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Jim Jam
Jim Jam
2 months ago

Diversity activists won’t admit they’ve won

Well of course not, because the moment leftist activists admit they have attained their goals they become irrelevant. This is why the ratchet keeps turning, and why society at large is having to endure the effects of their increasingly unhinged prescriptions.

And unfortunately, until more people stand up to their transparently shallow, emotional terrorism the madness will continue apace.

Last edited 2 months ago by Jim Jam
Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
2 months ago

Are there no publishers who seek to publish quality, and consider the sex, sexual orientation, pronouns, ethnicity, etc. of the author to be irrelevant; or would that be considered ridiculously naive and idealistic? It seems to me, the need for the use of pseudonyms is even greater than in the time of George Elliot and Jane Austen.

Last edited 2 months ago by Aphrodite Rises
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 months ago

Indeed. I have heard that Ali Smith is, in reality, a 55 year old white, male accountant. Of course, the one way to overcome all this is to be a Scottish man who writes in an extreme form of dialect. This reminds that the most dispiriting book title I ever saw – in a charity shop in Delft – was ‘Scottish Short Stories Since 1979’. I did not purchase it but I did find, in the same shop, Larkin’s wonderful A Girl In Winter, which I had long sought.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 months ago

Publishing is not an isolated example. This is true in most spheres.
And it not just a trend. These people know to keep the door firmly shut once they are in charge

Last edited 2 months ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 months ago

Yes, but there’s also been a decline in creativity as well. When you don’t let the cream rise, you get sour milk.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 months ago

Perhaps the answer is to require all writers to submit and publish under sex neutral and ethnic neutral pseudonyms so that what should be irrelevant factors in judging the literary merit or sales potential of a novel or poem can be excluded from consideration just as University student’s submissions are anonymous to avoid prejudicial factors intruding into judgement.

Sophy T
Sophy T
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I certainly agree that neutral pseudonyms would be a good idea.
However, I don’t think university students’ submissions are anonymous – I thought it was obligatory for the applicant to state whether he/she had been state or privately educated so that the universities can maintain the quotas.

Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Classical music has run blind auditions for years to remove any influence bias, subconscious or otherwise. When this failed to radically improve the numbers of Musicians of Colour in our great orchestras this process was indeed declared insufficiently anti-racist and moves to introduce quotas demanded.

Last edited 2 months ago by Mike Michaels
Madeleine Jones
Madeleine Jones
2 months ago

One reason why I react so strongly against the progressive nonsense against white straight men in publishing is because of literacy rates. So many boys struggle with English and reading comprehension where they shouldn’t. I’ve seen this dismissed as ‘oh, that’s a girls thing.’ Like, no… reading is a crucial skill. Publishers hardly ever attempt to market to boys and men, even in traditionally masculine genres like fantasy and science fiction. Heck, speculative fiction has been completely gutted to appeal to women.
If you are a man reading this who’d like to publish his novels, I have advice. Consider small or independent publishers (but read any contract carefully). Regional and niche publishers can work, too! Idk about university presses. The most important things are: getting your book reviewed by critics, having your novel submitted to awards, being easy to buy at least online and a straightforward process of selling international / translation rights.
None will have the backing of traditional publishing, unfortunately. But success in creative writing takes a long time, typically. I’d also like to see a Peter Thiel-like figure fund a publishing house or literary agency.
Also, what is the point of the Women’s Prize? A.S Byatt is heroic to me, because she refuses to submit her novels to it. (Btw, Possession is a must read, unlike the overrated recent winner Piranesi)

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 months ago

Of course one of the major problems is that the escape to a fantasy world from current boredom is met much more effectively for boys by video games and visual content from the internet. When I was young this was not available and immersion in the world of Geoffrey Household’s “Rogue Male” or Buchan’s yarns or P G Wodehouse’s strange world was the most accessible escape from tedium.

In addition spelling, sentence structure, grammar and the art of précis are not really taught in school or if they are there seems to be a reluctance to properly correct the pupil’s errors for fear of crushing their spirit. My sons’ work would come back with a few red amendments but numerous errors left uncorrected. Are girls guided more rigorously by women teachers who have given up the struggle with boys? I don’t know not having a girl to make comparison with.

Good to hear of A S Byatt’s stand. While having a separate game in tennis for women makes sense having a separate prize for women in an endeavour where women may even hold some advantage is absurd.

Last edited 2 months ago by Jeremy Bray
Sophy T
Sophy T
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I am learning an Asian language at the moment and my teacher who is a native of the country says a high percentage of most of her lessons are taken up with teaching her British students basic grammar – quite a few of them don’t even know what an adverb is, or subject and object.
Removing grammar from the school syllabus isn’t doing students any favours, especially if they want to learn other languages.

