Inside the Australian and New Zealand book industry

Image. Advertisement:

Picador apologises over response to criticism of Orwell Prize-winner

In the UK, Kate Clanchy will partially rewrite her 2020 Orwell Prize-winning book Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me as publisher Picador says it’s ‘profoundly sorry’ for the way it responded to criticism of the language used in the book, reports the Bookseller.

Clanchy’s memoir examines her experience teaching in state schools over several decades, and received glowing reviews when Picador published it in 2019. Critics, including Jhalak Prize founder Sunny Singh and writer Chimene Suleyman, have since accused the book of racial stereotyping in its descriptions of children, while Pragya Agarwal, a writer and professor of inequities and social inclusion at Loughborough University, wrote that passages were ‘shocking in the use of racialised stereotypes and tropes to describe minority ethnic children’ in a comment piece for the Bookseller.

In an initial response, Picador said it would ‘continue to listen and learn’. Following further criticism the response didn’t go far enough or engage with people’s concerns, the publisher issued an updated statement apologising for its response.

‘We have been listening to the responses to what we said about Kate Clanchy’s Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me and we want to apologise profoundly for the hurt we have caused, the emotional anguish experienced by many of you who took the time to engage with the text, and to hold us to account,’ the publisher said.

‘We realise our response was too slow. We vigorously condemn the despicable online bullying of many of those who have spoken out. This has no place in our community. We understand that readers wish to know specifically what will be done about the book, we’re actively working on this now and we will communicate this as soon as possible.’

Clanchy tweeted that she would be re-writing parts of her book, and apologised for the way she reacted to initial criticism. ‘I’ve been given the chance to do some re-writing on Some Kids. I’m grateful: I know I got many things wrong, and welcome the chance to write better, more lovingly.’


Category: International news