RW Johnson…

was at a game reserve.

I swear someone was looking down on me this week. Whoever you are: thank you. And thank you too for not making me dress up in a baboon suit to hand out bananas outside the LRB bookshop. As KEB points out: that was to be my last resort. The wonderful Mr J is relieved too: Are you sure, he asked, that’s the best way to spend your time? What he didn’t know was I was going to drag him along with me, and KEB, and a few others. We would be the coming of those baboons.

Several of you have asked why I haven’t written about this. I want to say this. I had an opportunity to do a piece for The Guardian and then for someone else. But despite being sorely tempted, I decided against it. I’ve made my point with the letter and with this action and I think it’s important to know when to stop. Quit, as they say, while you’re ahead. Moreover, I don’t loathe the entirety of the LRB. One of the reasons I wrote the letter is precisely because I have had a lot of respect for the publication. I’ve had my own work published there (only once, but it’s a start) and was proud of that. However, I would like to write a longer piece about the whole experience, a thoughtful piece, that explores the many issues this nasty episode has raised, for example, the fact that the British media which occupies the left/centre-left doesn’t ‘do’ race. It does ‘do’ a bit of racism, but not race. This, for me, is deeply problematic, and is reflected in the LRB’s initial response to our letter. It seemed, reading the response, that there was an intellectual and psychological block. They were not alone: quite a few people wrote to me stating that they couldn’t see the connection or saying things like ‘but you don’t understand: the situation in South Africa is really bad’. As if that would have anything to do with our charge against RWJ! I’ve got no problem with people writing about the problems of South Africa today, none at all. Anyway. I’m considering doing a long piece on all this – one that ponders censorship, race and British publishing over several thousand words. Not 600 words of rant. All I have to do now is to find someone who’ll pay me to do it…

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