Alexandra Duncan has canceled her young adult novel Ember Days mere days after its cover reveal on BookPage. An hour after Duncan posted the cover reveal for the book, which was slated for a March 2021 release from Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, to her Twitter feed, an author questioned the representation within the novel, which was noted in the book’s description: "Naomi is the granddaughter of a powerful Gullah conjure woman, sent to Charleston to combat an evil force circling the city and hiding in plain sight as Deidre’s protégé" [...].
In a statement released yesterday by Duncan, she refers to exchanges with author colleagues following the cover reveal, which made her aware that in her "misguided attempt to write a book that was inclusive of all cultures of Charleston and the Lowcountry, where the book is set," she participated in the "ongoing erasure of [the Gullah Geechee] culture." Explaining that her "own limited worldview as a white person" led her to incorrectly assume she could responsibly depict this culture, Duncan said, "Clearly, the fact that I did not see the signs of the problem with my book’s premise in my research or conversations about the book is evidence that I was not the right person to try to tell this story. I am deeply ashamed to have made a mistake of this magnitude and hope my actions will not negatively affect the cause of bringing greater diversity to children’s literature."
Duncan also addressed and rejected the misconception that the cancellation is censorship, noting, “It is wholly my decision to withdraw the book in order to mitigate the harm I have done.”
To read Grochowski's entire article, click HERE.
"War begets war. Destruction begets destruction. On Earth, a century ago, in the year 2020 they outlawed our books. Oh, what a horrible thing--to destroy our literary creations that way! It summoned us out of--what? Death? The Beyond? I don't like abstract things. I don't know. I only know that our worlds and our creations called us and we tried to save them, and the only saving thing we could do was wait out the century here on Mars, hoping Earth might overweight itself with these scientists and their doubtings; but now they're coming to clean us out of here, us and our dark things, and all the alchemists, witches, vampires, and were-things that, one by one, retreated across space as science made inroads through every country on Earth and finally left no alternative at all but exodus."
--Edgar Allan Poe speaking to the ghosts of Charles Dickens and Ambrose Bierce in Ray Bradbury's short story "The Exiles" (collected in THE ILLUSTRATED MAN, 1951)