James Patterson apologizes for saying white male authors face ‘racism’

The bestselling author James Patterson has apologized for saying white male authors face “another form of racism”.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Patterson said white male authors faced such a problem in industries including film and publishing.

“What’s that all about? Can you get a job? Yes. Is it harder? Yes,” he said, adding: “It’s even harder for older writers. You don’t meet many 52-year-old white males.”

The 75-year-old US author has published more than 300 titles over more than 40 years. With more than 500m copies sold, his net worth stands at an estimated $800m, according to a 2018 Forbes ranking.

Among those to contest Patterson’s comments, the bestselling author Roxane Gay tweeted: “James Patterson of all people. First of all, write your own books, pal.”

That was a reference to Patterson’s use of ghostwriters to help write his books.

Another user tweeted: “As a librarian, all I’m saying is that my library could replace half of our James Patterson books with books by marginalized authors and we would still have more Patterson books than books by almost any other single author.”

In a diversity self-audit carried out from 2019 to 2021 by Penguin Random House, the publisher discovered that approximately 75% of contributors were white, 6% were Black and 5% were Hispanic. Additionally, 74.2% of employees at Penguin were white, with only 9.1% being Hispanic and 4.9% Black.

In a similar survey published by the New York Times in 2020, only 11% of books written in 2018 were by authors of color.

On Tuesday, Patterson tweeted: “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.”

Last week, the New York Times revealed that instead of pushing his father-in-law Donald Trump to concede defeat to Joe Biden in the 2020 election, Jared Kushner took an online MasterClass from Patterson to inform work on his own memoirs.

“In the course of a two-week stretch after the election,” the Times said, Kushner “secretly batted out 40,000 words of a first draft”.

In his MasterClass, Patterson, who has written two crime thrillers with the former president Bill Clinton, promises to teach aspiring writers “how to create characters, write dialogue, and keep readers turning the page”.

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