Roxane Gay, author of Bad Feminist and Difficult Women, has pulled her forthcoming book, How to Be Heard, from TED Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Her decision to terminate her relationship with the imprint came in response to Milo Yiannopoulos’ controversial book deal with Simon and Schuster.
How to Be Heard was scheduled for relase with TED in March 2018, but Roxane chose to terminate the deal after realising that she would be published under the same parent company as Milo Yiannopoulos, who was banned from Twitter last year was for orchestrating a racist online harassment campaign against Saturday Night Live star Leslie Jones.
In a statement to Buzzfeed, Gay explained how she came to the decision:
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.
Roxane has made clear that the decision was a matter of conscience, but she also acknowledges that she is in a uniquely fortunate position to be able to make this decision:
I guess the news out. Everythjng I need to say is in my statement. I can afford to take this stand. Not everyone can. Remember that.
— roxane gay (@rgay) January 25, 2017