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August 10, 2009

Bloomsbury relents: "Liar" gets new cover


You may remember last month's post detailing the hullabaloo over the U.S. cover of Justine Larbalestier's "Liar." The Young Adult novel with a black protagonist featured a very white model.

Last week, Bloomsbury told Publishers Weekly that the cover will be changed ahead of the book's October publishing date.

"We regret that our original creative direction for 'Liar' -- which was intended to symbolically reflect the narrator's complex psychologial makeup -- has been interpreted by some as a calculated decision to mask the character's ethnicity," officials said in a statement. "As the publisher of 'Liar,' we also hope that nothing further distracts from the quality of the author's nuanced and accomplished story, and that a new cover will allow this novel's many advocates to celebrate its U.S. publication without reservation."

I'm not quite sure what a picture of a white woman is supposed to reflect about a black woman's mind, but I'm just glad the publisher decided to change the hardcover jacket, instead of waiting to fix the problem until the paperback's release.

Bloomsbury mentions in the same statement that they hope discussions about race and the importance of diversity in YA literature continue in the publishing world, and I hope they've now decided to lead that discussion. But in case they don't, my guess is that their latest star writer will be happy to point them in the right direction.

Larbalestier recommends a few books with minority characters for readers to explore, and I'd like to add "Maniac Magee" by Jerry Spinelli and "Libyrinth" by Pearl North.

Posted by Nancy Knight at 9:30 AM | | Comments (1)


Congratulations, Justine and Bloomsbury - it's a great cover. (As a bookseller I can tell you COVERS DO SELL BOOKS.)

Kudos to your courage, also, for taking on this necessary debate.

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About the blogger
Dave Rosenthal came to The Baltimore Sun as a business reporter in 1987 and now is the Maryland Editor. He reads a wide range of books (but never as many as he'd like), usually alternating between non-fiction and fiction. Some all-time favorites: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole; Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupery; and anything by Calvin Trillin or John McPhee. He belongs to a book club with a Jewish theme.
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