I was lucky enough to be given Love across a broken map by Farhana Shaikh of Dahlia Publishing. Through Byte the Book and the Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society, I’d been invited to the All Party Writers Group (APWG) Summer Drinks Reception at the House of Lords. The APWG helps to raise matters that affect writers at a parliamentary level and the theme for this reception was the lack of diversity in the publishing and TV industry. Farhana was in the queue with us to get into the House of Lords and we finally chatted, beyond brief introductions, over a cup of tea having just listened to Baroness Floella Benjamin and Shai Hussain talk about their vision for a diverse publishing and TV industry in which every voice could be represented without stereotype or prejudice.
Baroness Floella Benjamin was a particularly hard act to follow because her fervour for representing our country of diverse peoples in our stories on and off screen was very moving. Don’t we want to project a world in which young people feel included, their voices valued and opinions sought? Shai Hussain had to follow her passion with a story of his own, asking the publishing and TV industries to listen to stories that stand outside typical patterns and that are written by people whose voices have yet to be given a chance to shine.
When Farhana said she ran a small publishing company, Dahlia Publishing, which manages The Asian Writer and Leicester Writes, and that they had a new book coming out that week, Love across a broken map, I quickly offered to review it. How do small presses, often those most interested in publishing diverse writing in all its forms, get their books noticed? How do they get the big reviews? As we know from the recent series of Literary Salons held by Something Rhymed, even getting books written by women, let alone any other diverse group, read and reviewed in mainstream newspapers is a struggle. #readdiverse2016 is a good place to start, but as with #readwomen2015 what happens the following year? Why aren’t good books, why isn’t good writing, rising to the surface as it really should? Continue reading