The Post Millennial:
When publisher Reycraft, who is Asian, wouldn’t comply with Pottle’s ask to pull the “Orientalist” drawings, the author took to social media to sabotage the book, telling people not to buy it.
Reycraft: “To characterize the image, which is a fun celebratory depiction of a Japanese girl in a festive yukata, as racist is flawed and problematic in my opinion.”
It’s every author’s dream to see their book in print. But for Canadian author Adam Pottle, that dream turned into a nightmare when he opened up his new children’s book, fresh off the presses from Reycraft, and realized to his horror that his own book was racist.
The issue for Pottle wasn’t with his own words, but with the illustrations in The Most Awesome Character in the World. Two reviews called out an illustration in the book that “unfortunately plays into Asian stereotypes.” Publisher Sera Reycraft is Asian, and stands by the artwork.
“When I first saw the illustrations, I felt sick,” Pottle said from his home in Kamloops, BC. The drawing in question shows an Asian character wearing a yukata, with her hair styled in twin buns. This, he believes, is racist. He alerted Reycraft that his own book was racist, and demanded that they pull the book and fix the drawings. Reycraft, who is Asian, declined to do so.
In a statement, New York based publisher Reycraft said “To characterize the image, which is a fun celebratory depiction of a Japanese girl in a festive yukata, as racist is flawed and problematic in my opinion.” But Pottle doesn’t trust the Asian publisher who approved the drawings to know whether or not the girl drawn in traditional Japanese dress is racist or not.
Pottle had a sensitivity reader in to tell him what’s what. That reader said that she was concerned about the “Orientalism” of the illustrations. Reycraft, who is Asian, has published dozens of works by Asian authors.
“I am being left out of the process,” Pottle said. “Ms. Reycraft claims they will do whatever they can to fix it, but it’s difficult for me to believe her. Neither she nor anyone from the press has communicated with me, and since they left me out of crucial stages in the process (choosing the illustrator, seeing proofs, seeing sketches), I cannot trust them at this time,” he said.