Justine Larbalestier on Liar's True Colors

Last summer the cover photo of a teenage girl on the advance reader copies (ARCs) of the American edition of Justine Larbalestier's Liar caused consternation. The first-person narrator vows to stop lying on page one, and describes herself as biracial in the first ten pages--yet the ARC cover image was of an unambiguously caucasian girl. The extra doubt suggested by the cover threatened to overbalance the delicately pitched reliability of Liar's narrator from the get-go.

Pre-Publication Alarm
Early readers and reviewers cried foul--what possible justification was there for putting a white face on the cover of a book narrated by a biracial teenager? The publisher, Bloomsbury Children's Books, did the right thing and re-shot the image (you can see the white and black covers in this article at Publisher's Weekly). The new cover is both a happy ending for Liar's US edition and the beginning of an important discussion about book marketing and race. The author does a great job of starting this discussion in an audio interview with CBC's Q radio that was recorded shortly after the cover redo, and also on her blog.

Listen to Larbalestier
You can listen to Larbalestier's interview online at CBC's (unchronological!) Q archive page--search for the podcast for August 28, 2009, and if you're not a Dolores O'Riordan of the Cranberries fan, fast forward to Minute 20, or about 25% of the way across audio bar. You can also download the audio of the Cranberries/Liar interview from CBC's Q podcast on iTunes (and kudos to CBC for keeping archived podcasts available for more than a month). Again, the Larbalestier interview begins at Minute 20 and lasts about 20 minutes.