Karen Mosley
Karen Mosley
2 months ago
Reply to  Sophy T

Grammar is back in a bit way. But I learned almost all my grammar through learning French and German at school. And that was in the ‘good old days’

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

“Are girls guided more rigorously by women teachers who have given up the struggle with boys?”
Growing up in a third world country, I am stupified by a couple of things.

Firstly, the above, or rather that boys (especially working class white boys) failing is taken for granted and accepted. Nobody would accept that in India or China, but somehow (largely female) teachers are allowed to get away with “can’t teach boys”.

The second thing that mystifies me is the other side, which is girls not doing STEM and “patriarchy” being used as an excuse “someone once told me girls can’t do maths so now I must do garbage studies”
Nobody accepts that in India or Asia. It’s taken for granted girls can and will do as well in tough, maths heavy courses, and the split in physics or maths courses is much more even than “feminist” western European countries.

Andrew F
Andrew F
2 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

But what does it tell us?
Like one programmer sacked by Google wrote in his assay, in countries where girls have most rights (Scandinavia etc) they are not choosing STEM subjects.
They have other preferences.
Why do we insist that men and women should be the same?

R S Foster
R S Foster
2 months ago

…the sort of publishing under discussion here is most unlikely to appeal to teenage boys…give them a Bernard Cornwell, Lee Child or Patrick O’Brien and they might well read it…especially when you draw their attention to the associated films or box-sets. The aim is to get them reading, and not worry too much about what…

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 months ago
Reply to  R S Foster

The aim is to get them reading, and not worry too much about what
I absolutely agree with this sentiment. I once knew a woman who taught what was known as “general studies” in a tech college, i.e. she taught potential plumbers and electricians. She told me that she has a list of books that were recommended, but found that they sparked no interest in the lads that she taught, most didn’t even bother to read them – she gave them Andy McNab’s books and they came alive. She did recognise that these where not great literature, but as you say it got them reading and gradually she brought in better books; James Lee Burke was a particular favourite, as was Bernard Cornwell, and she managed to get them reading Forester’s Hornblower series. As far as she was concerned she had succeeded because most of “her boys” as she called them (and yes they were all boys then) were now reading for pleasure.

R S Foster
R S Foster
2 months ago

…I don’t know, but I have a feeling that this is an issue confined to “serious” “literary” writing, which actually isn’t much read at all, by anyone…I’m pretty confident Bernard Cornwell is a seventy-eight year old white man…and I believe “Sharpe’s Assassin” has now sold twenty million copies world-wide…
…who cares what a bunch of over-educated “wokesters” are reading, publishing or falling out about? In the end they are mostly talking to each other in some shi-shi corner of Shoreditch, over a decaff oat latte…big, serious, world-changing writers want to be actually read by as many people as possible…not by a tiny coterie of self-obsessed trustafarians that the rest of the population consider a joke…and whose sales are in the handful of thousands…

Last edited 2 months ago by R S Foster
M. Jamieson
M. Jamieson
2 months ago
Reply to  R S Foster

Older writers like Cornwell certainly remain popular. But I would say that this push to diversity is also found in a lot of newer genre fiction where younger writers are concerned. Science fiction and fantasy are the most affected.

Mark Duffett
Mark Duffett
2 months ago
Reply to  M. Jamieson

Yes, this has been apparent from what Goodreads sends me for some years now.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
2 months ago

Oddly enough, when browsing, I rarely glance at the name of the author unless it is given huge prominence on the cover. Whether s/he is a dead white fe/male or a black gay in a wheelchair is a matter of complete indifference to me. Am I alone in this? (Admittedly, I mostly browse non-fiction.)
PS. I sometimes have the impression that there are too many recently graduated young women in publishing houses and that much of this nonsense (including the use of sensitivity readers) comes from them.

Last edited 2 months ago by Malcolm Knott
Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
2 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

I agree. It is the content that interests.

Victoria Cooper
Victoria Cooper
2 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

I’m with you. I don’t know the author or the title nor the introduction or blurb until after I have finished.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
2 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

I’ve gone in the opposite direction. Such is my resentment of woke racist publishing, I now refuse to read any book not written by a white man.

JP Martin
JP Martin
2 months ago

“(…) everyone wants to say they’re hiring for diversity, but nobody wants to be seen as a diversity hire.”

No, of course not. Anyone who has attended an elite university in the USA (and this will include many working in publishing) knows that diversity has become the enemy of excellence. But only Amy Wax dares say this out loud and she has suffered for it.

