A philosopher once said, “all we do is win, win, win no matter what.” Now, in the wake of the endless discussions over representation in the book publishing community, a win has finally come for Latinx authors: Following the disastrous release of American Dirt, a book that prompted discussions of both its own and industry failures, the publishing world is finally taking at least some action to course correct.
The Latinx authors behind #DignidadLiteraria, a movement to increase Latinx representation in literature, and Presente.org, a group focused on amplifying Latinx voices and cultures have won what they describe as an “unprecedented commitment” from Macmillan USA, whose imprint Flatiron Books published American Dirt. The publishing house has promised to shift the demographics of its staff and published authors, including “substantial increases” in Latinx representation, according to a statement released by Presente.org.
Though Macmillan didn’t specify numbers, they committed to increasing the number of Latinx people across its “authors, staff, and its overall literary ecosystem,” which will be released as part of an action plan Macmillan USA in the next 90 days. They also agreed to an additional meeting in 30 days with #DignidadLiteraria and other Latinx groups to “assess progress” of these goals.
Though the commitment may seem vague, it’s a tremendous step forward, especially considering Macmillan USA is one of the largest publishing houses in the United States, with a vast and wide-ranging collection. Depending on how the new plan rolls out, Macmillan’s shift might set a new industry example for other publishers, who, barring a desire to do the right thing, no doubt fear a major publicity scandal. “Today, we urge leaders across the publishing industry at large not to wait until their hand is forced to actuate these changes,” a release from #DignidadLiteraria and Presente.org read. American Dirt author Jeanine Cummins, who claims Latinx heritage, has not yet commented on this auspicious occasion.
Update, 3:05 pm: Roberto Lovato, a Latinx journalist who co-founded #DignidadLiteraria, stated on Twitter that during the meeting with Macmillan and Flatiron Books it was confirmed that Jeanine Cummins has not received death threats—despite a statement by Flatiron Books that said the reason for canceling Cummins’s book tour was because of safety concerns related to “threats.” Flatiron Books and Macmillan USA have not posted a response.