Monday News: Hong Kong publishing mystery, children’s book pulled, Avon’s 75th anniversary, and Taiwan’s “glass slipper” church
One of Hong Kong’s missing booksellers just reappeared to confess to an 12-year-old crime – With Sweden increasing its interest in the disappearance of one of the missing publishers, Gui Minhai was shown on state-run television confessing to a drunk-driving accident in which he allegedly killed a woman more than ten years ago. He indicated in the taped message that he doesn’t want any more intervention from Sweden. This has not assuaged suspicion about the disappearances, despite Minhai’s claim that he had voluntarily surrendered to authorities on the mainland.
Gui Minhai, a China-born Swedish citizen who co-owns Causeway Bay Books, was reportedly preparing to publish a book about the love life of Chinese president Xi Jinping. He went missing in October while living in Thailand—where the military junta has proven willing to deport Chinese nationals who run afoul of Beijing—and four of his colleagues have also disappeared from Hong Kong, most recently on Dec. 30.
Gui’s admission bears many of the hallmarks of public confessions in China, which are believed to be coerced by state authorities. – Quartz
Criticized Book on Washington Slave Pulled – Published on January 5th by Scholastic, A Birthday Cake for George Washington was finally withdrawn by the publisher after numerous critical responses for its seemingly unproblematic and positive portrayal of Washington’s slaves. Despite the fact that neither the book’s author and illustrator is white, the portrayal of Washington’s cook, Hercules, and his daughter, Delia, was all smiles and enthusiastic preparation of Washington’s birthday cake. The book’s author, Ramin Ganeshram, insisted that the book was “meant to honor the slaves’ skill and resourcefulness,” and that Washington respected Hercules. But as Demetria Lucas-D’Oyley argues,
How do you respect a human being that you enslave? Appreciating good cooking and complimenting a meal isn’t respect. Setting free the person you’re enslaving—and their family—is respect. And Washington didn’t do that.
Let’s unpack this further. Ganeshram is correct that humans have the capacity to be proud of their work even under the worst conditions. But is the tale of a giddy father-daughter duo on a mundane search for sugar the right way to introduce children to the foundation of American economics? I’m not saying start babies off with 12 Years A Slave or Beloved, replete with male and female rape, neck irons and whippings. I am saying we can do better than a depiction of our nation’s past (with lingering present-day influence) that plays up the misnomer of benevolent enslavers and cheerful, proud slaves. – ABC News and The Root
Avon Kicks Off 75th Anniversary With Diamond Celebration – Avon has announced that its 75th anniversary will include a number of reader events and a special publication of a vintage Woodiwiss novel. Remember the
olden days when Avon was publishing some of the Romance genre’s most cutting edge authors and books? Anyway, there’s an interesting “timeline” Avon included in its press release that is linked to above, and while there are supposed to be details on their website, I could not find anything there. According to the press release:
To celebrate the 75th anniversary – where the traditional gift is diamonds – Avon is planning year-long price promotions on key publications from their storied history. 2016 will also be marked by reader festivities and commemorative events, which will take place throughout the year. Activities include two Avon-sponsored “KissCon” reader parties, and gala signings at the RT Booklovers convention in Las Vegas (April) and the Romance Writers of America National Convention in San Diego (July). The imprint will host a variety of online events, including re-reads and reader/author discussions of the “diamonds” of Avon’s lists.
In addition, Avon will release a diamond anniversary special edition of Shanna by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, with a special foreword by Lisa Kleypas.- Fresh Fiction and Avon press release
The giant glass slipper church of Taiwan – So this is, uh, interesting. With Chinese New Year approaching, officials from the Southwest Coast National Scenic Area are preparing to open this giant blue glass church in the shape of a high-heeled shoe, with the express purpose of attracting more women. Apparently it will be primarily used for wedding and for photographs, which makes its hefty price tag even more noteworthy (T$23m; US$686,000; £477,000).
The shoe was inspired by a local story. According to officials in the 1960s, a 24-year-old girl surnamed Wang from the impoverished region suffered from Blackfoot disease. Both of her legs had to be amputated, leading to the cancellation of her wedding. She remained unmarried and spent the rest of her life at a church.
The high heel is intended to honour her memory. – BBC News