James Patterson, a white male writer who has been named the world’s highest-paid author three times, is worried about racism against white male writers. In a recent Sunday Times interview, the author said the struggle for white men to find writing jobs in film, television, theater, and publishing was “just another form of racism.”
“What’s that all about?” Patterson asked, apparently without a hint of irony. “Can you get a job? Yes. Is it harder? Yes. It’s even harder for older writers. You don’t meet many 52-year-old white males.”
Maybe Patterson was confused about not meeting many successful 52-year-old writers since he himself, who boasts a net worth of $80 million according to Forbes, is 75. Of course, Jeff Kinney, the 51-year-old author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series who also appears in Forbes’ highest-paid authors list, would likely be offended by his statement.
This whole unfortunate diatribe began because The Times pointed out that Patterson achieved early success by writing about a Black detective in his Alex Cross series. Patterson was quick to minimize that point, however, arguing, “I just wanted to create a character who happened to be Black. I would not have tried to write a serious saga about a Black family. It’s different in a detective story because plot is so important.”
Update: Patterson later issued a statement on Tuesday, June 14th, apologizing for his comments. “I apologize for saying white male writers having trouble finding work is a form of racism,” he wrote on Twitter. “I absolutely do not believe that racism is practiced against white writers. Please know that I strongly support a diversity of voices being heard — in literature, in Hollywood, everywhere.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Patterson continued to put his foot in his mouth by lamenting Hatchette Book Group’s decision not to publish Woody Allen’s memoir back in 2020. After news of the book release prompted online backlash and an employee walkout, the publisher pulled the project, which later found a new home at Arcade Publishing.
“I hated that. He has the right to tell his own story,” Patterson said of the Allen controversy, adding, “I’m almost always on the side of free speech.”
See (and cringe) Patterson exercise his own right to free speech by reading the full Sunday Times interview here. The author recently released a memoir of his own, and before that, he dropped Run Rose Run, a novel he co-wrote with Dolly Parton that will soon be adapted into a film.
I apologize for saying white male writers having trouble finding work is a form of racism. I absolutely do not believe that racism is practiced against white writers. Please know that I strongly support a diversity of voices being heard—in literature, in Hollywood, everywhere.
— James Patterson (@JP_Books) June 14, 2022