Update: Woody Allen's memoir will no longer be published.
This news came after a public outcry against the book. On Thursday, over 100 protesters gathered in Rockefeller Plaza outside of the publishing company Hachette's offices.
They were there to make three demands of Michael Pietsch, the chief executive: First, that he rescind his decision to publish Woody Allen's memoir, second that he apologize for approving its publication in the first place, and third that he "recognize that Hachette employees have the ability to speak up about books they disagree with without fear of reprisal," as The New York Times reported.
"This afternoon, Grand Central Publishing employees are walking out of the Hachette New York office in protest of the publication of Woody Allen's memoir," said employees in an email. "We stand in solidarity with Ronan Farrow, Dylan Farrow, and survivors of sexual assault."
Woody Allen has been the subject of multiple sexual misconduct allegations, and most notably he was accused of molesting his daughter Dylan Farrow in the 1990s. Though Allen has denied the accusations and was never convicted, Farrow has stood by her statements and has been supported by her brother, Ronan. On Tuesday, the two released passionate statements in protest to news of the book's release.
Allen's memoir, Apropos of Nothing, was slated to come out on April 7. In response to the protest, a Hachette spokeswoman wrote in a Thursday evening email, "We respect and understand the perspective of our employees who have decided to express their concern over the publication of this book. We will engage our staff in a fuller discussion about this at the earliest opportunity."
"At HBG we take our relationships with authors very seriously, and do not cancel books lightly," she said on Friday. "We have published and will continue to publish many challenging books," she continued, but last minute listening sessions had led "to the conclusion that moving forward with publication would not be feasible".
While of course these employees all had the right to protest, there is some debate over whether or not the memoir should've been published.
According to Suzanne Nossel, the chief executive of PEN America, "We believe everyone — including authors and publishing employees — has the right to express their opinions and raise their voices in protest. That said," she noted, "we also are concerned about the trend of pressuring the withdrawal of books from publication and circulation, depriving readers of the chance to make their own judgments and disincentivizing publishers from taking on contentious topics. While we don't take a position on the editorial judgments in question, we think that once a book is slated for publication, it should not be withdrawn just because it's controversial or gives rise to vociferous objections."
It all comes back to the classic question: Can you separate the art from the artist, and at what point are they inextricable? When does a critique based in social solidarity or ideology become censorship? And aren't the biases inherent in the publishing industry their own forms of censorship as these biases tend to favor certain voices and faces (namely, established voices who will make money) above others? Perhaps this will all lead to a deeper conversation on both sides about who has the right to tell what story.
In the end, it's important to remember that although Woody Allen's memoir was pulled from the shelves, the man is still doing just fine, while abuse survivors continue to suffer even if their abusers are brought to justice.
This article was updated from an earlier version on Friday, March 6.