Roxane Gay is taking a stand against Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos and the so-called “alt-right,” aka neo-Nazis/white supremacists.
Gay pulled her forthcoming book How To Be Heard from TED Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, as a protest against Simon & Schuster’s $250,000 book deal with Yiannopoulos. Yiannopoulos is set to publish a book called Dangerous on Simon & Schuster imprint Threshold Editions on March 14th.
Gay told BuzzFeed News, “I can’t in good conscience let them publish it while they also publish Milo. So I told my agent over the weekend to pull the project.”
When the announcement about Milo’s book first came out, I was relieved because I thought I didn’t have a book with Simon & Schuster and tweeted something to that effect. Then I remembered my TED Book and that TED is an imprint of Simon & Schuster. I was supposed to turn the book in this month and I kept thinking about how egregious it is to give someone like Milo a platform for his blunt, inelegant hate and provocation. I just couldn’t bring myself to turn the book in. My editor emailed me last week and I kept staring at that email in my inbox and finally over the weekend I asked my agent to pull the book.
Though TED Books and Threshold are vastly different imprints, they both reside within Simon & Schuster and so I guess I’m putting my money where my mouth is. And to be clear, this isn’t about censorship. Milo has every right to say what he wants to say, however distasteful I and many others find it to be. He doesn’t have a right to have a book published by a major publisher but he has, in some bizarre twist of fate, been afforded that privilege. So be it. I’m not interested in doing business with a publisher willing to grant him that privilege. I am also fortunate enough to be in a position to make this decision. I recognize that other writers aren’t and understand that completely.
The editor of TED Books is Michelle Quint. I don’t think Michelle is an employee of Simon & Schuster. She works for TED. She is, from my experience thus far, smart, kind, patient, and committed to putting good books into the world.
I have not placed the book elsewhere. I do hope the book is published someday.
How To Be Heard was originally scheduled for publication in March 2018.
Gay continued discussing her decision on Twitter, saying, “I guess the news is out. Everything I need to say is in my statement. I can afford to take this stand. Not everyone can. Remember that.”
We applaud Gay’s decision to take a stand against the normalization of white supremacy, even at a financial loss to herself. Let’s hope Simon & Schuster is paying attention and changing their ways.
Top photo: RoxaneGay.com
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Erika W. Smith is BUST's digital editorial director. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram @erikawynn and email her at email@example.com.