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Penguin U.K. snubs Achebe and Baldwin in reprint line

Penguin in the U.K. has encountered some controversy over a reprint campaign tied into its 70th anniversary. The firm is reprinting 70 “Pocket Penguins” (short backlist and current titles) and The Guardian notes that only two of the 70 authors chosen are non-white: Zadie Smith and Hari Kunzru. Writes arts and media correspondent Vanessa Thorpe: “Although Penguin has published two of the most important figures in modern black literature, James Baldwin and Chinua Achebe, neither is included on a list that finds room for popular modern names such as Jamie Oliver, Marian Keyes, Gervase Phinn and India Knight, as well as paying tribute to significant white landmarks of world literature such as Gustave Flaubert, Albert Camus, Jorge Luis Borges, Paul Theroux, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Vladimir Nabokov, Sigmund Freud and even Homer.” A Penguin marketing exec says that Baldwin and Achebe didn’t even come close, since they “in fact sell very little in this country.”

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Click here for the Guardian story