Gay parts with publisher over deal with far-right pundit


NEW YORK — Angered with her publisher for giving a platform to the “blunt, inelegant hate” of far-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, author Roxane Gay has withdrawn a planned book with Simon & Schuster.

Gay confirmed to The Associated Press on Wednesday that she will not be releasing “How to Be Heard” through Simon & Schuster’s TED imprint, which had scheduled the book for 2018. Gay is known for such works as the essay collection “Bad Feminist” and the novel “An Untamed State.” TED, a partnership with the backers of TED talks, specializes in nonfiction books “long enough to fully explore a powerful idea yet designed to be read in a single sitting,”

Gay said that Yiannopoulos, whose “Dangerous” comes out in March, had a right to express his views, but not to have a book deal with a major publisher.

“(H)e has, in some bizarre twist of fate, been afforded that privilege,” she told BuzzFeed News. “So be it. I’m not interested in doing business with a publisher willing to grant him that privilege. I am also fortunate enough to be in a position to make this decision. I recognize that other writers aren’t and understand that completely.”

Gay added that she hoped “How to Be Heard” would be published “someday.”

Simon & Schuster did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Yiannopoulos’ book set off a furious debate from the moment it was announced last month. The Breitbart News editor is known for his vicious rhetoric about feminism, Islam and race among other subjects and was banned from Twitter last year after leading a harassment campaign against “Ghostbusters” star Leslie Jones. More than 100 Simon & Schuster writers have denounced the deal with the publisher’s conservative Threshold Editions imprint, which has published books by President Donald Trump and former Vice President Dick Cheney. Free speech advocates, including the National Coalition Against Censorship, have defended Simon & Schuster.

Earlier this week, CEO Carolyn Reidy sent a letter to Simon & Schuster authors saying that the publisher does not “condone” and would not release “hate speech.” She promised that his book “would adhere to the standards” she had articulated.

The controversy initially sent “Dangerous” to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list. But interest has since slowed down and the book was No. 882 as of Wednesday evening.