Archive for July 28th, 2009

Race and Books

There’s a lot being said in the book blogoshpere right now about race. This most recent round started after Justine Larbalestier spoke out about her unhappiness with the US cover for her new book Liar. The flames were fanned when BoigBoing picked up the story; things really get interesting in the comments. (But let us not forget the epic debacle that was RaceFail earlier this year, just in case you think this is an isolated incident. Clearly this is only a symptom of a much larger issue.)

And all of this got me thinking about race and its portrayal in the books that *I* read. How many of the books I’ve read feature non-whites as the main protagonist, or at the very least as an important figure in the story? How many easily could, but don’t?

So I did some quick math. As of this writing, I’ve read 60 books in 2009, 15 of which prominently feature non-whites. That’s about 25%, which isn’t too shabby, but it could always be better. In 2008, 24 of the 106 books I read prominently feature non-whites; that works out to be about 23%, so I seem to be consistent.

(These are both rough estimates: I looked at the titles in my LibraryThing and counted the books that weren’t just about white people and then divided that number by the total number of books I read to get my percentage; I didn’t revisit the titles in any detail, so it’s quite possible my numbers are a bit off.)

ETA 08/06/09:
Behold the power of the Internet: Liar to get new cover; Justine Larbalestier’s take

Here’s the new cover

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