Lessons to be Learnt: Kate Clanchy to re-write memoir after criticism
By Freddie Carew
Kate Clanchy’s critically acclaimed and 2020 Orwell Prize-winning memoir, Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me, will be re-written following criticism that it contains problematic presentations of pupils, in particular children of colour and autistic children. The memoir explores her experience of teaching in state schools, and it received significant praise following its first publication by Picador in 2019.
Public outcry became particularly prominent after Clanchy tweeted that a reviewer on Goodreads had “made up a racist quote and said it was in my book.” Upon examination, it transpired that these passages had not been made up and were, in fact, in her memoir. Amidst rising criticism, initially, several authors, including Philip Pullman and Amanda Craig, produced tweets defending Clanchy. However, readers raised further evidence of problematic language, in one instance surrounding the depictions of children with autism.
In response to this portrayal of autistic children, 17-year-old author Dara McAnulty, who is autistic, wrote: "Some people didn't believe me when I shared some of my education experiences and how teachers felt about me… We can understand how you really feel about us."
Other notable critics of Clanchy were authors of colour, Chimene Suleyman, Monisha Rajesh, and Professor Sunny Singh. Rajesh spoke to the BBC about how the book was "riddled with racist and ableist tropes throughout” and, she was concerned whether this meant the book could even be adequately re-written. Suleyman tweeted about how she was particularly troubled by “the publishing team that didn’t spot it, the awards that celebrated it, and the white authors defending it and invalidating people of colour who are upset by it”.
Authors who had become involved and defended Clanchy, notably Philip Pullman, subsequently issued apology statements. Clanchy herself has issued a statement where she apologised for her actions and referred to the experience as "humbling." The publisher of the memoir, Picador, issued a number of statements but some did criticise them for being too slow to react. In their latest statement, to prevent problematic content in future editions, Picador have proposed to “consult an appropriate group of specialist readers about the update and hopes to release a new edition in the autumn.” More broadly, Picador and Pan Macmillan will be reviewing “editorial processes and considering how [they] implement more rigour in [their] assessment of manuscripts, including guidance for commissioning sensitivity reads, and more.”
Independent Publishers Guild Announces Award Shortlist
By Charlotte Hall
The Independent Publishers Guild, a prominent network for independent publishers in the UK and Ireland, has announced shortlists for their annual awards. Nosy Crow tweeted that they are “absolutely THRILLED to have been shortlisted for three IPG 2021 Independent Publishing Awards.” Nosy Crow, alongside Bloomsbury, lead the way this year with three nominations apiece.
Notably, this year, in the list of thirty-two nominated publishers and four individuals, thirteen nominations are first-time entrants. This represents more than a third of nominees and is indicative of the resilience, reactivity and innovation that has been shown in the industry during this challenging year. With that in mind, it is exciting to see Unbound, the world’s first crowdfunding publisher, nominated for two awards: IPG Specialist Consumer Publisher of the Year and the Alison Morrison Diversity Award.
The winners will be announced at a lunchtime event held at the OXO Tower on Tuesday 21 September. IPG Chief Executive, Bridget Shine, has said that “it will be even more exciting than usual to celebrate IPG members’ successes in person in September,” following 2020’s event which took place online. Tickets for the event are available here.
The full list of awards and their nominees is shown below. There is one further award, the prestigious IPG Independent Publisher of the Year, which is decided on the day and contested by the winners of the five Publishers of the Year categories.
Paperback Shop Trade Publisher of the Year: Atlantic Books, Bloomsbury Publishing, Faber & Faber, Hardie Grant
Clays Children’s Publisher of the Year: Nosy Crow, Sweet Cherry Publishing, Usborne Publishing
PLS Academic and Professional Publisher of the Year: Bloomsbury Publishing, Bristol University Press, Class Publishing, Edward Elgar Publishing
Westchester Education Services Education Publisher of the Year: Bloomsbury Publishing, Brilliant Publications, Jolly Learning
IPG Specialist Consumer Publisher of the Year: David & Charles, How2Become, Unbound, Vertebrate Publishing
Nick Robinson Newcomer Award: Chelsea Green Publishing UK, Magic Cat Publishing, Swift Press
Deanta International Award: Jolly Learning, Nosy Crow, Sweet Cherry Publishing
IPG Marketing Award: Kogan Page, Nosy Crow, Pluto Press
Alison Morrison Diversity Award: Emerald Publishing, Oneworld, Princeton University Press, SAGE Publishing, Unbound
IPG Sustainability Award: Cambridge University Press, Hawthorn Press
The Bookseller Young Independent Publisher of the Year: Nia Beynon, Boldwood Books; Shannon Rademacher, CLass Professional Publishing; Michal Watson, Watkins Publishing
GBS Services to Independent Publishers Award: The Book Publicist, Bookswarm, Edelweiss, Glassboxx, Inpress, Suzanne Collier