In an effort to get black British writers the recognition they deserve, Bernardine Evaristo, the Booker prize-winning novelist and author of Girl, Woman, Other, is leading a project dedicated to republishing books by Black British authors. The project is focusing on novels that disappeared from the media before they were able to get their deserved recognition.
The series is called, “Black Britain, Writing Back” and launches in February, which will be perfect for Black history month here in the US! Evaristo’s goal with the series is “to correct historic bias in British publishing and bring a wealth of lost writing back into circulation.” She is doing this with the initial launch by republishing six titles ranging from literary thrillers to historical fiction with updated introductions written by Evaristo as well.
Due to the current social climate of the world, there has been a greater interest in Black British history and stories that Evaristo recognizes. She told the observer:
There is more awareness that there are stories out there from all kinds of communities that are definitely worth engaging with. I wanted to bring back into the light and into circulation books that I think are really important, powerful books. One of the things we’ve had against us as Black British writers is that people haven’t been that interested in our stories.
Additionally, in the summer of 2020, she was part of a group of Black authors who joined the Black writer’s guild demanding that the publishing industry address the inequalities and lack of diversity in staff and production. Evaristo also brings insight into a different perspective. She acknowledges that the issue with the lack of popularity and success amongst black British authors involves other factors such as marketing. Literary festivals have been known not to be receptive towards black British authors and they are the biggest platform for authors to showcase their work.
The series publisher, Hamish Hamilton from Penguin Random House, says the project is a “landmark” publication of “lost or hard-to-find books, now rediscovered, by Black writers who wrote about Black Britain and the diaspora across the last century”.
The six initial titles being featured in the project are:
Jacqueline Roy’s The Fat Lady Sings, SI Martin’s Incomparable World, CLR James’s Minty Alley, Nicola Williams’s Without Prejudice, Judith Bryan’s Bernard and the Cloth Monkey, and Mike Phillips’s The Dancing Face.
Bernardine Evaristo’s project is something to look forward to for next month and is a positive step forward for the future of publishing! It is exciting to have these books get the spotlight and for black authors to get the recognition they deserve. With the lack of diversity in the publishing world, this project is not only opening up opportunities for black authors but also encouraging the conversation of diversity in publishing. I, for one, am very excited about the release of this project and can’t wait to see all its success. Will you be checking out any of the books?