On Diversity

You know how some people seem to believe that just because there’s a Monica Ali or a Zadie Smith out there that somehow people of color have it easier? Rosemary Goring tackles the notion (the myth, really) of diversity in the publishing industry.

A survey published last week by The Bookseller, examining cultural diversity in book publishing UK-wide, found that only 10% of the 523 employees surveyed were from minority ethnic groups; that management was almost exclusively white; and that there were no minority ethnic authors in the top 100 books of 2003 (Monica Ali’s Brick Lane was 179th). Given that the heartland of British publishing is London, 29% of whose population is from ethnic minorities, the under-representation is glaring. It grows worse when you realise that most of these employees are confined to jobs in production and administration.

In addition, says Goring, even those who get jobs in publishing often get them because of who they know. And that’s true of authors, too.

Rushdie, for instance, got his break because he was a friend of Liz Calder, founder of Bloomsbury, who championed his second novel after the flop of his first, Grimus. His is a rare example of the patronage system working to the advantage of an Asian.

Link via Sarah.