POSTPONED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. Twenty in 2020 is a trailblazing programme by Jacaranda Books, a Black female publishing house, in collaboration with Words of Colour, that will dedicate a year to publishing 20 works by Black British writers. The works will include adult fiction, nonfiction and poetry. The aim of the initiative is to normalize the presence of diverse literature, characters and authors across all genres and curricula, with the hope that it will be a source of inspiration for a new generation of publishing professionals and authors.
This one-off session will feature three of the staff from Jacaranda books speaking on how they are literally changing the narrative in publishing and sneak previews of the successes they've already made before the books are even published. We will also hear readings from five of the Twenty in 2020 authors . There will then be a Q&A session.
London independent publisher Jacaranda set out to find 20 black British writers in 2018, going through more than 100 submissions to pin down a list that spans from DD Armstrong’s reworking of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, which relocates the story of brotherhood and betrayal to modern inner-city London, to Tolu Agbelusi’s poetry collection Locating Strong Women. Jacaranda founder Valerie Brandes described the list as “a fine mix of established, recognised names and brand new voices delivering brilliant fiction, non-fiction and poetry”.
“The importance of this from a publishing perspective cannot be overstated,” said Brandes. “The commitment to publish 20 black British writers in one year, in terms of sheer visibility for black writing and writers, is unsurpassed in this industry.”
Jacaranda’s campaign, #Twentyin2020, is being run in collaboration with writers’ development agency Words of Colour. Joy Francis, executive director at Words of Colour, called the current moment “an exciting time for independent publishing and black British writers who, for too long, have been under-celebrated and under-promoted”.
The move comes as the UK publishing industry faces the reality of its white monoculture: after the introduction of several diversity initiatives across the big publishing houses in the wake of a scathing report into the industry’s lack of racial diversity among both writers and employees, recent research found that little has changed, with publishers still failing to reflect the UK’s racial and regional diversity.
Jacaranda editorial manager Magdalene Abraha said: “As a young, black millennial who is a Londoner, I know that mainstream publishing does not quite represent the society I live in. The industry has a long way to go before it is truly representative … The #Twentyin2020 initiative will spearhead this much needed push. If a small, independent publisher like Jacaranda can publish 20 black British writers in one year, then there is no reason why larger publishers cannot match that.”
The twenty books due for publication in 2020 are:
The Long Way Home by DD Armstrong
Bad Love by Maame Blue (Olivia Danso)Looking for Bono Abidemi SanusiIf I Don’t Have You by Sareeta DomingoThe Street Hawkers Apprentice by Kabir Kareem-BelloLove Again by Rasheda Ashanti MalcolmDeadly Sacrifice by Stella Ahmadu Under Solomon Skies by Berni Sorga-MillwoodDating in the 21st Centuty by Lisa BentLote by Shola von Rheinhold
Through the Leopards Gaze by Njambi McGrathThe Space Between Black and White by Esuantsiwa Jane GoldsmithA Circle of Five by Harris JoshuaAre We Home Yet? by Kate MasseyBlack History Walks by Tony Warner
Locating Strong Woman by Tolu AgbelusiUntitled by Hibaq OsmanJamakspeare by Brenda GarrickThe First Collection by Sarah Lipton-SidibehOn Reflection by Adjoa Wiredu
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