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Pulp and be damned: are we living in a new era of censorship in publishing?


Pulp and be damned: are we living in a new era of censorship in publishing?

This is a newsroom ThinkIn. In-person and digital only tickets are available. 

Lionel Shriver, best-selling author of several books including We Need To Talk About Kevin, has described the impact of identity politics in publishing as a ‘quasi-Soviet phenomenon’. Her response follows reports of several staff protests and walkouts at major publishers (including Little, Brown and Penguin Random House) on both sides of the Atlantic over planned publications of controversial books, either on the basis of the books’ content or the actions of their authors. The books include Ronan Farrow’s memoir, Julie Burchill’s latest book Welcome to the Woke Trials, Jordan Peterson’s latest and a biography of Philip Roth. The Evening Standard characterised the situation as a “moralistic new world”, where some authors “are deemed to have committed worse crimes than others, resulting in anything from mild censorship to accusations of insensitivity, cultural appropriation, misogyny, racism or transphobia…” The law is meant to be the ultimate arbiter of what is and isn’t acceptable to publish, but the truth is that publishing houses have always been making these calls. Are the so-called ‘culture wars’ really affecting freedom of thought and expression? Or are some books simply too offensive to publish? 

editor and invited experts

Matt d’Ancona
Editor and Partner

Helen Joyce
Journalist and author

Mark Richards
Publisher, Swift Press

Ronkwahrhakónha Dube
Sensitivity reader, Salt & Sage

Sasha White
Former assistant literary agent and Co-Founder, Plebity