John Solomon
John Solomon
2 months ago

“If young white men aren’t the hottest commodity right now, it’s not just because publishers have convinced themselves it’s a moral imperative not to hire them; it’s because the industry follows the zeitgeist, and the zeitgeist of the moment is deeply invested in identity.”

And there is the crux of the matter. It’s about selling books – everything else is smoke and mirrors.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 months ago
Reply to  John Solomon

Well they’re not selling them to me because all this became apparent s some time ago so I decided to more or less boycott the publishing industry. The fact is that the novels written by the approved authors are generally rubbish. The only recent exception I can think of is Milkman by Anna Burns, which I loved.

Lennon Ó Náraigh
Lennon Ó Náraigh
2 months ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Indeed. And the canon is big enough that we can keep on reading the classics until the current phase of cultural madness is over, at which point I expect to see a lot of literary detritus in the charity shops and recycling centres.

M. Jamieson
M. Jamieson
2 months ago
Reply to  John Solomon

I have some doubts. Literary fiction at the moment is awful, navel gazing stuff, devoid of ideas, devoid of narrative structure, devoid of anything resembling a story.
I’m not convinced enough people are buying it to make any real money. Aside from the James Pattersons and Nora Roberts, the bulk of what moves through my local library is romance novels, cook books, and self-help.

Christina Dalcher
Christina Dalcher
2 months ago
Reply to  John Solomon

It’s definitely about selling books—books by Child, Grisham, Patterson, Baldacci, King, Clancy, &cet—all of whom make it possible for publishers to take massive risks on whatever those publishers think makes them look good in the eyes of their junior staffers and the public.

Paul Nathanson
Paul Nathanson
2 months ago
Reply to  John Solomon

But if the zeitgeist is ideological, John, then much more than esthetic fashion is involved. For one thing, ideologies are not always ephemeral. Feminism has been a dominant one over the past few decades, for instance, and is unlikely to allow a replacement any time soon–not even from wokism, which has absorbed and incorporated feminist gender theory (adding that to its own very similar race theory)–which is why wokers must now choose between support for feminism and support transgenderism. Moreover, money is not the only factor in this phenomenon. Publishers crave prestige, too, although that is often related to money. And even if it were otherwise, publishers would still fear intimidation by woke ideologues (including feminist and transgender cadres).

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 months ago

Hmmmm. I stopped reading new novels in the mid-nineties. Now I know why.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 months ago

‘Brick Lane’ and ‘Milkman’ are both very good. And ‘Vernon Rod Liddle’ by DBC Pierre.

Last edited 2 months ago by Fraser Bailey
Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 months ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Might give Pierre a go. Pass on the first two suggestions.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 months ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I must confess that I couldn’t get through Milkman. I shall give it another go in about a year’s time. I have found that putting a book aside for a couple of years somehow helps me appreciate it more. Vernon God Little is a good read, the prose is quite muscular and sometimes stuccato, reminding me a little of The Catcher in the Rye in that respect. I haven’t read Brick Lane, I think possible because all the hype put me off, perhaps I should give it a go.

Erik Hildinger
Erik Hildinger
2 months ago

My experience with a novel suggests that Rosenfield is correct about this. Though I’d published non-fiction books before, a novel that I wrote recently was rejected (or ignored) 78 times by agents, but was accepted quickly and published by a small press in the southern United States to which I sent it directly. In an oblique way, the book (an historical novel) deals with current concerns, though not in a fashionable way, and the characters aren’t of the sort currently in demand by the young, east-coast agents.
The conclusion I draw is that the future of novels, unless they deal approvingly with current fashions, most probably lies with small presses and self-publishing, both made practical by the Internet. Perhaps the large east coast publishing houses have more in common with the fashion industry than they’d like to admit.

Last edited 2 months ago by Erik Hildinger
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 months ago

Why does the same not apply in African and muslim countries? The greatest weapon against woke is to use these examples, yet no one does? why?

Dr. G McIver
Dr. G McIver
2 months ago

I can’t bear these woke tomes, so I keep taking comfort in the great Russians.
That doesn’t mean j don’t read books by writers “of colour”. I read as much Egyptian fiction as I can get in English, and I love the books by Haitian Edwige Danticat, British Somali Nadifa Mohamed (sublime!) and poet Jackie Kay.
But in general I’m looking for bigger philosophical thoughts than “identity” which is why I turn to Bulgakov, Pushkin and Dostoyevsky.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 months ago
Reply to  Dr. G McIver

I do quite like reading African writers, I find I can get some insight into Africa as well a a stonking good read. Oyinkan Braithwaite’s fairly recent novella My Sister the Serial Killer was a good little read, as was Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebea, novel now over 60 years old. I read them because they are good writers, not because of their ethnicity, and for their portrayal of cultures unknown to me.

