This essay is concerned with the lack of diversity in the Australian publishing industry, especially in relation to race and ethnicity. It traces the limitations I faced in creating and administering the 2016 Stella Diversity Survey and discusses my own fraught position in this role, given my racial and ethnic background as well as my privileged position within academia. Because of the lack of statistics on the race/ethnicity of writers and others working in the Australian publishing industry, the essay will draw on work that has been done in the US around issues of diversity within their publishing industry. While there are differences between the two countries some comparisons than can be made. This essay postulates that due to a lack of racial and ethnic diversity within the decision-making bodies in the Australian literary industry, canonical ideas about ‘great’ writing continue to be aligned with the work of white male writers. This leads to a situation in which writing by writers of colour must be deemed to be suitably exotic to be considered for publication, let alone be reviewed, win literary prizes or be included in other canon-forming processes. This continues to marginalise and exoticise writers of colour in Australia and leads to a lack of diversity within the Australian literary industry.
By Natalie Kon-yu, 2018