Social Media is Blowing Up Over Problematic Young Adult Novels
Plus children’s books are addressing the refugee crisis and Netflix’s first acquisition is a comic-book publisher
In today’s literary roundup, intense YA Twitter posts are calling out books way before publication, the refugee crisis is the subject of more and more books for children even as young as four years old, and comic-book publisher Millarworld has been acquired by entertainment giant Netflix.
@rgay As an actual gay person, reading passages from The Black Witch turned my stomach. A straight white lady doesn’t need to tackle our struggle.
The YA Twitter community is not happy about ‘The Black Witch’
It turns out that the young adult literature world is a hotbed of internet callouts. An article in Vulture focuses on the furor over The Black Witch, a debut fantasy novel released on May 1. With reviewers calling it a compelling tale of romance and rebellion with valuable discussion about prejudice, many were excited for its publication. The positive buzz surrounding it came to a screeching halt in March when blogger/bookstore employee Shauna Sinyard wrote a scathing review of the novel saying it was “the most dangerous, offensive book I have ever read.” Her criticism of The Black Witch gained traction via social media, where her post asking the Twitter community to share her review got nearly 500 retweets. The call-to-action within the short post is a common feature of the YA social media community, whose determination to pinpoint and eradicate books deemed problematic is relentless. And the community surely did deliver; the publisher, Harlequin Teen, received a flood of angry emails demanding that the title be pulled, and the Goodreads rating dropped to a shocking 1.71. At the heart of this campaign against The Black Witch is an ever-thriving discussion about the overwhelming lack of diversity in publishing.“In the fight for racial equality, white people are not the focus. White authors writing books like #TheContinent or #TheBlackWitch, who say it’s an examination of racism in an attempt to dismantle it, you. don’t. have. the. range,” author L.L. McKinney wrote in a representative tweet. The Vulture article is stirring up strong opinions too; if nothing else, it makes for a gripping read.
More children’s books are addressing the refugee crisis
Determined to convey the importance of addressing the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis, a number of authors are taking on the subject in their children’s books as a way to raise awareness in readers from a young age. Writers wanting to humanize the conflict are featuring young Muslim refugees as the protagonists of their forthcoming titles. Some books are designed for readers as young as four years old, while others are geared toward middle and high school-aged students. The books delve into complicated issues such as the rise of the Islamic State as well as the Sunni and Shia divide. For instance, Atia Abawi’s A Land of Permanent Goodbyes is about a Syrian family that escapes an ISIS stronghold for Istanbul and then Greece. Teachers and librarians are using these titles as a way to explain the refugee crisis to students and give them perspective about the lives of other children and families in the world.
[NY Times/Alexandra Alter]
Netflix’s first acquisition is comic-book publisher Millarworld
The time has finally come. The ever-growing entertainment empire that is Netflix has made its first acquisition: the comic-book publisher Millarworld. The purchase was made with the intention of adapting the company’s titles into series and movies for subscribers. Under the deal, the comic-book creators will continue to develop stories and characters under the Netflix label. More and more, Netflix has been determined to create self-produced shows and limit reliance on licensed content from other studios. And with the superhero market thriving, Millarworld is the streaming giant’s next step into uninhibited growth. Some of Millarworld’s hit comics have already been turned into movies, such as “Kick-Ass” and “Kingsman.” “I’m so in love with what Netflix is doing and excited by their plans. Netflix is the future and Millarworld couldn’t have a better home,” Millarworld creator Mark Millar said in a statement.
[LA Times/David Ng]