Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Akarans Invade France? (I'm Hoping.)

A wonderful thing just showed up in the mail today. Le pre aux clercs edition of Acacia! The timing is perfect - both because I just asked yesterday where my copies were and because the book goes on sale today! (Thanks, Carola.)

Okay, this is me taking a moment to enjoy a milestone. This is me talking to myself... "Deep breath. Acknowledge the goodness. Note the sense of accomplishment. Remember that your first published novel was written in France. Remember that I've hoped for a French publication ever sense. Now, four books in, nine years later, I'm holding that publication in my hand. Acknowledge that this feels good. Okay? Got it, David? Now... go finish The Other Lands you slacker! You've only to two weeks until you said you'd deliver it to Doubleday! Get back to work!"

I'm hoping that a few folks in France buy the book, but I can't deny the appeal of giveaways. So I'm happy to mention that is doing a contest! If you're a French reader (or just love the idea of having a French copy of the book) you can enter here. You'll have to answer a few questions in French, but I'm of the opinion that everybody should have to answer a few questions in French every now and then. It's good for you.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah David that's awesome! The book looks beautiful! :-) My fav image is of Corrin, though Dariel does look cool, too. Well done, you deserve every new language edition and accolade. :-)

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is striking. The kids are on the back and everything! Superb.

Sniff... no, really, take a good, long sniff. What is that in the air? Hm? Methinks it be the sweet, sweet smell of success.

You go. :)

1:12 AM  
Blogger Laughton and Patricia Johnston said...

I knew you were really a secret Francophile.

11:05 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Thanks. I'm hoping it's a really good cover for the French market. I don't know, but we'll see.

I have to be careful where I sniff around here. This is the time of year when people in Fresno put piles of rubbish out on the street, big objects, small objects, just piles of the stuff. Trucks eventually come by and pick it up. Eventually. So, inhaling too deeply isn't always a good idea...

Laughton, yes, and I may become much more of a Francophile soon!

11:54 AM  
Blogger Stephe ^@@^ said...

ROFL!! Just make sure you're upwind.

5:42 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

ROFL? I'm sorry, but I had to look that one up.

Got it. So now I'm ROFL-ing too!

6:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The cover arts are made by Didier Graffet, who made most of Gemmell's french editions and also the whole Black Company series at L'Atalante.
Two of his french publishers :
And a complete listing of his works :

7:06 AM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...


Thanks for the links. I'll actually do a brief post about this soon.



2:39 PM  
Anonymous Johari said...

Mr. Durham,
It's interesting to me that despite your descriptions the Akaran siblings are depicted here as rather fair skinned. I know that you addressed the fact that artist and reader interpretations will never be exactly what you see in your head, but does it bother you that your intentional creation of a multicultural and multi-ethnic world is completely ignored by some people? I just don't understand how anyone who read the book can choose to envision it in the same narrow ways that other great fantasy stories are confined. Do you have any thoughts on this?

8:14 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...


I do have thoughts on that, but they're thoughts that soften any indignation with sometimes conflicting personal interest and then mixes in the compromises of a dubious master plan and the complicating factors of the international marketplace.

Do the sketches on the back of this French edition look like the characters described in the book? No. They're whiter. Enough so that I'm not sure how you would tell the Akaran's ethnic identity from that of the Meins or the Aushenians, both of whom are the blond and fair haired races of the novel. In the book the Acacians are darker skinned than some, and lighter than others. I don't see that as having been represented by these images.

Does that keep me up at night? No. It doesn't. Perhaps it should, but I'm writing with the belief that if my work is to have any effect on the world it needs to be read, and that means I have to pick my battles carefully. I not inclined to feud with my French publisher because in so many ways they are doing wonderful things with my work. I don't have to be published in France (or in the eight other languages I'm in). Most black writers aren't. Cover design and marketing are completely out of my hands in any event. Complaining would 1) not change anything and 2) cause tension that might sour future projects.

What do I gain by this? A strong relationship with one of my most enthusiastic publishers yet. Le Pre aux Clercs published Acacia as their lead title for that season. They bought and are already translating The Other Lands. They've set up a French website, done video interviews with me, and they're flying me over to spend a week in France this May, attending a conference and promoting the book. That's not something that foreign publishers do very often. It's a big investment. And it means that I'll have face time with French readers and journalists. They'll see ME. They'll talk to me. They'll ask me about my world, about this world, about Obama... And, hopefully, through all this more and more French readers will open the book and read my story. That is still the multicultural world I created, and that is still part of what readers are connecting with.

So, short question and answer:

Q: Are those images accurate?

A: No.

Q: Then why aren't you making a fuss about it?

A: Because I've got plans that are ultimately bigger than a fight about this right now.

Now, all of that is done with the buffer of language and nationality. If my US publisher had tried to use the same images there would have been a fight. That's too close to home, and fraught with a racial politics that I understand too well.

So that's my perspective. What do you think, though? Does it makes sense to you, or does my reasoning sound compromised by self-interest?

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Johari said...

It does make perfect sense to me. And I understand that many people reading your multicultural text coupled with inaccurate images is probably more beneficial than fewer people seeing pictures of brown skinned people.

And I eagerly await the release of The Other Lands.

Thanks for the response,
Johari A. Malik

2:21 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...


Glad it makes sense.

And it's also good to be reminded to keep these issues in mind. I'd like to build Acacia into a world I can live in for a while. I think that requires speaking to a wide audience, but I also want to make sure my multi-ethnic world doesn't move diversity to the background. It can't be my #1 focus every time out, but so long as people keep allowing me to publish books I'll make sure that characters of color share a significant place in the foreground.

1:06 PM  
Blogger false1 said...

I know I'm late to the party but I just read the first book of your trilogy and really enjoyed it. Regarding the cover for your book, they actually went blond with some of the characters. This implies that either the artist, art director, and publisher didn't read the book or they made a conscience decision that dark skinned people are a turnoff for their readership. Too bad. It's one of the many micro aggressions that drive black folk crazy. Let's hope that when they do the movie they don't offer you so much loot that you overlook the racial makeup of the characters, lol.

BTW: What earthy race DO the Acacians represent? I was thinking semetic but perhaps latino or something.

Keep up the good work, I'm gearing up for book 2

6:20 PM  

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