From Nigeria to Malaysia: Spotlighting BAME Publishers
Publisher Spotlight 1: Lantana Publishing
Established: Lantana Publishing was established by founder and CEO Alice Curry in 2014.
Mission: Lantana Publishing is “an inclusive children’s publisher with a mission to see children of all colours reading happily on one earth.”
Lantana Publishing is a children’s publisher and social enterprise who seek out stories from a diverse range of authors and illustrators. This ties in with their ethos, which aims to celebrate diversity, inclusivity and sustainability, whilst championing underrepresented groups. They donate one book to their charity partners for every book that is purchased, which encourages their aim of making reading more accessible for children. They have published several award-winning books including: Chicken in the Kitchen by Nnedi Okorafor and Mehrdokht Amini, and Maisie’s Scrapbook by Samuel Narh and Jo Loring-Fisher. They publish books across many genres, with a primary focus on picture books and fiction for ages 5-12. They are active on their blog and their social media accounts, which explore and celebrate books for every kind of reader.
Lantana Publishing are working really hard to solidify representation for all children because, as they state on their website, “all children deserve to see themselves in the books they read.”
Publisher Spotlight 2: Cassava Republic Press
Established: Cassava Republic was founded by Bibi Bakare-Yusuf and Jeremy Weate in 2006.
Mission: “Our mission is to change the way we all think about African writing.”
Cassava Republic Press, which was founded in the Nigerian city of Abuja and has offices in London, is at the forefront of pan-African publishing with their mission to bring African voices to a global audience. In their own words:
“the greatest problem we have [in Africa] is a deficit of imagination. We focus too much on the politics of the belly, and too little on the poetics of the belly. But sometimes it is the poetry that allows us to wake up in the morning and say yes to existence.” - Bibi Bakare-Yusuf
From cutting-edge publications like Chris Abani’s short story anthology of Lagosian crime writing Lagos Noir and Leye Adenle’s gripping sequel to the award-winning thriller Easy Motion Tourist, to publishing brightly coloured children’s books on a continent where books are largely black and white, Cassava Republic Press offers Africans a chance to see themselves reflected in their cultural consumption, and represented in the means of the continent’s intellectual production.
Publisher Spotlight 3: Silverfish Books
Established: Silverfish Books was founded by Raman Krishnan in 1999.
Mission: “To develop Malaysian writing, literature, and publishing to internationally-recognised standards.”
Silverfish Books is a publisher, bookstore and an education centre. They aim to put the Malaysian literary voice on the map. Since its establishment, it has become a leading publisher for English books in Malaysia, and has translated Malaysian literature into Italian, French and German. Silverfish Books’ emphasis is to provide a place for Malaysian writing, as it has been neglected in bigger Malaysian bookstores where most of the local book trade consists of imported books from the US or UK. Books by local publishers are pushed aside and given limited shelf space in local bookstores. Silverfish Books feels the frustration of the one-way traffic of UK/US books entering the Malaysian book trade and wishes for a more equal exchange of literature not only between Malaysia and the West, but also between the Southeast Asia region.
Silverfish Books also seek to develop writers. They disregard the need to be a ‘creative writer’ or to write flawlessly. They believe the important part is a good story because the writing can be fixed but nothing can be done with a bad story.
Some More Diverse Publishers to Watch and Buy From:
Blackbird Books – Corridors of Death by Malaika Wa Azania
Dialogue Books – Mister Good Times by Norman Jay MBE
Knights Of – A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll
Lil’ Libros – The Life of/ La vida de Walter by Patty Rodriguez and Ariana Stein
Street Noise Books – Spellbound: A Graphic Memoir by Bishakh Som
amaBooks – The September Sun by Bryony Rheam
Afram Publications – African Girl by Kezia Dzifa Awadzi
Kachifo Limited – Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
Kwela Books – Femicide in South Africa by Nechama Brodie
African Heritage Press – The Old Man in the State House by Tanure Ojaide
Epigram Books – Scarlet Harlot: My Double Life by Ashley Chan with Gerrie Lim
Adarna House – Displaced by Aneka Rodriguez
Anvil Publishing – Marka Demonyo Or Poems on Love, Faith, and Duct Tape by Lourd de Veyra
Rupa Publications – Right Under Your Nose by R. Giridharan
Oyez!Books – Dill the Little Elephant retold by Linda Tan and Volker Wolf. Illustrated by Yusof Gajah