Author Lauren Hough Loses Lambda Prize Nomination After Suggesting People Read a Forthcoming Book Before They Condemn It

Lauren Hough:

My book won’t win a prize because my friend Sandra Newman wrote a book. The premise of her book is “what if all the men disappeared.” When she announced the book on twitter, YA twitter saw it. This is the single most terrifying thing that can happen to a writer on twitter. YA twitter, presumably fans of young adult fiction, are somehow unfamiliar with the concept of fiction. YA twitter doesn’t do nuance. They don’t understand metaphor or thought experiment. They expect fictional characters to be good and moral and just, whether antagonist or protagonist. They expect characters and plot to be free of conflict. They require fiction to portray a world without racism, bigotry, and bullies. And when YA twitter gets wind of a book that doesn’t meet their demands, they respond with a beatdown so unrelenting and vicious it would shock William Golding. They call it “call-out culture” because bullying is wrong, unless your target is someone you don’t like, for social justice reasons, of course.

Publishing hasn’t yet figured out how to respond to YA twitter. Authors who’ve been targeted have left social media entirely. Reviewers shy away. Publishers have pulled books. Authors have changed lines, characters, and scenes in their books hoping to avoid becoming a target, or to appease YA twitter once they have. And once they have become targets, those writers often find themselves alone — their friends and colleagues silent for fear of becoming targets themselves. The entirety of the publishing world is terrified of a few hundred self-described book lovers on social media who are shockingly bad at reading books.

Very strange that Hough’s award nomination would be revoked for this, because after The New York Times editorial board’s much-discussed opinion piece last week, backed by polling, arguing that America has a problem with free speech as a social ideal, I learned on Twitter that this just isn’t so and that “cancel culture” does not exist.

(Snark aside, may I suggest that even if you disagree with the Times editorial board’s opinion, their polling results are eye-opening regarding whether Americans — on both the right and left — believe that we have a growing problem with tolerance for opinions we disagree with. Much of the knee-jerk reaction to the Times editorial board’s opinion seems like proof in and of itself that they were right.)

Speaking of The Times, here’s their story today by reporter Marc Tracy on Lambda Literary’s revocation of Hough’s award nomination:

Hough said Monday that she could not recall whether she had deleted any tweets, and denied that any of her tweets had been transphobic. Lambda did not provide examples of the posts they were most critical of. The Times has not reviewed any deleted tweets.

That’s really something. Jeet Heer:

I’m a bit baffled by this. How do we adjudicate a controversy about something said when its deleted, neither party wants to quote it, and the reporter hasn’t seen it?

Tuesday, 22 March 2022