NEW YORK (AP) — The author of a highly-anticipated fantasy trilogy is postponing the first book as she faces allegations of racism.
Amelie Wen Zhao, whose “Blood Heir” was scheduled for June, wrote Wednesday in an online statement that she was “so sorry” for any pain she might have caused. “Blood Heir” is set in the imagined Cyrilian Empire, and was promoted as showing a world in which “oppression is blind to skin color.” Fantasy author L.L. McKinney was among the critics, tweeting that the book was “anti-black” and expressing disbelief that oppression could be colorblind.
Zhao responded that she was drawing upon Asian history, but added that she realized the subject was far broader.
“The issues around Affinite indenturement in the story represent a specific critique of the epidemic of indentured labor and human trafficking prevalent in many industries across Asia, including in my own home country,” wrote Zhen, who grew up in Beijing. “The narrative and history of slavery in the United States is not something I can, would, or intended to write, but I recognize that I am not writing in merely my own cultural context.”
Zhao’s publisher, Random House Children’s Books, issued a statement Thursday saying that “We respect Amelie’s decision, and look forward to continuing our publishing relationship with her.”