RITA romance awards cancelled after race row sparks author boycott

RITA romance awards cancelled after race row sparks author boycott

The Romance Writers of America (RWA) has cancelled its annual RITA awards ceremony after hundreds of authors staged a boycott over an ongoing race row.

In a statement, the organisation said so many authors and judges had pulled out this year that the ceremony would not be a true reflection of the genre.

It comes after the RWA reprimanded author Courtney Milan (pictured) after she criticised parts of Kathryn Lynn Davis’ Somewhere Lies the Moon (Pocket Books) for being a “racist mess” over the depiction of Chinese women.

The organisation suspended Milan for a year, barring her from holding a leadership position for life. A furore over the move saw the resignation of its president Carolyn Jewell, members of the board and an eventual reversal of its decision.

The RWA said: "The contest will not reflect the breadth and diversity of 2019 romance novels/novellas and thus will not be able to fulfill its purpose of recognising excellence in the genre.

"For this reason, the board has voted to cancel the contest for the current year. The plan is for next year's contest to celebrate 2019 and 2020 romances."

Milan tweeted that cancelling the RITAs was "the first right decision I’ve seen RWA make in this whole debacle".

Fellow romance writer Racheline Maltese commented: "RWA cancelling the RITAs is a good, responsible decision. But let’s be clear—the reason the RITAs would not have reflected the breadth and diversity of the genre is not due to marginalised authors withdrawing but due to actions by RWA that rendered such choices necessary."