, I was relieved because I thought I didn’t have a book with Simon & Schuster and tweeted something to that effect. Then I remembered my TED Book and that TED is an imprint of Simon & Schuster. I was supposed to turn the book in this month and I kept thinking about how egregious it is to give someone like Milo a platform for his blunt, inelegant hate and provocation. I just couldn’t bring myself to turn the book in. My editor emailed me last week and I kept staring at that email in my inbox and finally over the weekend I asked my agent to pull the book.

Though TED Books and Threshold are vastly different imprints, they both reside within Simon & Schuster and so I guess I’m putting my money where my mouth is. And to be clear, this isn’t about censorship. Milo has every right to say what he wants to say, however distasteful I and many others find it to be. He doesn’t have a right to have a book published by a major publisher but he has, in some bizarre twist of fate, been afforded that privilege. So be it. I’m not interested in doing business with a publisher willing to grant him that privilege. I am also fortunate enough to be in a position to make this decision. I recognize that other writers aren’t and understand that completely.

The New York Times bestselling author has had a remarkable last couple of years with the success of Bad Feminist, joining the Marvel team to create World of Wakanda, her novel An Untamed State being turned into a movie with Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & BasketballBeyond the Lights) at the helm and the number of other pots her writing hands are in.

When your writing (she’s also a professor) affords such a comfortable life your activism can be loud and disruptive. It’s an honorable thing to do, but writers shouldn’t have to be put in this position all because Simon & Schuster made the poor decision to pay a white supremacist to write a book.

How to Be Heard was scheduled to be published March 2018. There’s no doubt Gay will have absolutely no problem finding another publisher willing to pick it up because her winning streak is too hot to be halted.


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