Updated Fri., Nov. 21, 11:45 p.m. EST: Dan Handler, better known as Lemony Snicket, issued yet another apology on Friday for a joke he made while hosting the National Book Awards ceremony about black author Jaqueline Woodson being allergic to watermelon.
In his new apology, as a gesture of good intentions, Handler donated $10,000 to We Need Diverse Books, and agreed to match any donations made in the next 24 hours up to $100,000, to support authors like Woodson and books about people of color.
Handler’s initial attempt at a joke at the awards ceremony went off poorly, earning him grave social media backlash. However, his new attempts at making peace have received more positive reactions on Twitter:
Author Daniel Handler, better known by his pen name, Lemony Snicket, is facing a social media backlash after making a crude watermelon joke about fellow writer Jacqueline Woodson, who is African American, the Washington Post reports.
According to the Post, Handler, who served as host at the National Book Awards ceremony Wednesday, publicly marveled at Woodson’s apparent allergy to watermelon, then made a joke after Woodson accepted the prize for young people’s literature for her novel Brown Girl Dreaming.
“I told Jackie she was going to win,” Handler quipped. “And I said that if she won, I would tell all of you something I learned about her this summer—which is that Jackie Woodson is allergic to watermelon. Just let that sink in your mind.”
The audience in attendance, the Post notes, offered skittish murmurs and laughs at the joke as Handler continued, in apparent amusement, to say that he had pushed for Woodson to put that particular information in a book, then said that he should put it in his own book.
“I said, ‘I’m only writing a book about a black girl who’s allergic to watermelon if I get a blurb from you, Cornel West, Toni Morrison and Barack Obama saying, ‘This guy’s OK, this guy’s fine,’” Handler added.
Handler has since apologized on Twitter.
“My job at last night’s National Book Awards … was to shine a light on tremendous writers, including Jacqueline Woodson, and not to overshadow their achievements with my own ill-conceived attempts at humor. I clearly failed, and I’m sorry,” he tweeted.
As the Post notes, in the direct aftermath, Handler’s comments weren’t well-received:
Read more at the Washington Post.