Queer authors of colour left ‘humiliated’ after magazine mixes up their pictures

Lily Wakefield May 4, 2021
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The Bookseller

The Bookseller mixed up gay authors of colour Adam Silvera and Mohsin Zaidi in its latest issue. (Twitter/ junodawson and Twitter/ philipdsjones)

The Bookseller magazine made the “humiliating” mistake of confusing two queer authors of colour in a special “LGBT+ spotlight” issue.

The latest issue of the print magazine, which came out on 30 April, featured an interview with Puerto Rican author Adam Silvera, who wrote the best-selling books They Both Die at the End and Infinity Son. 

However, the huge photo included in the two-page spread was not, in fact, of Silvera, as the magazine had confused him with Pakistani barrister and author Mohsin Zaidi, who wrote the coming-of-age memoir A Dutiful Boy.

In a statement on the mix-up, Zaidi said: “It is humiliating to have written a piece in the very same issue about the gatekeepers of the book world, the power in giving diverse voices a platform and thanking the industry.

“Inclusion is not a box-ticking exercise. No amount of diversely themed editions of a magazine is going to dull the need for real and meaningful reform.

“Minorities are not window-dressing, which is, unfortunately, the distinct impression one is left with when a working culture fails to instill the importance of being able to tell the difference between someone who is South Asian and (a very talented) person who is Latinx.”

Silvera added on Twitter: “What sucks about this The Bookseller business is that there’s no attention on the article itself which is highlighting the success of a story about queer Latinos by a queer Puerto Rican.

“Really hope The Bookseller can make this right.”

Philip Jones, editor of The Bookseller, swiftly responded to Silvera and said he had emailed the author’s publisher to apologise.

He added: “We corrected the online version then, with the version attached. Please accept my apology; it was entirely my fault, not [journalist] Matthew Todd’s and I am happy to re-run the piece next week in print again.”

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