James Patterson Quickly Backtracks

He's sorry he said white male writers face racism
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 13, 2022 5:30 PM CDT
Updated Jun 15, 2022 2:31 AM CDT
James Patterson Says White Male Writers Face Racism
Dolly Parton, left, and James Patterson discuss their collaboration on "Run, Rose, Run." The novel was published in 2022. Parton simultaneously released an album of the same name, consisting of 12 original songs she was inspired by the book to write, record, and produce.   (Photo by Jack Plunkett/Invision/AP)

(Newser) Update: James Patterson is apologizing after a comment he made in a recent interview didn't go over well. "I apologize for saying white male writers having trouble finding work is a form of racism," the author tweeted Tuesday. "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." Our original story from Monday follows:

Author James Patterson's prolific career was founded on 29 crime thrillers featuring a Black detective named Alex Cross. "I just wanted to create a character who happened to be Black," he told Sarah Baxter in an interview with the Sunday Times on the occasion of Patterson’s new self-titled memoir. Patterson pondered racism in Hollywood, including a period "where there was all this [Black] talent and nobody got hired.” Now, he thinks white male writers face discrimination in film, theater, TV, and publishing in general. It’s "just another form of racism," he said. "Can you get a job? Yes. Is it harder? Yes."

Patterson also discussed Jeffrey Epstein, about whom he wrote a scorching nonfiction book in 2016 called Filthy Rich. Of Epstein's deeds and the famous people in his Rolodex, Patterson says, "I know they didn't know. Why would Epstein tell people?" Those famous people include Bill Clinton; the two are close friends and have cowritten two thrillers. Patterson also heaped praise on Dolly Parton, his coauthor for Run, Rose, Run, which is slated to be adapted for film, something Patterson has always longed for. "Just once, I'd like to stand up and cheer for one of my books on the silver screen," he said.

Per Publisher’s Weekly, Patterson is the top-selling author of the past 17 years, thanks largely to his extraordinary number of titles. Nowadays, most are collaborations; Patterson develops detailed outlines, but others add the meat. He is often derided for a formulaic, pulpy approach aimed solely at making money, and he is very rich, indeed. Patterson is sensitive to such criticism, especially as a former "full-blown, know-it-all literary snob." But he doesn't dwell on it in his memoir, which New Yorker reviewer Laura Miller regards as "a grab bag of anecdotes." However, Miller does note that “for a commercial novel written by a white man in the early 1990s," its treatment of Alex Cross "is notably alert to structural racism and what are now called microaggressions." (Read more James Patterson stories.)

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