Alphonse Pfarti
Alphonse Pfarti
2 months ago

Oh well. Plenty of novels by dead white men still to read. More than enough to see me through until I shuffle off and join them. Fiction today seems to be written by and for leftist, middle class women and addresses the topics that concern them. That’s fine, but it’s not for me. Publishing houses seem happy to now ignore a potentially large reader base with disposable incomes, so I’ll go to the charity bookshop and find something I like.

As for this: “Maybe it’s that the survival of any progressive movement requires that you continually shift the goalposts, lest your organisation problem-solve its way into obsolescence“

There’s no ‘maybe’ about it.

Last edited 2 months ago by Al M
Victoria Cooper
Victoria Cooper
2 months ago

My experience is that all novelists are left wing and depressed. I won’t read anything now post 1970, except for mystery/crime and even that has gone woke.

Peter Shaw
Peter Shaw
2 months ago

I will only buy books by white male authors on principle because of this racism and sexism.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter Shaw

Same here!

Jack Tarr
Jack Tarr
2 months ago

Needed: A replacement for the publishing industry.
Publishers were essential in the past as printing large numbers of books on spec involves a big financial risk. Conversely, printing in small runs results in a high unit cost per book. The costs of marketing and distribution in the Age of Paper were also high. Inevitably, some form of sifting was necessary to reduce the risk of financial disaster, and equally such sifting runs the risk of prejudice, submission to group think, snobbery, ‘networking’ by associates of authors,etc., etc.
Nowadays we have the internet and for those who prefer a real book to an e-book, the underused technology of print-on-demand. Ideally, in the future, the likes of Penguin Random House will have gone the same way as British Leyland and Woolworths, and Waterstones et.al. will have also largely disappeared. Small-to-medium sized businesses will sell second-hand books and order print-on-demand new books in small runs or in response to direct demand from customers. The internet will substitute Informal criticism and input from book clubs and the like, for marketing by smooth professionals.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 months ago
Reply to  Jack Tarr

But if traditional publishing is replaced, how will politicians launder money?

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
2 months ago

George Eliot and a fine collection of other authors spring to mind 🙂

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
2 months ago

Activism succeeds when it attracts money and media coverage. Moving the goal posts is essential to continuing the momentum, or both dry up. See Bindel article re Stonewall elsewhere here for an illustration. The concept of women as a marginalised and oppressed “minority” in need of equity in select fields is alive and well, and has drawn in trans-women as well to benefit from victimhood status.

This concept is now embedded in many western societies, and publishers are no exception in falling in line with the correct zeigeist. Look no further than the the 57%/43% rate of women/men uni graduates – 60/40 in the US – to understand the direction of future employment in top salaried fields.

Facts and stats are clearly no impediment to advancing the women’s equity project.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
2 months ago

“and has drawn in trans-women as well to benefit from victimhood status.”
*and has drawn in trans-“women” as well to benefit from victimhood status.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
2 months ago

In professional symphonic music, there is a decades long tradition of what’s called the “blind audition”. You literally audition behind a screen, so the judges can’t see you until your done playing and they’re scores are recorded. Sometimes not even then.

This is a system that is looking for “the best musician” and accepts no other considerations. The only relevent question is, how well do you play? Sadly, in the wake of Saint Floyd, this tradition is also being rejected today, but publishing would benefit from something similar.

Amanda Olson-Thompson
Amanda Olson-Thompson
2 months ago

I’m an author, a half Swedish, half Apache female fantasy author. I recently had my publishing contract pulled because the House had made the decision that they wanted to focus on ‘BIPOC and LGBTQ+ writers rather than those of white heteronormative descent.’

So. Yeah. Cool.

I’ve only put multiple decades and the entirety of my life into my storytelling, it’s fine. Clearly I’m not worth publishing again because my skin is melanin-challenged.

John Sullivan
John Sullivan
2 months ago

And yet…

Have you taken your vaccines? Do you challenge the #ClimateHoax? Do you believe the 2020 election was legal?

Perhaps you haven’t, you do, and you don’t. This is not meant as a personal attack, or a failure to empathise with your situation. My point is that Martin Niemoller warned us about how tyranny spreads protected by the naivete and complacency of the masses. Collectively, we’ve learned nothing.

