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Ben Aaronovitch's debut urban fantasy Rivers of London, retitled Midnight Riot by Del Rey for its US release, has a mixed-race protagonist, with a white father and African mother. In recent years, there have been a number of embarrassing examples of major publishers in the US overtly placing white characters on the covers of books with non-white heroes, a relic of an attitude, perhaps, that black people don't care to read. It's asinine, and in some high profile cases, publishers have been duly shamed into correcting or rejacketing covers following a public outcry.
Curiously, I haven't seen much of an outcry in response to what Del Rey has done with the cover of Midnight Riot. Commendably, in the earliest pre-release version of the cover, they showed that they weren't about to Michael Jacksonize the book's hero and magically turn him the color of driven snow. Still, a sufficient amount of shading was employed to conceal very slightly the cover model's black features.
How is it "racist" to make him DARKER?
Ok, ok... just kidding. Verily, this is appalling. The contemporality (yes, I know that's not a word) actually makes it more offensive than olde-timey minstrel and mammy images.
I would love to have been a fly on the office wall when this call was made. Did anyone there caution, protest or even just throw up a Spock-eyebrow?
I'd like to think it was one boss-type putting his foot down for "business" reasons (read: pandering to racial hangups) and telling anyone disgusted by it, "Hey, there's the door!"
But what if nobody objected... and they're over at Del Rey, fielding calls and emails about this, all the while saying, "What gives? Why are we the bad guys? It's just a marketing thing..."
By comparison, feast your eyes on the blond, Aryan studmuffin on the cover of Kevin Hearne's Hounded, a debut fantasy Del Rey is releasing at the end of April '11.
He looks like he's waiting for his Starbuck's order.
"Iron Druid," indeed.
...but isn't Peter mixed race? He implies that he looks more or less IC-North African, which would mean he's milk coffee, no?
Not only is the cover of Zoo City not racist, it presents a politically correct image of a mixed species person (persons?), specifically the half-dog-half-man Siamese twins conjoined at the head!
Don't blacks buy books too? Who cares what's on the cover. jw
I haven't read any of the books you used as examples at the bottom, but a quick google search gives the main characters they're showing as an assassin, a criminal/outcast living on the fringes of her society and a gang leader, whereas Peter Grant is a cop and all round good bloke. It's a depressing thought but perhaps those covers display the characters because they *arn't* good, upstanding people?
That would be depressing.