Elizabeth Gilbert, writer of the multi-million selling book “Eat Pray Love” brought to the big screen with actress Julia Roberts, said Monday she has put the planned release of her new novel on hold following criticism that it is set in Russia, currently in conflict with Ukraine.
The decision illustrates the difficulties authors, celebrities, athletes and artists face in trying to manage the fallout from Russia’s much-criticized invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow launched on February 24, 2022.
Gilbert announced last week that “The Snow Forest” would be released early next year, but an avalanche of criticism forced her to backtrack without setting a new release date.
“I received a huge amount of responses and reactions from my Ukrainian readers who expressed their anger, regret, disappointment and pain that I chose to release a book that is set in Russia right now,” he said in a video posted on his Instagram account. .
“I heard these messages and read these messages, and I respect them. Consequently, I have changed my mind and am removing the book from the publication schedule,” he said.
“This is not the right time to publish this book. And I don’t want to add more pain to people who suffered and continue to suffer severe and extreme harm,” he said.
The novel is set in Soviet Russia in the 1930s and follows the story of a family that decides to rebel against the authoritarian government.
Despite being distant from the current situation, readers unanimously questioned the theme on the Goodreads portal.
“While Ukrainians are dying from Russian terrorism, famous writers are writing books about them and romanticizing these bastards,” wrote one of hundreds of people who left reviews with just one star.
“You write about Russia and romanticize this country that is committing genocide and ecocide in Ukraine? Shame on you! I’m disappointed in you!” wrote another reader.
The New York Metropolitan Opera had already distanced itself from Russian star Anna Netrebko last year for its previous support of President Vladimir Putin.
Russian and Belarusian athletes were banned from participating in various sporting events under their respective flags.
Gilbert cemented her career with “Eat, Pray, Love,” the story of a writer who goes on a journey of self-discovery after getting divorced.
Set in Italy, India, and Indonesia, the novel became a bestseller and sparked a small travel boom to those locations among some story-following demographics.