The New York Times is out with its annual summer reading list by literary critic Janet Maslin. It’s cutting-edge in that it includes a sweet popsicle GIF!
But something about it is eerily antiquated — of the 17 recommended books, there isn’t one by a minority.
As Gawker pointed out, the list typically under-represents minority authors. This year, the list is whiter than the blank page on which they started writing.
It’s easy to say lists like these don’t matter, but they do. To prove it, let’s play a choose-your-own-adventure game with the publishing industry.
You’re a kid in a book store. You find plenty of books about characters who look like you. Jump to page 12, where you consider the possibility that you, too, can write books!
Now let’s say you’re a grown-up, published author! Congratulations! You finally got to name a villain after your ex. Your masterpiece is displayed on the main floor of the book store!
Jump to page 10,000, because that’s how many dollars you could make in book sales today! Oh my gosh, Katy Perry is going to jump out of a cake at your next book launch party!
Turn to your next book, which may make Janet Maslin’s list!
Oh, wait, unless you’re a minority. Then there aren’t many books about kids like you. According to some studies, 14 percent at best.
You feel like you don’t belong. So turn back, go home, and re-read “Fancy Nancy” while imagining Nancy is half Puerto Rican on her mom’s side.
Now you’re a minority grown-up author. Congratulations on your first book! Too bad it’s likely buried in the “ethnic” section and won’t get seen by most shoppers.
Turn to the last page, because this chapter is over. Book recommendation lists routinely pass you by, and you can’t get the press coverage you deserve. Before you go, read today’s hardcover best-seller fiction list, where only one of 15 books is by a minority.
Wake up, publishing industry! It’s not hard to tell compelling stories about minorities.
Look at “Empire,” “black-ish,” “Scandal,” “Fresh Off the Boat,” “Key and Peele,” “The Mindy Project,” and more.
The list could be length of, oh, a book?
We never thought we’d say this, publishing people, but you need to put down that novel and start watching television.