Media24 Books has released a statement in the wake of the outcry over the lack of diversity in this year’s Media24 Books Literary Awards.
The awards, worth over R200,000 in total, consist of six prizes given to books published by Media24 Books, which includes NB Publishers (through imprints such as Human and Rousseau, Tafelberg, Kwela Books and Queillerie) and Jonathan Ball Publishers.
After The JRB published a news report on the 2020 award winners, the article drew a strong reaction on social media, with many condemning the fact that all the winners, as well as the majority of the shortlisted authors and judging panels, were white.
The JRB published a follow-up story in which a number of writers shared their perspectives on the controversy, and in which we acknowledged our lack of explicit scrutiny in our initial news report:
The Media24 Books statement, while apologising for the lack of diversity in the judging panels, does not address the deeper structural imbalances in South African publishing made evident by the awards. The full statement is below.
Eloise Wessels, MD of Media24 Books, has, however, informed The JRB that the company is doing further work to ‘resolve the issue constructively’.
Statement from Media24 Books:
We acknowledge that the lack of diversity in the judging panels of the Media24 Literary Prizes is unacceptable. We take the feedback and criticism from our fellow citizens and the literary community to heart and we will actively address the issues to avoid a repeat of this oversight in future.
We strongly condemn any form of discrimination and remain committed to promoting a workplace and a society that is inclusive and diverse.
We made a mistake for which we sincerely apologise and are committed to setting it right in future.
This is a developing story. Keep an eye on The JRB for further updates.