A Review of a Book That Will Never Be Published, Thanks to the Young Adult Twitter Mob

AmazonAmazonYA Twitter, a social-media community dedicated to young-adult fiction, is a frequently toxic place that aggressively surveils both its members and the books they write for violations of ever-shifting social-justice rules. Last month it descended on A Place for Wolves, the young-adult author Kosoko Jackson’s debut novel.

The controversy, which was fanned and spread mostly by people who hadn’t read the book—only a limited number of advance reading copies had been circulated to that point—centered around the fact that Jackson, who is black and gay, wrote an adventure-romance centered on two foreign teenagers trying to escape Kosovo as war breaks out there, and that the villain was an ethnic Albanian Muslim. “HEY HOW ABOUT WE DONT PROMOTE OR SUPPORT BOOKS ABOUT A ROMANCE BETWEEN AND THE VICTIMIZATION OF 2 AMERICANS, SET DURING A REAL LIFE HISTORICAL GENOCIDE WHERE THE VILLAIN IS PART OF THE DEMOGRAPHIC THAT WAS ETHNICALLY CLEANSED,” read one of the tweets that spread the anger.

Some background here would help: The Hague determined that during the Kosovo War, as The New York Times summed it up, “Serbia had initiated a state-organized campaign to keep control over Kosovo through deporting or forcibly transferring a large part of the population of about two million.” Some estimates hold that 90 percent of the Albanian population of Kosovo was displaced during the war. By another estimate, about 10,500 of the war’s 13,500 victims were Albanian—many killed in a series of horrific massacres perpetrated by Serbian forces against civilians. NATO’s controversial bombing of Serbian positions in 1999 was a direct response to the ethnic cleansing of Kosovar Albanians.

So the general argument from young-adult-fiction Twitter appeared to be that because it was ethnic Albanians who were victimized most severely in the war, it was offensive to shunt their plight off to the side in favor of the story of two foreigners, and to make the villain himself Albanian.

As a result of this controversy, Jackson, who had himself done work as a sensitivity reader—and participated

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