UPDATE 6/14 3:28 PM ET
James Patterson issued a public apology after his comments about “racism” in the publishing industry drew widespread backlash. “I apologize for saying white male writers having trouble finding work is a form of racism,” the author tweeted on Tuesday, June 14. “I absolutely do not believe that racism is practiced against white writers. Please know that I strongly support a diversity of voices being heard — in literature, in Hollywood, everywhere.”
Original story below:
Offering his take. James Patterson shared his thoughts on the publishing industry in a new interview, and his opinions raised plenty of eyebrows.
The prolific author, 75, claimed that it’s now more difficult for older white men to find writing jobs in film, TV and publishing, calling it “another form of racism” in a Sunday, June 12, interview with The Sunday Times.
“What’s that all about?” the New York native continued. “Can you get a job? Yes. Is it harder? Yes. It’s even harder for older writers. You don’t meet many 52-year-old white males.”
The comments immediately sparked backlash among critics and social media users, some of whom pointed to current bestseller lists as evidence that Patterson’s claims are factually incorrect. One viral thread listed all the “older” white men — including Stephen King, John Grisham, David Sedaris and David Baldacci — who were on USA Today‘s list on the day the Kiss the Girls writer’s interview was published.
Patterson also slammed his publisher, Hachette Book Group, for deciding to drop Woody Allen‘s memoir in early 2020 after 75 employees staged a walkout in protest of the book. “I hated that,” the Manhattan College alum said, noting that he believes the Annie Hall director, 86, had “the right to tell his own story.” (Patterson, for his part, is known for working with ghostwriters and collaborators.)
Allen’s book Apropos of Nothing was quickly picked up by another company, Arcade Publishing, and hit stores in March 2020.
After Patterson’s interview appeared online, many other authors chimed in to express their disapproval for his comments. “James Patterson of all people,” tweeted Roxane Gay. “First of all, write your own books, pal.”
Alyssa Cole, who writes romance and science fiction novels, added via Twitter: “All I’ll say about James Patterson is that his idea that cis white male authors are discriminated against/losing out, despite his continued success, is directly related to the replacement theory driving white supremacy, anti-trans laws, roe v wade, and everything else going on.”
Rebecca Carroll, a WNYC contributor and author of Surviving the White Gaze, pointed out that Patterson is one of the richest authors working today. Forbes estimates that he is the second highest-paid author in the world, behind only J.K. Rowling.
“Imagine being born the year Jackie Robinson was the first Black MLB player in history, and then growing up to be one of the richest authors in America talking about struggles for white men is ‘another form of racism’—James Patterson GTFO,” tweeted Carroll.