Bloomsbury Will Rejacket Justine Larbalestier's "Liar"
In a stunning turnabout, the publisher Bloomsbury will put new covers on both the hardcover and softcover versions of Justine Larbalestier's novel "Liar," after massive internet outcry over the fact that they were trying to sell a novel about a black girl with a picture of a white girl on the front.

Here was the original, ridiculous cover:

And here's the new cover:

Instead of apologizing, of course, Bloomsbury issued the following communique to Publisher's Weekly:

"We regret that our original creative direction for Liar -- which was intended to symbolically reflect the narrator's complex psychological makeup -- has been interpreted by some as a calculated decision to mask the character's ethnicity. In response to this concern, and in support of the author's vision for the novel, Bloomsbury has decided to re-jacket the hardcover edition with a new look in time for its publication in October. It is our hope that the important discussions about race and its representation in teen literature continue. As the publisher of Liar, we also hope that nothing further distracts from the quality of the author's nuanced and accomplished story, and that a new cover will allow this novel's many advocates to celebrate its U.S. publication without reservation."

I fear for Justine Larbalestier. You ever see a bitter, violent adult get caught publicly abusing their child? They will admit they were wrong and fall on their knees in public, but then you turn to look at their kid, and you see that the kid is now even more afraid for their lives. And you realize: these "adults" may do the right thing when people are watching, but then later, when it is just the two of them, the humiliations and anguish of the parent will be released tenfold on the poor, defenseless youth.

We got the news about Bloomsbury's turnabout from publicist Russ Marshalek, who had this analysis of Bloomsbury's decision over at "Creative Loafing":

"Basically, Bloomsbury got called out, and they're undertaking a massive expenditure to set it right. Ideally, this will open a dialogue that extends beyond just the realm of publishing to a place very real where race still plays a giant factor: the book shelf."

For now, we commend Bloomsbury's wise and sensitive decision, no matter how expedient. But now let's see if Bloomsbury can't start publishing some more black writers, too. Maybe get some black editors?

Hell, maybe even some black cover artists?

Posted by miracle on Fri, 07 Aug 2009 10:24:29 -0400 -- permanent link

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