August 12th, 2009

Let me see..

Spanish newspaper article on Justine Larbalestier's cover controversy

Today's issue of El País, Spain's leading newspaper, includes an article about the controversy over the depiction of a white girl on the cover of Justine Larbalestier's novel Liar, which is about a black girl:

My translation of the article:


Controversy over the "whitened" cover of a novel

How is it possible that a young "black woman with curly hair that she wears natural and short" winds up being a white woman with straight hair? In these terms in her blog, the Australian writer Justine Larbalestier describes Micah, the protagonist in her young adult novel Liar. Nonetheless, the publisher Bloomsbury chose a very different image, racially, for the cover of its edition in the United States, provoking the anger of Afro-Americans.

"Editors are reluctant to put black faces on covers," wrote Karen Scott in her blog. Many black writers have accused publishers of "whitening" the protagonists on their covers. The author herself said in her web: "The cover of Lair went through many versions. One of the first, that I loved, showed the title written with human hair. The sales department thought it wouldn't sell. Bloomsbury has had success with photos of girls and wanted something similar. I objected and lost." Bloomsbury has announced that it will change the cover. The new one will show a young black girl with curly hair.


-- Sue Burke