John Boyne: Modern Publishers Paralyzed by Social Media Wokesters


Award-winning author John Boyne has said publishers are afraid to publish difficult children’s books for fear of “wokesters” on social media.

Boyne was speaking to Sean Moncrieff as he released the sequel to his internationally bestselling novel ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’.

The new novel titled “All the Broken Places” returns to one of the story’s central characters, Gretel Fernsby, nearly eighty years after the events of the first book.

Boyne told Seán he had a sequel in mind from the moment he finished the first draft of the original novel.

When asked if he would consider returning to writing children’s books in the future, he said he would when he felt “the publishing industry is open again. to these kinds of ideas.

He said his six books for young readers tackle difficult topics, including war, sexuality and grief.

“These are serious adult topics, but kids go through these things earlier than they should,” he said.

“We see in the war in Ukraine for example, there are as many children involved in this war as there are adults, so we have to write these kinds of stories for young people so that they know what is happening in the world. world.”


He said young readers want to be challenged, but publishers are “worried about what social media will say” if back books deal with difficult messages.

“I think publishing is generally nervous about these kinds of books now,” he said. “I think there’s always the fear that a book will be challenged on social media by some sort of ‘wokesters’, who will look at how to drag something down before it’s even had a chance to survive.

“I don’t think it does readers or writers a great service. I think, let writers write whatever they want and let readers buy and read whatever they want and maybe everyone should stay out of that.


The Dubliner said the change is that the publishing industry has driven writers to write children’s books for adults rather than children themselves.

“Children need to learn that the world is not a perfect place,” he said. “We have to write books for them where they will see that problems will arise in life.”

Wake up

When Seán suggested that those who target the word woke are usually of a more right-wing variety, Boyne jokingly described himself as a “tree-hugging leftist liberal pinko commie”.

“I’m as left-wing as they come,” he said. “But I think you’re right that it probably shouldn’t be used in that derogatory way because the original meaning of the word was actually to have a more socially equitable world.”

“It’s a good thing obviously and it also empowers the voices that had been historically disenfranchised and that’s a good thing too, but I think sometimes it gets to a point of moral superiority on the part of people.

“Look, if you’ve been following me all day and I’m sure if I’ve been following you all day, we’re gonna say something stupid, or something we wish we hadn’t said or wouldn’t say publicly. .

“It’s just life. It’s just part of being human, but now I feel like you get jumped on and demonized for the slightest mistake and look, we’re not perfect. I’m not perfect.”

“All the Broken Places” is out today.

You can listen to John Boyne’s full interview with Sean Moncrieff here:


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