By Shaniah Shields, Madhu Manivannan and Leanne Francis
In our articles, we aim to uncover and share the infinite amount of talent that BIPOC writers, illustrators, publishers and creators have to offer. In our Writing the World series, we began to showcase the talent of BIPOC publishers and individuals around the world. Publishing is an ever-evolving landscape that is beginning to be populated with even more ground-breaking BIPOC indie publishers and publications. From Jacaranda’s Twenty in 2020 to niche presses including Peepal Tree, there are so many achievements to celebrate. In this article, we want to share some BIPOC publishers and publications who are proving to be game changers in so many different ways.
With delicately rendered illustrations often washed in muted shades and incorporating their iconic logo, a Tilted Axis cover is instantly recognisable. Founded in 2015 in the UK, Tilted Axis publishes innovative work by Asian writers translated into English. Some of Tilted Axis’s most exciting titles in the past year have been works that challenge heteronormativity, such as Sang Young Park’s debut, Love in the Big City, the story of a young man navigating adulthood and his sexuality amidst the heady nightscape of Seoul. In 2022, we’re especially looking forward to The Opportunists Steal Your Thunder by Kalyani Thakur Charal, a Bengali poetry collection celebrating resistance against caste oppression, as well as Chinatown by Thuận, intriguingly described as an “unfinished love story, humorous and haunting, of diasporic lives in Vietnam and France.”
Since its establishment in Nigeria in 2006, Cassava Republic Press has also launched in England and the US, furthering its goal of bringing high-quality African literature to a global audience. Favourites from 2021 include In the Palace of Flowers by Victoria Princewell, a richly detailed historical novel about the journey of an Abyssinian slave in the 19th century seeking freedom and meaning beyond the Persian royal court. This year, we’re excited to read An Unusual Grief by Yewande Omotoso, which deals with a mother whose daughter’s recent death forces her to question her identity.
Founded by Amy Mae Baxter in 2019, Bad Form is an award-winning books magazine by and about writers of colour, as reflected in their past issues which have been themed on a variety of topics including Caribbean Literature and Beauty. On their website, you can find a number of book reviews, reading lists and opinion pieces about the publishing industry which are imbued with pride for writers of colour. They have interviewed an array of authors including Candice Carty-Williams and Helena Lee. Their latest Issue showcases a special takeover from Dialogue Books “which is dedicated entirely to celebrating Dialogue’s Five Years of supporting marginalised authors.” You can sign up to Bad Form’s newsletter here.
Dialogue Books, an imprint of Hachette’s Little, Brown, is headed up by publisher Sharmaine Lovegrove. It was originally established as an English-language bookshop in Berlin in 2008 and is now celebrating five years of supporting marginalised authors as a publisher. Their collaboration with Bad Form is part of their fifth anniversary celebrations. “Dialogue Books shines a spotlight on stories for, about and by readers from the LGBTQI+, disability, working class and BAME communities.” Their clear focus is to spark a conversation across fiction, non-fiction, commercial and literary publishing. Their latest release is Abundance by Jakob Guanzon, which was longlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction.
Founded by Liv Little in 2015, gal-dem is “an award-winning media company committed to sharing the perspectives of people of colour from marginalised genders.” This groundbreaking independent magazine showcases and celebrates a wide range of perspectives, giving people of colour from marginalised genders a platform to share their opinions, experiences and news. This year, working in partnership with Covering Climate Now, gal-dem have launched a new series which aims to raise awareness about climate change and its consequences for communities of colour, spotlighting the voices and experiences of the Global South. There is no doubt that gal-dem is a force to be reckoned with, and we are eager to witness how they shape the world once again in 2022.
Founded by Valerie Brandes in 2011, Jacaranda Books is a multi-award-winning independent publisher “passionately run from top to bottom by talented women of colour with the aim of promoting and celebrating inclusivity and diversity in the publishing industry.” Jacaranda Books has remained a firm favourite of ours ever since their historic #Twentyin2020 campaign, which saw the publication of twenty Black British authors in a single year. Jacaranda has started 2022 by being shortlisted for the New Futures bookshop programme. We are incredibly excited to see how Jacaranda grows and expands this year and how many new writers they will illuminate along the way.