The Twittermob’s fury with un-woke novels has sinister echoes of the past.
By Tim Dawson
February 4, 2019
The Book Community has jumped the shark. Who are the ‘Book Community’? Well, they’re the nebulous group of super-woke flakes who bullied young-adult (YA) fantasy author Amelie Wen Zhao into pulling the publication of her debut novel, Blood Heir. While it wasn’t slated for release until June, some review copies had been sent out. Apparently the book has already shaken some readers – and some people who obviously haven’t read it – to the core. Zhao’s depiction of slavery in one scene has been deemed problematic. Reverse racism, lack of genderqueer representation, and a central antagonist with a limp are some of the other criticisms levelled against it, and Twitter is fuming. Zhao has issued an apology and agreed with her publishers to cancel publication.
The novel is probably terrible. I’m not particularly into sword and sorcery stuff – though the fact that it has upset so many flakes has naturally piqued my interest. But you don’t need to like, or even read, a book to defend its right to be published. Of course, Amelie Wen Zhao halted publication herself. You could argue that she has ‘listened to feedback’ and acted accordingly. But the line between listening to feedback and being bullied by very angry zealots is a thin one, and this incident seems to have crossed it. Zhao relies on these people for her income and is scared. That’s understandable. And really, really bad.
Our cultural landscape is increasingly controlled by the permanently outraged. Books – even trashy fantasy novels – are a key component of…