Hachette Book Group in the US has cancelled the publication of Woody Allen’s upcoming memoir, Apropos of Nothing. The move came last Friday after a staff walkout at the publisher’s offices in New York and Boston.
Vanessa Mobley, an executive editor at Little, Brown, one of HBG’s prestigious book imprints, responded to an enquiry from Time magazine with an automatic email reply that was widely echoed in its phrasing across all staff emails and social media posts: ‘‘We stand with Ronan and Dylan Farrow and survivors of sexual assault.’’
Ronan Farrow is the author of Catch and Kill, published by Little, Brown. The book detailed the way powerful men use their influence to silence accusers, with a close analysis of the Harvey Weinstein case. Dylan Farrow is Ronan’s sister. She was the subject of notorious sexual abuse allegations against her adoptive father Allen. Twice investigated but never charged, Allen has long been tainted by the allegations. A taint that was only heightened by his relationship with, and eventual marriage to Mia Farrow’s adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn.
Given this grubby history, who would want to go near Allen, let alone defend him now? PEN America for one, if only out of concerns for freedom of speech and an encroaching culture of censorship that seems to be on the rise everywhere. Chief executive, Suzanne Nossel, wrote: “This case represented something of a perfect storm. It involved not just a controversial book, but a publisher that was working with individuals on both sides of a longstanding and traumatic familial rupture. This presented unique circumstances that clearly coloured the positions staked out and decisions taken. If the end result here is that this book, regardless of its merits, disappears without a trace, readers will be denied the opportunity to read it and render their own judgments.