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Color of Publishing 3, perspectives from the United Kingdom
Episode 3730th May 2023 • BookRising • Radical Books Collective
00:00:00 00:47:52

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In the third episode of Color of Publishing, we focus on publishing perspectives from the United Kingdom with two prolific editors and writers, Margaret Busby and Ellah P. Wakatama. Host Bhakti Shringarpure engages the two experts in a wide-ranging conversation about the history of publishing in the UK, questions of diversity and representation, book acquisitions, taste and culture-making, and structural racism. Busby and Wakatama have been witness to the long arc of how publishing has evolved and they speak about the transformations they have witnessed in the business over the years but they also recall the times when diversity was almost non-existent. They are keen to celebrate the successes and the changes taking place in UK publishing as there are more opportunities now for Black, Asian and international writers. However, even as prizes, festivals and book advances grow, they worry whether the shift can be sustained. Busby and Wakatama also acknowledge the importance of camaraderie and shared mission between each other as Black women in publishing over the years .

Margaret Busby is a Ghanaian born writer, editor and broadcaster. She was Britain's youngest and first black female book publisher when she co-founded the publishing house Allison and Busby in the 1960s. She has edited the Daughters of Africa anthology and the second New Daughters of Africa anthology. She was awarded the London Book Fair Lifetime Achievement award in 2021 and the CBE, and she is a member of The Royal Society of Literature. She was appointed the president of English PEN in 2023.

Ellah P. Wakatama was born in Zimbabwe, educated in the US and has been a London-based writer and editor for the past many years. She is editor-at-large at Canongate Books and chair of the Caine Prize for African Writing. She has edited several anthologies and has contributed to several of them as well. She was given an OBE for services to the publishing industry in 2011, and New African Magazine also named her one of “100 Most Influential Africans” in 2016.