discussion: “magic under glass” January 19, 2010Posted by Katie in community.
“Magic Under Glass” is a fabulous debut by author Jaclyn Dolamore, one that I recently had the privilege of reading. I purchased the book a) because it’s fantasy and I love fantasy; b) because it’s a debut author; c) because it was compared to Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy — some of my favorite YA books.
“Magic Under Glass” tells the story of Nimira, a troup dancer/singer who catches the eye of a wealthy man named Hollin Parry. Parry offers her the chance to sing in his home, with an automaton who plays the piano — an automaton that is haunted. Nimira accepts and soon finds that there is more to the automaton, to Parry, and to her new world than meets the eye.
Nimira is from the East. There are countless references to her skin color as she is dressed and undressed by servants of Parry. And I quote:
“She brought forth the splendid gown, with its rustling silk and air of grandeur. It dipped low in back and front, with cream and black velvet flowers crawling around the neckline, exposing what seemed like far too much of my brown skin. I tried not to care how pale Linza’s hands were against mine.” – Page 105.
As you can see from the cover image above — that is clearly a white model. She absolutely does not have brown skin.
Originally I hadn’t planned on blogging about this until Dolamore had a chance to personally respond. I prefer to get as much of the story as I can before leaping into the fray. Dolamore is preparing a post, as she stated right here, but I don’t want to wait any longer.
Timeline of Events:
(Please feel free to leave links in the comments. I haven’t gotten through my feed reader, so I know I’m already missing posts. I will work on adding those in tomorrow. All times reflect post times/dates as I see them on my screen.)
- Jaclyn Dolamore through Flickr posts her drawing of Nimira [December 31st, 2009].
- Aja at Bookshop calls attention to the fact that Bloomsbury has chosen again to use a white cover model instead of an accurate representation of the character’s race. As far as I can see, this is the farthest back post. Also, contains profanity, for those who are sensitive to that [Friday evening, 10:14 p.m.].
- Ah Yuan at GAL Novelty writes about the cover controversy. Also provides helpful links to previous discussions about “Liar” [Saturday afternoon, 12:44 p.m.].
- Ari at Reading In Color responds to finding out about the cover. Excellent links to other blogger posts [Saturday night, 8:37 p.m.].
- Susan at Black-Eyed Susan’s discusses Bloomsbury’s whitewashing again [Sunday morning, 10:57 a.m.].
- Ari at Reading In Color write an open letter to Bloomsbury about the issue [Sunday evening, 8:35 p.m.]
- Kristi at The Story Siren asks if she’s a bad person because she didn’t notice the discrepancy between Nimira’s character and the cover model [Sunday evening, 9:04 p.m.].
- Amy at My Friend Amy talks about why we are offended and how we should unite as a community [Monday morning, 10:32 a.m.].
- Susan at Black-Eyed Susan’s explains further why she has chosen to boycott Bloomsbury [Monday morning, 10:50 a.m.].
- Anna North writes at Jezebel about the cover controversy [Monday afternoon, 4:00 p.m.]
- Ana at Book Smugglers ponders covers and their misrepresentations in YA literature [Monday afternoon, around 4:00 p.m.].
- Colleen at Chasing Ray posts a summary of the events thus far [Monday evening, approximately 10:00 p.m.].
Here is what I know:
1. This cover is wrong. Bloomsbury was wrong to okay it. It’s wrong when people cannot see themselves on the covers of books because of color, because of size. Because someone decides what I’m going to buy or not buy ahead of time, without any clue with how I choose my books.
2. We — the blogging community — need to speak out about this and to speak out about this as often as we can. Because nothing’s going to be done if we don’t say anything.
2a. I have not always done so. I briefly mentioned the “Liar” cover controversy on the blog. Briefly isn’t going to cut it.
2b. I believe this offers us a chance to unite as a true community.
3. Authors have absolutely nothing to do with covers, for the most part. And I can’t imagine that a debut author has the power to debate the cover model with any kind of authority.
4. Boycotting “Magic Under Glass” or Jaclyn Dolamore is not my choice of action. I loved “Magic Under Glass” and am pleased to say I own it. It’s a wonderful book.
Here’s what I’m doing:
1. Not purchasing Bloomsbury books, but rather waiting patiently to check them out of the library.
2. I am making a change in my reading this year and trying to read more deliberately. I will be seeking out books that feature people of color prominently on the cover.
3. Additionally, I will be purchasing those books instead of checking them out of the library.
4. Speaking out about the issue, continuing to educate myself, and working to educate other bloggers and my teens at the library.
5. Contacting Bloomsbury to make them hear me as a reader, a blogger, and a librarian.
It’s 4:30 a.m. Chicago time. I have literally been reading about this for nearly eight hours straight at this point. I am not done updating the timeline or listening to the bloggers speaking out about this issue. Already, I have added nearly half a dozen bloggers to my feed reader, half a dozen new voices to be heard. Please keep talking about this very important issue.
I invite everyone to participate in the comments. Please be respectful and keep it clean, or I’ll remove the comment.