(JTA) – Best-selling authors Elin Hilderbrand and Casey McQuiston removed references to Anne Frank and Israel from their novels this week following an outcry on social media from small subsets of readers.
The movements sparked a storm of controversy in the literary world.
The campaigns against the books have been successful although they appear to be relatively small in size and come from very different perspectives on Jews and Israel. One blames the authors for a joke perceived as anti-Semitic, while the other opposes the mere mention of Israel.
In the first case, the first edition of Hilderbrand’s new novel, “Golden Girl,” contains a line of dialogue in which two teenage girls from Nantucket discuss a plan for one of them to hide in the attic. her friend for the summer. One of the girls then jokes that she would be “like Anne Frank”.
Some readers on Instagram said the joke was anti-Semitic and demanded an apology from Hilderbrand. The author published one and announced that she would remove the passage from future editions of the book.
McQuiston, a love novelist, is taken to task for the 2019 novel “Red, White & Royal Blue”, about a romance between the son of the US president and a prince of England. The president jokes that the US ambassador to the United Nations “said something silly about Israel, and now I have to call Netanyahu and apologize personally.”
A handful of Twitter users wrote that even mentioning Israel in fiction “normalizes” the occupation of Palestine. Their complaints were amplified by a fan account of the book, which prompted McQuiston say the line would be changed for future prints. McQuiston has a new book coming out this year.
The authors’ decisions to remove passages from future editions have been criticized on Twitter by Slate Books columnist Laura Miller and many prominent authors, including Taffy Brodesser-Akner and Mark Harris, who are Jewish. Several compared the incidents to other recent campaigns against young adult novels for perceived cultural insensitivities, saying that many readers on social media have lost the ability to distinguish between a character’s point of view and that of the author.
“Complaining about other more successful writers is one of the most popular activities on Twitter, as is developing high and rigorous standards of correct speech and vigorously prosecuting, even informally, those who violate them,” Miller wrote. “What’s unusual about these two examples is how quickly the two writers gave in to what appear to be very small groups of critics.”
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