Last night, the French embassy in New York cancelled a book party for Carmen Callil‘s Bad Faith her account of Louis Darquier de Pellepoix, the Vichy government official who organized the deportation of French Jews to Auschwitz because of complaints over a passage in the postscript that says Israel has oppressed Palestinians. GalleyCat reports that it took just “a handful of emails for the French to lose their resolve.” One of those e-mails was from a Wall Street Journal editorial board member, who was later shocked to learn the French embassy had caved. GalleyCat met with Callil in a hastily-arranged interview at the Knopf offices “ironically enough in a conference room devoted to the Schocken imprint, which specializes in books about Jewish history and culture”:
She was politely furious about the turn of events after all, this party was one of the main reasons she’d come to the U.S. and full of scorn for the “fundamentalist Jews” whose protests had led to the cancellation, convinced none of them could possibly have had a chance to read the book. “They see the word ‘Israel’ and they ignite,” she argued. “This sort of thing isn’t good for democracy, and it’s not good for America. Isn’t this a violation of that amendment you have?”
While the French embassy is certainly no Hugo Chavez, we’d imagine a controversial U.S. debut isn’t exactly going to oppress book sales.
NOTE: She’s scheduled to appear tonight at the Strand Bookstore, where “confrontation” with protesters “is certainly within the realm of possibility.”