“History is not the past, it is the present. We carry our history with us,” James Baldwin
Pete Ayrton, editor and publisher, who in 1986 founded Serpent’s Tail which he retired from in 2016, has teamed up with Rosemarie Hudson, the founder of HopeRoad (2010) to head up a new imprint: Small Axes.
The publication and promotion of literature from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean which challenges cultural stereotyping is becoming ever more urgent in the face of rising authoritarianism in the US, UK and across Europe.
The Small Axes list will focus on republishing post-colonial classics that helped to shape cultural shifts at the time of their printing and remain as relevant today as when they were first published.
“He lapsed into bitterness, as people tended to do now, despite some shreds of conviction that still remained that Britain was an honourable adversary. ‘Over three hundred lives,’ he said. ‘A hundred Indians for each Briton. That is their scale, the scale by which they value themselves and against which we are measured. That is what we are up against: not their greed, or their anger, nor land hunger, nor the need to trade, but their arrogance, the mentality that produces such policies and acts.’”Continue reading Review | The Nowhere Man, Kamala Markandaya | Small Axes
The sixth talk of the BookBlast® 10×10 tour, a nationwide celebration of independent publishing, features Rosemarie Hudson, founder of HopeRoad Publishing, (African & Caribbean writing), based in West London.
HopeRoad promotes inclusive literature with a focus on Africa, Asia and the Caribbean; and vigorously supports often neglected voices. Many of HopeRoad’s YA titles focus on issues dealing with identity, cultural stereotyping and disability. The talk has as its theme Trading Places: Bright City, Dark Secrets. Book Tickets
Meet Peter Kalu in person at the BookBlast 10×10 Tour event, Waterstones, Bristol Galleries: 11A Union Galleries, Broadmead BS1 3XD 6.30 p.m. Thursday 18 October. Theme: Trading Places: Bright City, Dark Secrets. In conversation with Rosemarie Hudson, HopeRoad Publishing, (chair), and author Qaisra Shahraz. Book Tickets
What is your favorite quality? Brevity.
Where were you born, and where did you grow up? Earth. Ditto.
What sorts of books were in your family home? Paper ones.
Who were early formative influences as a writer? Tom & Jerry.
Do you write every day, and do you write many drafts? Yes. Yes.
As an author, what are you most proud (or embarrassed) of writing? Words. (Words).
Books that changed your life? Cicero: Murder Trials.
Meet Qaisra Shahraz in person at the BookBlast 10×10 Tour event, Waterstones, Bristol Galleries: 11A Union Galleries, Broadmead BS1 3XD 6.30 p.m. Thursday 18 October. Theme: Trading Places: Bright City, Dark Secrets. In conversation with Rosemarie Hudson, HopeRoad Publishing, (chair), and author Pete Kalu. Book Tickets
Where were you born, and where did you grow up? I was born in Pakistan and arrived in the UK at the age of nine. I grew up in Manchester.
What sorts of books were in your family home? All sorts. In my childhood days, there was a book shelf stacked with volumes of Encyclopaedia Britannica that my father bought to educate his children along with books by famous Pakistani poets, for example the work of Allama Iqbal. Near my bed I had Enid Blyton’s Malory Tower series of six novels and the Famous Five collection. In my teenage years, quite a few Barbara Cartland books entered my bedroom. In our ancestral home in a wooden cabinet in Lahore I came across two of William Shakespeare’s plays. One was my father’s student copy of Hamlet, with margins lined with notes neatly scribbled in his elegant handwriting. As I pursued my studies of English literature, I proudly lined my bookcase with volumes of world literature, including numerous classics. I developed a literary appetite for the works of Leo Tolstoy, Henrik Ibsen, Ruth Prawar Jhabawalla, Molière, Emile Zola, the ancient Greek tragedies, as well as the work of many popular Victorian novelists, including that of Elizabeth Gaskell. It was a proud moment when I was invited to read in her house at 84 Plymouth Grove here in Manchester.Continue reading Interview | Qaisra Shahraz, author
I was delighted to be invited on to the Robert Elms show on Saturday to talk about The BookBlast® 10×10 Tour in association with Waterstones.
Interview with Robert Elms, BBC Radio London
A carnival of authors, poets, translators and #indiepubs will visit 9 major cities across England, 11 September-15 November, inspiring readers to immerse themselves in authentic and offbeat writing which adds value to the cultural landscape. The independent sector is the home of experimental writing, poetic innovation and world writing in translation. With these events BookBlast® aims to unite people in the spirit of friendship and exchange.
“As far as Jamal could tell, only two things were wrong: a dirty yellow vapour was streaming from the canister and everyone in the compound was dead. The smoke that made Jamal cough and choke in his hut was partly from the contents of the canister and partly from Auntie Sheema, who had fallen onto the cooking fire.” [page5]
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a terrorist!
Jamal lives in West Africa. His hut is set apart, away from the family compound, because of something that makes him twitch, something that may or may not be in his head, which may be evidence of black magic. “After his mum died and his grandfather left, taking all the palm wine from his uncle’s store, everyone told Jamal that he was unlucky.” The fact that he is “marked by spirits” is what saves the boy when terrorists attack the village, since he is overlooked.Continue reading Review | The Ghosts & Jamal, Bridget Blankley | Book of the Week
Did you want to work in the publishing industry from the start? No, I only started my career in publishing twenty years ago; previously I spent most of the time in the film industry.
Has your vision from when you started HopeRoad 7 years ago changed? No, in that I still want to continue to publish authors and writings from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. It’s a big, rich vision that will last my lifetime.
How do you balance originality and profitability? Our remit is to publish books of quality – to add a third word – that would otherwise not see the light of day. Profitability is something one can depend on when selling shoes, for instance – but book sales are mainly a gamble. Perhaps most publishers would agree with this! However, I believe in every single title we publish and gain great satisfaction from seeing these books in print and also from working with talented writers. We are still looking forward to that “big win”, but in the meantime, with occasional help from Arts Council England, along with grants for our translations, we are able to keep going, and to keep our standards high.
Where were you born, and where did you grow up? I was born in Nottingham, as were my parents, but I grew up in Southern Nigeria. When we came back to the UK we moved around a bit before settling in Essex. I stayed there until I had my children.
What sorts of books were in your family home? There was a real spread of genres. My sister read historical fiction, lots of it, we were always battling for space on our joint bookshelves. My Dad liked humour and detective fiction, the Father Brown Stories, Simenon’s Maigret, and Jeeves and Wooster. There were also quite a lot of autobiographies in the house, I’m not sure who brought them, probably mum, but we all read them. I was lucky as a child, there was no limit on what we could read. If it was in the house anyone could read it. My dad believed that if it was too advanced for us we would lose interest in the book and put it back on the shelf. I think it probably worked. I never felt I had to finish a book that I wasn’t enjoying, but I never felt that any books were beyond me.