Alice Sebold’s publisher Scribner is pulling her 1999 memoir Lucky from shelves after a man was cleared of the rape at the heart of it.
Anthony Broadwater was convicted of raping Sebold in 1982, and spent 16 years in prison. He was exonerated last week after a re-examination of the case found serious flaws in his arrest and trial.
Lucky, which was published in 1999, sees Sebold recount how she was raped and beaten at the age of 18, in a tunnel near her university campus. She writes of how she saw a Black man in the street months later who she believed to be her attacker. After Broadwater was arrested, she failed to identify him in an identity parade, but identified him as her rapist on the witness stand. Microscopic hair analysis by an expert also tied him to the crime, but such analysis has since been deemed junk science.
Sebold’s publisher Scribner issued a statement on Tuesday announcing that Lucky would be pulled while Sebold looked at revising it. “Following the recent exoneration of Anthony Broadwater, and in consultation with the author, Scribner and Simon & Schuster will cease distribution … while Sebold and Scribner together consider how the work might be revised,” said the publisher. Pan Macmillan, Sebold’s UK publisher, has confirmed that it will be pulling the title too.
Sebold herself also apologised to Broadwater, saying that her “goal in 1982 was justice – not to perpetuate injustice … And certainly not to forever, and irreparably, alter a young man’s life by the very crime that had altered mine.”
“I am grateful that Mr Broadwater has finally been vindicated, but the fact remains that 40 years ago, he became another young Black man brutalised by our flawed legal system. I will forever be sorry for what was done to him,” she said in a statement. “It has taken me these past eight days to comprehend how this could have happened. I will continue to struggle with the role that I unwittingly played within a system that sent an innocent man to jail. I will also grapple with the fact that my rapist will, in all likelihood, never be known, may have gone on to rape other women, and certainly will never serve the time in prison that Mr Broadwater did.”
In a statement to Entertainment Weekly, issued through his lawyers, Broadwater said: “I’m relieved that she has apologised. It must have taken a lot of courage for her to do that. It’s still painful to me because I was wrongfully convicted, but this will help me in my process to come to peace with what happened.”