I’m currently ploughing through Sherry Thomas’ Lady Sherlock series. It’s a revelation. Beautifully written, clever as all hell and presents a richly drawn 19th century England full of people from all over the British empire.
On June 6, 2020, Leatrice “Elle” McKinney, (aka L.L. McKinney, author of A Blade So Black) kicked off a Twitter conversation about publishing advances. Using the hashtag #PublishingPaidMe she asked white authors to share the advances they’d been paid for books so Black authors could get a sense of how their own advances compared. Very quickly a huge disparity between the size of payments became obvious.
Her first novel, The Hate U Give, topped the New York Times bestseller charts for over a year and birthed a star-studded film adaptation that achieved critical and commercial success. Her second novel, On the Come Up, hit store shelves in February and shot straight up the bestseller lists. Like THUG, it has been snapped up for a big-screen adaptation. There’s no question that Angie Thomas is a powerhouse of a writer. Here are 10 things you should know about her. 1. She was born in Jackson, Mississippi Mississippi has turned out a remarkable number of writers including Richard Wright, Mildred D Taylor and Jesmyn Ward. Thomas likes to joke that her home state is known for two things: writing and racism. “And I happen to be a writer who writes about racism.” Thomas grew up in Jackson’s predominantly black Georgetown neighbourhood. “I grew up hearing about black people who were killed, like Emmett Till and civil rights leader Medgar Evers. Evers actually lived in the same neighbourhood I grew up in and when he …
October 2018 was blessed. After years of longing, the stars finally aligned and I was able to pull together the funds and time to attend the Aké Arts & Book Festival. I’m only a little biased when I state with (Nigerian) pride that Aké is a bright jewel in the literary calendar. The four-day festival was friendly, well organised, inspiring and thought-provoking. What more can you ask for?
In July a writer friend posted a link to the report: Reflecting Realities – A Survey of Ethnic Representation within UK Children’s Literature 2017. The report was created by the CLPE (Centre for Literacy in Primary Education) and aimed to explore the extent and quality of ethnic representation in children’s publishing in the UK. The results were dire. The report concluded that of 9,115 children’s books published in the UK in 2017 4% featured BAME (black or ethnic minority) characters 1% had a BAME main character
I was in primary school when I first read Mildred D Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Cassie Logan was my hero. Dark skinned, kinky haired, bold and outspoken. However, her life with her three siblings, school-teacher mother, farmer father and Big Ma was something I did not envy, mired as it was by extreme poverty and violent, overt racism. It seemed a world away from my quiet life in South East London. I’ve read the novel many times since then. It has never felt dated or clichéd or simplistic. It is one of those remarkable books that will meet you whenever you are. As a child in the 1980s, I connected with the simple story– the protagonist overcoming a monster. I rooted for the family facing down the menace of racism. But it was very much like reading a fantasy novel, the spitting, clawing racism of Cassie’s world bore no resemblance to my reality. Her world was 1930s rural Mississippi, Mississippi Burning, Mississippi Goddam, as Nina Simone cursed it. It was lynchings, burning …
When Margaret Busby launched her publishing company in 1967, she was the youngest and first black woman to do so in England. Decades later, when she was asked why she’d fought so hard to launch an indie publishing house, she said: “So that you don’t only get one perspective all the time, with everything filtered through the usual gatekeepers— we know who they are, whether in London, New York or wherever… Other voices need to get a look-in, not just those that already have the power.” Trinidad and Tobago Guardian