After admitting to using racial slurs, food-television personality Paula Deen lost many lucrative contracts and endorsements. But when Random House announced it would halt publication of her forthcoming cookbook, Paula Deen’s New Testament (despite the fact that pre-sales pushed it to the top of Amazon’s bestsellers’ list), the Langum Charitable Trust, a private U.S. foundation that runs two small literary prizes, was one of the few organizations to come to her defence.
In response to what it calls an “offensive act,” the trust has announced a two-year boycott of all Penguin Random House imprints. The boycott will take effect July 1, 2014, with all books published prior to that date remaining eligible for awards.
A press release from Langum Charitable Trust says:
We cannot pretend that it was a fear of economic backlash that motivated Random House. It was simply a political decision to appease a particular mob and an act of cowardly self-censorship. This represents a threat to all literature, not merely cookbooks.
This is not the first time that the foundation has blacklisted Random House (although it’s the first as the merged entity, Penguin Random House). In 2008, it boycotted Random House after the publisher pulled Sherry Jones’ controversial novel, The Jewel of Medina, over fears the book could incite violence.