1. “I heard about a wonderful manuscript that speaks to some of our western society’s raw wounds regarding racism. Can that story break through the barriers of traditional publishing? Unlikely, given the sensitivity with which publishers approach new books.”

    Not sure which manuscript it was that you were hearing about, but right now Angie Thomas’s THE HATE U GIVE, which deals strongly with that very subject, is #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list for the 2nd week in a row. (See article here: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/mar/26/angie-thomas-the-debut-novelist-who-turned-racism-and-police-violence-into-a-bestseller)

    As far as I’ve seen, controversial social issues are not going to dissuade most traditional publishers — it’s the controversial religious and philosophical issues they balk at. Mind, that resistance isn’t consistent across the board: there’s a strong push in the children’s and YA community right now to publish more Muslim writers, for instance. But since Christians are still viewed as the oppressive, privileged majority in the US rather than a group that lacks representation or sympathetic treatment, there’s no such movement to promote books by and about Christians.

    • RJ, I think you’re right, but only some people can address some issues. A person of color can address racism, but a white person? I doubt it.

      But I could be wrong about my friend’s book. She may self-publish, and then we’ll see how it’s received. But I’ll add, the main point of the story was never racism. It’s just as the climate in the US has become more racially charged, her book speaks to that issue in a way that makes it very relevant.

      Interesting that there’s a push for Muslim writers. I don’t understand that. These publishers, if they are representative, are likely opposed to pretty much everything Muslims believe about culture and society. Yet they’re willing to overlook those differences while holding Christians at arm’s distance. Curious.


      • Ah, but Muslims are still a tiny and much-maligned minority in the US, often portrayed as terrorists and fanatics if they’re included in popular media at all, whereas Christians are seen as a strong and influential majority who are well represented in traditional fiction and don’t need anyone to stand up for them.

        Personally I’d disagree with that, at least when it comes to traditional fiction written in the past fifty or sixty years: growing up in the 70’s and 80’s I would have loved to find even one sympathetic, intelligent Christian character in the general market books I was reading, but only found loathsome hypocrites, credulous fools, and a smattering of liberal theologians whose teachings sounded more like pop psychology than the Bible. It’s nearly impossible to explain the lack of decent Christian representation to non-Christians, though, because there’s still a widespread perception that any character who doesn’t clearly state otherwise is Christian by default. It seems bizarre and irrational to them, perhaps even evidence of some kind of warped persecution complex, that Christian readers wouldn’t see it the same way.

        • Yep, as I read your first paragraph, I was thinking, in what books are Christians “well represented”?

          The thing that also throws me is that publishers are putting out books that most readers won’t identify with. I mean, burkas, sharia law . . . it’s not something most Americans can relate to. So they have to either misrepresent Muslims or manufacture some connection (feeling estranged from the culture, perhaps).

          It just seems like an example of media pressing for an agenda that’s not really meant to sell books but to sell an idea.


What do you think?