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Celebrated Writer Roxane Gay Pulls Book From Simon & Schuster Over Alt Right Book Deal

By Rachel Cromidas in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 25, 2017 8:51PM

Roxane Gay, photo via her Facebook page.

Celebrated author Roxane Gay has announced that she's pulling her upcoming book from publisher Simon & Schuster in protest of the publisher's recently-inked book deal with alt-right personality Milo Yiannopoulos.

Last month Simon & Schuster gave the controversial writer and speaker, who is known for his bigoted statements about women, the LGBTQ community and other marginalized groups, and for inciting followers to Tweet racist comments at comedian Leslie Jones, a $250,000 advance. Locally, an appearance Yiannopoulos made at DePaul University last year sparked protests. The publisher's move sparked outrage within the literary community, noting that Yiannopoulos's writings seem to valorize hate speech.

Gay's upcoming How to be Heard was slated to be published next year by TED Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Gay said that she "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," according to Buzzfeed. The book does not have a new publisher yet.

Gay is a Purdue University professor in Lafayette, Indiana, a novelist, a New York Times op-ed contributor and the best-selling author of the essay collection Bad Feminist. She also has no problem finding a platform for her writer, thank you very much, concern trolls:

Gay's full statement says:

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.