Picoult Tackles Race in Short Story, ‘Color of War’
New York — Jodi Picoult’s latest publication is a short story on a large subject: Race.
“We tend to get very itchy and uncomfortable talking about race and to me it’s exactly what we ought to be talking about,” the author of best-sellers such as My Sister’s Keeper and Nineteen Minutes said in a recent telephone interview.
Picoult’s The Color War just came out through Byliner, an online publisher that releases brief works of fiction and nonfiction, with authors ranging from Jon Krakauer to Margaret Atwood.
The Color War, an 8,000-word narrative priced at $1.99, tells of a young boy from the city sent to a Bible camp who becomes fascinated by a white counselor, Melody. Picoult said she first thought of the story 20 years ago, when she was teaching in Concord, Mass., outside of Boston, and kids were bused in for what was presumably a better education.
“I wanted to focus on that dichotomy between the good-hearted white person who is trying to offer charity and yet maybe is pushing on someone who does not want it or need it,” Picoult said. “Maybe charity is not just about what you can give, but what you can learn from a certain person. That’s something which comes up in this story.”
Books for the digital market are a natural for Picoult, whose novels, as with many popular fiction writers, often sell more in e-editions than in paper. She has already written original e-fiction for Amazon.com’s Kindle “Singles” series and tried Byliner at the suggestion of her literary agent, Laura Gross.
“I think it’s a lovely opportunity for her to join a wonderful group of writers,” Gross said. “It’s about broadening her readership and being on this beautiful new bookshelf.”