The Moan Of The Privileged

I have only heard of this author. I have never read any of his books. That said, it does appear he should best stick to fiction writing and do less talking:

[From Instagram.]

Now This Entertainment above explains in the caption:

New York Times bestselling author James Patterson is facing backlash over comments he gave during a recent interview with the Sunday Times. In the interview, Patterson expressed concern about how older white men are struggling to land a career in the entertainment and publishing industries and suggested their struggle is ‘just another form of racism.’

‘What’s that all about?’ he told the publication. ‘Can you get a job? Yes. Is it harder? Yes. It’s even harder for older writers. You don’t meet many 52-year-old white males.’

Being an author, white, a man, and in that general “older” age group now, I would like to point this out.

There is absolutely no shortage of white, male, “older” writers out there. Speaking for myself, I do NOT expect to be handed ANYTHING and just strive to write the best books I can. I also get an impression from readers (although certainly I don’t have as many as he does) from whom I have heard that they are not reading me because of my race, gender, or age (and that latter has of course now gone up about a decade since I wrote my first book), but are mostly interested in simply reading good novels.

My first three, set in the 1990s, had insofar as I could discern a predominantly female readership mostly located in North America and in Europe (and that continues with current sales of them). However, they have also been read all over the world (and that also continues). Indeed I even learned at one point a few years ago that I had been read in a Beirut “Oprah-style” book club composed of some women who got together to socialize and talk about books.

[A 1794 excerpt from Conventions: The Garden At Paris, Kindle version. Photo by me, 2022.]

In 2016-17 I wrote my fourth novel, Conventions: The Garden At Paris,” with a determination to make it my “Gone With the Wind,” so to speak – meaning a novel that I hoped might “define” my writing career. I well knew it was a move away from the modern and into “period” history, and to be honest I had more than a few sleepless nights worried my existing readers might “rebel” against it, that it would not have an especially wide reach, and could even be an outright flop. Instead I noticed many of my earlier readers had “stayed” with me and it had (as I had hoped) also been discovered by new readers who were clearly interested in it as serious fiction set amidst the era of early U.S. independence, the British Georgian, and the French Revolution/Napoleonic – and some of those newer readers had also (to my pleasant surprise) even gone back and read one or more of my earlier 1990s-set books.

That trend continues with its two sequels as well. (Had Conventions been a flop, there would have been no sequels.) All three’s readership seems still to be predominantly women (many of whom are again not Americans). Again many – men and women – also seem to come to my books from various places around the globe (and so are often not white).

Bottom line: I do not feel “sidelined” in any way as an “older” white male author. Indeed I wish other “older” white men would stop telling me how aggrieved I am supposed to feel. I know exactly how I feel: I am honored and in many ways awestruck by who many of my readers are and I hope I never let them down in their reading of any of my books.

[Photo by me, my desk, Potton, England, October 12, 2021.]

Now This Entertainment concluded:

The remarks were widely criticized as tone-deaf and lacking substance almost immediately. For instance, a Penguin Random House diversity self-audit conducted from 2019-21 found that 74.9% of its contributors in that period were white, while only 6% were Black and 5% were Latinx.

On June 14, Patterson apologized for his comments on Twitter, stating he does ‘not believe that racism is practiced against white writers. Please know that I strongly support a diversity of voices being heard—in literature, in Hollywood, everywhere.’

Only Patterson knows if he truly believes his apology, yet he had to apologize because the observations were foolish. No one gets everything all their own way in this life, and we are not all gazillionaires, but overall “older” white male authors are among the most privileged class on the planet. However, if there are white men in my age group who still insist they feel “marginalized” as authors, and that they somehow just can’t catch a break, they apparently need to be reminded that there is no rule carved in stone anywhere that declares they are entitled to “success” just because they desire it.

In fact – and they may not want to hear this, but it is an unavoidable conclusion, too – perhaps they cannot reach a receptive reading audience simply because their books are not very good.