John Solomon
John Solomon
2 months ago

“If young white men aren’t the hottest commodity right now, it’s not just because publishers have convinced themselves it’s a moral imperative not to hire them; it’s because the industry follows the zeitgeist, and the zeitgeist of the moment is deeply invested in identity.”

And that is the nub of the matter. Publishing is not, and never has been, a business concerned with morals – it is about producing books which will sell. Fundamentally publishers have the same commercial ethics as those who run whorehouses.

Aphrodite Rises
Aphrodite Rises
2 months ago
Reply to  John Solomon

It sounds like publishers/activists are creating the zeitgeist. Their behaviour suggests the name of a book (which has probably already been used) – No place for white men. The mental gymnastics involved in blatantly discriminating against a section of society whilst claiming it is all in the pursuit of social justice is fascinating to behold (the phrase ‘the inmates have taken over the asylum springs to mind’) I guess – in biblical terms – it is a case of the sins of the fathers being visited on the children. One plus of capitalism is that the pursuit of profit above all else does not intentionally discriminate against particular groups – at times it actually protects eg. J K Rowling, Dave Chappell and Ricky Gervais.

Last edited 2 months ago by Aphrodite Rises
Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
2 months ago
Reply to  John Solomon

I see this in magazine publishing especially which is only hastening their inevitable decline as well.

Frederick Dixon
Frederick Dixon
2 months ago

The market will win, as always. So long as there remains a market for the sort of stuff enjoyed by straight white men, someone will ensure that that market is supplied. Publishers who won’t supply that market will shrivel to niche publishers, or go out of business.

But that will take time as the current madness works itself out, which is little consolation for those new white authors whose works will never see the light of day because they’re the wrong colour and the wrong sex.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 months ago

Ah, this explains why white males don’t buy novels and don’t even bother dropping by bookstores to look at the new releases. It’s like a cop is standing at a crime scene saying,Nothing to see here, keep on moving.

Last edited 2 months ago by Jerry Carroll
Jonathan Story
Jonathan Story
2 months ago

No. The left has not “won” the diversity battle. The exchange recorded at the beginning of this article is not typical. The big break throughs were made in the 1960s with the civil rights movement. It was the best thing that happened, and it was supported by a long history of advocacy by anti-slavers, those who promoted one man, one vopte- a totally revolutionary idea- around the world. It was primarily a Christian victory. Which is why racism is back and championed by “progressives”, ie pêople who promote racism.

John Sullivan
John Sullivan
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Story

“The exchange recorded at the beginning of this article is not typical”

I’m betting it didn’t even happen, nor anything close to it.

You’re right too that the left has not “won” the diversity battle. But they’ve won the culture war, and that’s all that counts.

Rebecca Bartleet
Rebecca Bartleet
2 months ago

It appears to be the same for young white males who would like to work in publishing.

Steve Martin Short
Steve Martin Short
2 months ago

Another angle on the question of demographics is to look at reviewers, authors, and topics as featured in major publications. For example, in a recent feature on 88 books for summer in the New York Times, seven of the eight categories were curated by women; a man curated the Sports category. In the Thriller category, seven of eight authors featured are women, and all the protagonists in the eight books are women. In the Science Fiction and Fantasy category, six of eight books are by women and with female protagonists; another is by a transman with a trans protagonist. Four of eleven authors of featured historical fiction are male, and about four of the protagonists. Possibly not surprisingly, seven of eight Romance authors are female; the male author is gay, writing about gay romance. The Travel and Cooking categories are more balanced in gender of authors.
I don’t what bigger implication this has, but from the perspective of the New York Times at least, it seems that the great majority of books worth mentioning are authored, reviewed, and about women.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
2 months ago

Publishing editors who are now rejecting white male writers don’t want to admit that ten years ago they were only publishing white male writers. To admit to change is to admit to having erred.

Kevin Johnson
Kevin Johnson
2 months ago

I’d like to see context on this. This is certainly the case with the Great Big Publishers, but the last industry stats that I saw confirmed that the vast majority of books sold in the U.S. are from small independent presses. Well, in general, the free market here is still oozing around the establishment. And invisibly, as the free market always does at these junctures.

Victoria Cooper
Victoria Cooper
2 months ago

It seems to me the editor who said black/fat covers don’t sell was the one who was racist. Maybe he just should have tried and thrown in some good marketing. Instead we have had to endure two decades of bias, racism and dishonesty. I don’t know why the author had to waffle for so long to say something so obvious.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
2 months ago

I have made a solemn promise only to read novels written by white men until the publishing industry starts publishing novels written by white men.

harry storm
harry storm
2 months ago

Female author Lionel Shriver nailed it when she said: “writers used to be cutting edge; now they’re cookie cutter.”