Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Penguin flap

Stumbled on an old, in web terms at least, story in the Guardian about Penguin's 70th anniversary list of titles. There's a little controversy because the publisher had very few authors of color on the list celebrating the company's history. In particular, James Baldwin and Chinua Achebe are not included.

Part of the Penguin executive's explanation is that because those authors haven't sold very well, they weren't included, or even considered.

Is this corporate snub even worth acknowledging? How much does it matter if Baldwin or Achebe are on this list? In one sense it is probably more true to the impact their writing had for them to be excluded from the list - who wants to be on the man's list, anyway?. And their kind of outsider status helps explain why the sales aren't in the same league as a contemporary, less political novelist. And were authors like Baldwin and Achebe on the list, would their titles get the kind of boost as the other books?

It would have been nice to see if they garnered more sales. I'd love to hear thoughts on this - post away.

Karibu in B'more
Karibu Books is opening a store in Baltimore - and the Sun has a feature on the store and new location.

1 comment:

Danyel said...

Hm. I don't know which I'm tripping off more: the fact that Baldin and Achebe weren't included, or the fact that that "they don't sell well" in the UK. On the flipside, though I'm also wondering who else Penguin has published who's not on the list. And on the other flipside, I wonder, like you, if they would not benefit from being a part of this celebration. This one hurts like a paper cut. Hurts a little, but it fucking bothers me.