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    The internet thinks Elizabeth Gilbert’s decision to pause her book was not a good one.

    Janet Manley

    June 13, 2023, 1:16pm

    Monday, June 12th, began with two literature-related tweets. One noted the replacement of newspapers in a bodega with a wall of Welch’s fruit gummies. “This says a lot about society,” went the tweet, which to be frank I don’t have a read on.

    The other was a video post from Elizabeth Gilbert, the bestselling novelist who is most widely known for Eat, Pray, Love, but which Gilbert fans typically rank below some of her other novels. Gilbert addresses her fans as “Dear Ones.”

    In the video, she announced that she would push back publication of The Snow Forest, a forthcoming February 2024 title from Riverhead Books about a Soviet family who escape into the forest, after an “overwhelming” amount of criticism on Twitter and Goodreads from Ukrainian users.

    That was really all the information the internet had. There appears to be no statement from Riverhead at this point on Tuesday, June 13th.

    However, we have thinkpieces on The Atlantic, Unherd, and PEN America, and a steady stream of “Liz noooo”-s on Twitter:

    Trying to parse the politics is difficult, since everyone comes to the news with slightly different monocle affixed to the eye peering into The Portal. There are those purporting to be Ukrainian reviewers of the book on Goodreads (suspicious, since there is no book yet). There are those standing up for fictional stories about the Soviet Union a century prior the current iteration of a centuries-old shuffling of borders around the place we currently call Russian Siberia. There are those who genuinely wonder if a story about a reclusive forest family might accidentally perpetuate a pro-Putin viewpoint in novel form. There are those who wonder where the indigenous Siberian representation in the novel is. Then there are those who don’t want to read the novel particularly but feel it should be published on schedule for the good of the arts. (And some who feel bad for Riverhead.)

    And that’s before we dig into the realm of subtweets, which read a bit like ChatGPT swallowed the Norton Anthology of Criticism.

    The February 2024 pub date overlaps with the February 24th two-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which came a few years after Russia’s 2014 invasion and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. That appears to perhaps have prompted a campaign to mass review-bomb the title’s page on Goodreads with one-star reviews, based on the brief synopsis provided by the marketing department. Gilbert’s decision appears to be her own—I cannot find a statement otherwise from Riverhead—presumably something she can afford to do if, as a proven entity, she has other book projects on the boil to sub into the calendar.

    We’d like to open the telephone lines and allow you to drop your best take on the situation below. If you would like to let us know your stance on The Saint, that would also be okay.

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