(CNN)After much backlash against her book “American Dirt,” Jeanine Cummins will not be going on the scheduled author tour to promote her novel.The announcement was made by publisher Flatiron Books, which said it made the decision because of safety concerns.”Based on specific threats to booksellers and the author, we believe there exists real peril to…
(CNN)After much backlash against her book “American Dirt,” Jeanine Cummins will not be going on the scheduled author tour to promote her novel.
The announcement was made by publisher Flatiron Books, which said it made the decision because of safety concerns.
“Based on specific threats to booksellers and the author, we believe there exists real peril to their safety,” wrote Bob Miller, president and publisher of Flatiron.
Miller also addressed the controversy surrounding the book, saying the discussion around “American Dirt” has “exposed deep inadequacies” in how the publisher addresses diversity and representation.
Miller apologized for specific issues people raised with the book and its rollout, including saying Cummins’ husband was a undocumented immigrant without specifying he is from Ireland, and using barbed wire as decor at its bookseller dinner, matching part of the book’s jacket design.
“We can now see how insensitive those and other decisions were, and we regret them,” Miller wrote.
The announcement doesn’t mean all speaking engagements are off, though. Miller wrote that Flatiron would organize a series of town hall meetings with Cummins and those who raised concerns about the book in order to create a dialogue.
“We believe that this provides an opportunity to come together and unearth difficult truths to help us move forward as a community,” he said, concluding the statement.
The debate over ‘American Dirt’
The controversy surrounding “American Dirt” hit the mainstream when Oprah Winfrey announced it as her book club pick last week.
The novel follows the story of a Mexican woman and her son fleeing to the United States after a drug cartel massacre.
Cummins, who spent five years writing the book, isn’t Mexican or a migrant. The book, which was just published January 21, immediately sparked debate about who can tell what story and diversity within the publishing industry.
It also faced criticism for its reliance on migrant stereotypes, with many pointing out that if an author is going to write about someone different from them, it must be done well.
“American Dirt,” some have said, was not — though the book has also been praised by a number of prominent authors.
Winfrey posted a video to Instagram addressing the comments, and writing, “It’s clear that we need to have a different kind of conversation about American Dirt and we welcome everyone’s thoughts and opinions in our community.”
Nearly 100 writers — including renowned poet Ada Limón, Rebecca Solnit and Tommy Orange — wrote a letter to Winfrey, published on Literary Hub, asking for the book to be removed as her book club pick. They argued that “American Dirt” is not deserving of such an influential stamp of approval.