It seems the industry likes to champion one or two of us at a time, but no more. There also seem to be few black and Asian male writers. Lack of diversity overall is a problem on the literary landscape.Only for those whose concerns aren’t so much reading good books as trumpeting their cultural and moral superiority, and frankly, I think we’ve heard enough from them, don’t you?
Perhaps these writers didn't have the full support of their publishing houses, or were seen as risks and therefore not marketed properly – then dropped as soon as their books didn't make enough sales.Or … maybe they just weren't very good writers? I mean, that’s a possibility, isn't it? And maybe there’s just not enough people around who want to buy sub-standard books just to be seen with them to make up the shortfall?
But it seems that it’s not the case that no ‘authors of colour’ are celebrated at all:
Last year I was intrigued to see the hype machine in full effect following the arrival on the scene of two international black female authors, Taiye Selassi and NoViolet Bulawayo. NoViolet's We Need New Names is a blisteringly good read, which deserved every bit of attention it received. While it was heartening to see black female authors getting that much of the spotlight, I was also bothered by an uncomfortable, niggling realisation. A black British female author wouldn't be celebrated in the same way.Well, make up your mind!
Unfortunately, Britain doesn't champion the voices of its female writers of colour enough, preferring to fawn over international writers.So which is it? Minority authors are ignored, or the wrong minority authors are lauded?
There needs to be more support and diversity in the publishing industry all around – grassroots bookshops, publishing houses and prizes acknowledging the rich tapestry of authors in this country.Translation: “Buy my books, not theirs!”