James Patterson Checks His Privilege

Twitter drags rich bestselling novelist after he claims white males have it tough

There was stiff competition from Lauren Hough, but literary Twitter’s character of the week is James Patterson, the author best known for collecting dust on your parents’ bathroom bookshelf. If you search his name today, Google has perfectly reduced the kerfuffle into one line: “James Patterson says white men face racism.”

In an interview with The Sunday Times, Patterson lamented that white men have a difficult time finding writing jobs in media and publishing, calling it “just another form of racism” and citing Woody Allen’s canceled-and-then-published memoir. “What’s that all about?” he said. “Can you get a job? Yes. Is it harder? Yes. It’s even harder for older writers. You don’t meet many 52-year-old white males.”

The responses were almost entirely one-sided against Patterson on this one and ranged from intelligent, economic arguments against his point to take-downs of his commercialized writing style and penchant for co-authoring.

Writer and editor Gina Denny cataloged the names of each white, male author on the USA Today bestseller list at this time of this writing. “White men make up 31% of the U.S. population and, whaddya know, they make up 33% of that list,” she wrote.

“James Patterson has a net worth of over 700 million dollars meanwhile BIPOC in publishing are still struggling to pay their rent and working for well under a living wage,” tweeted writer Leah Johnson. “but please tell me again how racism is hurting older white men in the industry.”

“Have we checked to see who actually wrote the quote by James Patterson?” tweeted writer Dahlia Adler.

Patterson apologized on Tuesday via Twitter, saying, “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.”

The apology, which read like PR boilerplate, didn’t impress either fans or haters. One tweeter even shared this incredible video of author Stephen King roasting Patterson on Stephen Colbert. King said it takes him about 1500 hours to write a 500-page novel before saying, “But, you know, James Patterson does one in twelve hours—actually that’s two books.”

Twitter wins again.

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Katie Smith

Katie Smith is a Philadelphia-based writer. Find her on Instagram @saddy_yankee for cat pics.

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