Culture critic and "Bad Feminist" author Roxane Gay told Buzzfeed News yesterday (January 25) that she split with her next book’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, over its deal with infamous right-wing journalist Milo Yiannopoulos.
The Hollywood Reporter first revealed in late December that Yiannopoulos signed a $250,000 book deal with Simon & Schuster’s conservative-leaning imprint Threshold Editions. "When the announcement about Milo’s book first came out, I was relieved because I thought I didn’t have a book with Simon & Schuster and tweeted something to that effect," said Gay to Buzzfeed News. "Then I remembered my TED Book and that TED is an imprint of Simon & Schuster." TED Books slated Gay’s "How to be Heard" for publication in March 2018. It is still listed on Simon & Schuster’s website.
"I was supposed to turn the book in this month and I kept thinking about how egregious it is to give someone like Milo a platform for his blunt, inelegant hate and provocation," she continued. "I just couldn’t bring myself to turn the book in. My editor emailed me last week and I kept staring at that email in my inbox and finally over the weekend I asked my agent to pull the book."
Buzzfeed News obtained and published a letter from Simon & Schuster’s CEO Carolyn Reidy addressing controversy over Yiannopoulos’ book on Monday (January 23). Reidy wrote to concerned authors that "neither Threshold Editions nor any other of our imprints will publish books that we think will incite hatred, discrimination or bullying."
But Gay stood by her decision. "Though TED Books and Threshold are vastly different imprints, they both reside within Simon & Schuster and so I guess I’m putting my money where my mouth is," she elaborated to Buzzfeed News. "Milo has every right to say what he wants to say, however distasteful I and many others find it to be. He doesn’t have a right to have a book published by a major publisher but he has, in some bizarre twist of fate, been afforded that privilege. So be it. I’m not interested in doing business with a publisher willing to grant him that privilege."
Despite Reidy’s assertion, Yiannopoulos’ fame stems from his history of internet bullying. After previous suspensions, Twitter banned the British journalist for encouraging his followers to attack actress Leslie Jones ("Ghostbusters") with racist and sexist vitriol. Yiannopoulos works for Breitbart Media, the conservative outlet formerly run by alt-right figurehead and current Donald Trump advisor Steve Bannon.
Neither Simon & Schuster nor Yiannopoulos commented on the matter.