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“Seg-Book-Gation” in Publishing

bm_pic2.jpgEver since she published Sugar ten years ago, novelist Bernice L. McFadden has felt marginalized by the literary fiction world–exiled in the name of diversity.

In an email interview with GalleyCat, she explained her problem with labels in the contemporary publishing industry: “[Publishers] have placed all African-American authors in one box, forcing them to compete for the attention of ONE audience,” she explained, calling the practice “Seg-Book-Gation”–voicing a concern that we’ve heard from other writers as well. What do you think?

McFadden continued: “Art of any medium should transcend color, race, class, religion and ethnicity, but alas, that is not the case in the publishing world … We’re expected to push our books on the streets like our Urban Lit writing colleagues. But we are not hustlers–we are writers.”

Finally, she concluded: “I believe the key is cross-marketing … The success of the novels “The Help” by Kathyrn Stockett and “The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd was due to cross-marketing by Penguin. Even though the cast of characters in both books are predominately African-American, the books were not pigeon-holed as ‘Black Books’ because they were written by white women.”

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