Recent BIPOC News
By Shaniah Shields, Leanne Francis and Madhu Manivannan
In this issue, we look at the latest BIPOC news; from exciting book adaptations to this year’s Booker Prize and Women’s Prize for Fiction nominees. These new developments in publishing are putting more BIPOC authors on the map, page and our screens too.
Tolá Okogwu’s middle grade novel, Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun, is expected to be published on 6 June. It has been noted that rights have been acquired to adapt the book for a Netflix feature film. Described as Black Panther meets Percy Jackson, the novel is the first in a superhero duology. It is in production at Will Smith’s Westbrook Studios and David Oyelowo’s Yoruba Saxon. Author, Tolá Okogwu will be an executive producer and Ola Shokunbi will write for the film adaptation.
Lizzie Damilola Blackburn’s debut novel, Yinka, Where is your Huzband?, will be published on 31 March. It is Viking’s lead commercial fiction title for 2022 and serves to be a witty millennial novel about life, love and London. Netflix have already snapped up the rights for this heartfelt rom com which follows Yinka, a single thirty-one year-old British-Nigerian woman who is facing internal and external pressure to find a husband.
Earlier this month, the longlist for the 2022 Women’s Prize for Fiction was announced. The prize was established in 1996, born out of the 1991 Booker Prize’s failure to shortlist any women novelists, following a pattern by which “the leading literary Prizes nonetheless often seemed to overlook accomplished, challenging, important fiction by female authors.” Of the longlist, chair of judges and author Mary Ann Sieghart said, “my fellow judges were delighted to find that our sixteen favourite novels were incredibly diverse, written by women of all ages from all over the world, covering different genres and from publishers large and small.” Indeed, this year’s longlist features an array of characters, settings and themes from Louise Erdrich’s “deliciously witty ghost story,” The Sentence, to The Bread the Devil Knead, Lisa Allen-Agostini’s Trinidad-based story of resistance and survival. The shortlist of six books will be announced on 27 April, and the winner on 15 June.
The longlist for this year’s International Booker Prize was also announced this month. It was set up in 2005 to complement the Booker Prize by “[honouring] fiction on a global basis”, by awarding books that were originally written in another language and translated into English. This year’s longlist features books from twelve countries translated from eleven languages. As chair of judges, Frank Wynne says, “the books make up a passionately debated longlist that traces a ring around the world,” spanning from Mexico (Paradais by Fernanda Melchor) to Japan (Heaven by Mieko Kawakami). Notably, this year features Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree, the first book written in Hindi to be nominated and one of three books published by Tilted Axis to have been nominated. The six books that have been shortlisted will be announced on 7 April, and the winner on 26 May.
The shortlist for the prestigious children’s book award, Yoto Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals has been published. The awards celebrate outstanding achievement in children’s writing and illustration respectively and are unique in being judged by children’s and youth librarians. Alex Wheatle has been shortlisted for the Yoto Carnegie for the first time with his novel, Crane Warriors, which is set in 1760s Jamaica. The shortlist also features Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam, and The Crossing by Manjeet Mann who has previously been the Carnegie Shadowers’ 2021 Choice Winner. The Kate Greenaway shortlist features Shu Lin’s Grandpa which is illustrated by Yu Rong. The winners will be announced on 16 June.
Last month, Spread the Word announced the names of thirty participants selected to take part in the 2022 London Writers Awards development programme, which provides “a group of wonderfully talented people from diverse backgrounds under-represented in traditional publishing” with the opportunity to develop their work before launching their careers as professional writers. The full list of writers can be found here.
To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March, Transport for London launched a new tube map in partnership with City of Women, which was designed to celebrate the lives of “women and non binary people, contemporary and historic, who have made indelible marks on the city's trajectory.” This reimagining of the tube map, created by author Reni Eddo-Lodge, activist Rebecca Solnit and actress Emma Watson encourages people to think about their surroundings differently, replacing the familiar names of tube stations with that of writers, activists, athletes and more. Among the list are Jacaranda Books founder and CEO, Valerie Brandes, author Zadie Smith, and screenwriter and actress, Michaela Coel. The full City of Women map can be found here.