There has been some discussion in the blogosphere about the cover of the US Advance Reading Copy of Justine Larbalestier's Liar, which shows a white girl with glossy straight hair (in the book the narrator is "black with nappy hair, which she wears natural and short"). JL's comments (via Jenny Davidson) here.
This made me laugh. When I wrote The Last Samurai, I wanted Ludo to be someone who could reasonably imagine that a very wide range of men might be his father; his appearance is never described in detail, but a Zoroastrian from the city formerly known as Bombay, a Robert Donat lookalike, says Ludo looks exactly the way he himself looked at that age.
Robert Donat in his prime:
Cover of first edition of Le dernier samourai:
Which just goes to show how blinkered we can be by our preconceptions.
I should emphasise that Laffont went to extraordinary lengths to publish this technically challenging book well, and used a translator, Pierre Guglielmina, of exceptional gifts. And also came up with this terrific cover for the livre de poche:
All the same, I loved the cover by Egil, the Norwegian designer:
His father could be just about anyone.
(My Norwegian editor, Birgit Bjerk, told me that Egil loves brown; every once in a while she persuades him to let her have a flash of blue, but for the most part Egil's passion for brown-dominated colorways prevails. I can see how this could be demoralising for an editor, but I did think it was a wonderful cover.)