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Peepal Tree Press wins the Clarissa Luard Award 2017

Selected from a strong and inspiring shortlist, the judges were particularly impressed by Peepal Tree Press’ tenacity in a challenging market, and by its innovative proposal for the £10,000 prize money.

“This award highlights the importance of independent publishing in our society and shines a light on its brilliance and dynamism across the country. The winners Peepal Tree Press are courageous and original in their publishing, bold in their future ambitions and truly deserve this award.”

Sharmaine Lovegrove literary editor at Elle and publisher of Dialogue Books at Little, Brown Book Group

Peepal Tree Press was founded in Leeds in 1985 to publish the best of international writing from the Caribbean, its diasporas and the UK, as well as Black British fiction, poetry and non-fiction. Its project will deliver a podcast, entitled The New Caribbean Voices, inspired by the BBC radio programme, Caribbean Voices. Caribbean Voices was a hugely popular weekly radio show which aired between 1945-1958. It was first edited by Una Marson and then by Henry Swanzy, and it supported the early careers of V.S. Naipaul, Sam Selvon, George Lamming, Sylvia Wynter and many other greats of Caribbean writing, reaching a size and diversity of audience that has not been achieved since.

Jeremy Poynting, managing editor and Peepal Tree's founder said:

"This is a huge honour and we’re thrilled to receive it. As Andrew Marr, the 2017 chair of the Forward prize recently noted on the radio, there has been an astonishing flowering of a new generation of Caribbean writing, and we’re proud to have been a part of that process. This generation, of course, builds on the achievements of its seniors – two Nobel laureates in Naipaul and Walcott, and literary giants such as Kamau Brathwaite and Lorna Goodison.

And the writing of the Caribbean itself is only a small part of the immense creativity of the Caribbean people. These are small island societies, born in the terrible circumstances of slavery and the repressive hand of colonialism, but which have changed the face of world music with reggae, calypso and steelband, of street theatre with carnival and hosay, which out of the verbal inventiveness and the facility for story-telling of “ordinary” people have produced perhaps the most vibrant literary language in the English-speaking world.

As a region, this is one of the oldest group of multicultural societies anywhere. The writers we publish include people of African, Indian, Chinese, and various European heritages, and mixtures of all these, all part of an ever-changing Creole culture which has so much to teach us about the rich creativity to be found when peoples mix, merge and continually re-invent themselves. It is a story that extends into the many diasporic Caribbean communities in Europe and North America. It is a region and a culture which we in Britain need to understand because it is a part of our history, too, albeit often an uncomfortable one to acknowledge.

You can read more about the awards at the New Writing North.


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