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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hey, Kanye. Lay the fuck off of us authors

Hey, Kanye, lay the fuck off of us authors

By Russell Brooks

Neck-related sprains surely rose across the planet this morning due to the number of double-takes readers (and authors) would have done after having read the latest news about Kanye West. The Grammy Award-winning artist and “proud” non-reader has produced a book. I specify the word, produced, because West did not write the book himself. It was written by J. Sakiya Sandifer. What is shocking is not the fact that he has produced a book as so much that he has shown complete disrespect for books and inadvertently to thousands of authors. For this reason, I would like to illustrate the importance of reading and how Kanye could benefit from doing so more often.

William Kamkwamba

Most of us probably have not heard of this young 21 year-old genius from Malawi (Most likely because he has not committed an act of mass genocide). In 2002, his country was plagued with disease and a serious drought. Coming from a family of 20, he was forced to drop out of school because his parents could not afford the $80 school fee. At the age of 14, rather than accept his fate and starve, he borrowed books from the library and taught himself the physics of electricity. Having nothing to work with but old spare parts from the junk yard to work with, he built a primitive windmill. Yes, he was laughed at by his neighbours. But according to him, once he had generated electricity for his family, the entire village was lining up at his house to charge their mobile phones.

Everyone that is pissed off at their insurance company for not paying benefits that they expected

I’m sorry, but this is a topic that I cannot get away from because despite the amount of literate and educated people out there, there are still too many people that don’t read contracts. My previous essay dealt with me illustrating to a 70 year-old woman how she got swindled by an unscrupulous agent from a competing insurance company. The fact remains that people don’t read their insurance contracts or re-read the specifics of their contracts regularly to refresh their memories on what they purchased. Fact (and I invite everyone that reads this to write this down and place it where you can see it every day): Insurance companies never pay a penny more or a penny less than what’s written on the contracts that a policyholder signs. It is up to the policyholder to learn the specifics of their contract. If they can’t do it, then have a licensed professional explain the specifics to them.

Kanye West

Above it is illustrated how reading has changed the life of a poor 14 year old that knew very little of the internet, CNN, or much of the world outside his village. By the same token it is also illustrated why more educated and well-to-do individuals who earn more money in an hour than what Kamkwamba’s family earn in a month, should read more. You have some excellent songs, I will not deny it. I have never turned off the radio or changed stations when I hear one of your songs. But for you to say: “I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book’s autograph” while you want other people to purchase and read yours, just illustrates how much you’re an immature, very low-class individual with too much money to spend. I may not be able to write out a check for 1 million dollars like you can. Neither do I have the fan base nor the publicity engine that you have that allows you to travel the world in first class and stay in five star hotels. But I plan to get to that level one day. It shouldn’t be too complicated. I’ll just keep reading, much of which will be about you. That way I can be sure not to fuck up like you have.


Russell Brooks is the author of the upcoming action/thriller, Pandora’s Succession. Visit to subscribe for free to listen to excerpts from chapters 1 to 3.


  1. Here Here! I never understand why anyone would be proud to be a non-reader. And I have a particular distaste for all the 'celeb-lit' on the shelves of bookshops. Can't disagree with anything you have said here at all.

  2. The sad reality of the publishing world is that publishers put profit before talent. Is it fair? I don't think it is, at least to talented writers who just want a fair chance in an unfair world. Hopefully book buyers will learn to understand this and eventually purchase less Celebrity Books and invest more in more credible works of fiction and non-fiction to shift the trend back to where it should be