I think the main clue that Justine Larbalestier wasn't thrilled with the US cover for Liar was her use of the Australian cover for her twitter icon.
When I read Liar, which I loved, I closed the book and looked at the cover, extremely puzzled. Twisting and turning to make it work, I wondered, well, is this another lie? Is Micah telling a lie about being black? I thought that didn't make sense, in terms of the story. Slightly more sense making was that the cover was itself the lie: "you think this is what I look like, but it isn't." Except it was the type of sense that made one's head hurt. Still, I didn't want to believe the obvious --
That a white girl was put on the cover of a book about a black girl because otherwise, it wouldn't sell in bookstores and it wouldn't be checked out in libraries. Larbalestier blogs about it in more detail at her blog: "The notion that “black books” don’t sell is pervasive at every level of publishing"; Publishers Weekly reports on the cover, with the publisher, Bloomsbury, saying they hoped that what I thought (more evidence that Micah is a liar!) was the universal reaction; and even GalleyCat posted about it.
Here's my first question: If Micah was white, would the publisher have said, "hey, let's put a black girl on on the cover to show Micah's a liar!"
I don't think so.
Here's my second question: What are we doing to disprove the idea that "black books don't sell"?
I am white; looking at most of the reviews I've done in 2009, you'll see mostly white covers. Should I try to review more books with main characters who aren't white? Yes. Is it sad that, despite numerous bloggers and commentators noting that blogs don't review enough books about people of color, that it's a story about a book cover that motivates me? Yes.
© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
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