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The Observer: 'Akala, Bernardine Evaristo, Ben Okri and more pick 20 classic books by writers of colour'

Kadish Morris has published an excellent 'top 20' list in The Observer, featuring 20 contemporary writers such as Akala, Bernardine Evaristo and Ben Okri. Peepal Tree gets a nice shout out and there is an excellent range of books to add to your list.

A 2017 report showed that of 400 authors named as writers of literature by 2,000 people, only 7% were from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds. Sunny Singh, co-founder of the Jhalak prize, which recognises Black and Asian writers in Britain, said the list reflected “a deeply entrenched imaginative conservatism, where the need to hold on to a nostalgic past combines with a fear of confronting a complex present in all its variety”.

I was fortunate in that my mother worked as a stock manager for a small publishing house specialising in Caribbean, Black British and South Asian writing called Peepal Tree Press. Books by Courttia Newland, Jacqueline Bishop and Kwame Dawes were regular birthday gifts, but such authors have remained largely absent from discussions about great works of literature.

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