Jeanette Winterson burns books in blurb protest

Jeanette Winterson burns books in blurb protest

Author Jeanette Winterson has burned copies of her newly republished books, after saying she "hated" the blurbs on them.

On Friday (4th June), Winterson tweeted a picture of books including The Passion, Written on the Body, Art and Lies and The Powerbook being burnt.

She wrote: “Absolutely hated the cosy little domestic blurbs on my new covers. Turned me into wimmins fiction of the worst kind! Nothing playful or strange or the ahead of time stuff that’s in there. So I set them on fire.”

In a comment to the Guardian, Winterson said: "Each of those books was doing something different at the time, both with form and content."

She said: “The Passion was both a way of reimagining the historical novel and it had a cross dressed narrator. Written on the Body had a non-binary narrator. The Powerbook was an early virtual and blended reality experience, that bent time as well as gender. The blurbs had none of this and turned the books into the tame and the obvious. A friend said, ‘God, you sound like Mills & Boon!’

“The publishers are fixing the problem but these are not copies I want to keep. I gave most of them away to charity but needed a symbolic burning to raise my spirits. I am the writer I am. But I wouldn’t buy one of my books with those suburban blurbs."

Her actions received criticism from some writers, with some accusing her of a publicity stunt and others of writing off a whole genre of writing. Claire Allan wrote: “That Jeanette Winterson thinks ‘wimmin’s fiction’ can’t be playful, strange, or ahead of its time makes me think she has never actually read any ‘wimmin’s fiction’.”

Jonny Geller, of Curtis Brown, tweeted: "There’s always the option of objecting to a publisher’s approach BEFORE they print? Burning books is the wrong symbol of protest, however trivial the cause. It has a bad history to it."

The Bookseller has approached Winterson and Vintage for comment.