Scots Makar, poet and novelist Jackie Kay revealed her selection of ten of the most compelling writers of color working in the UK during a special event at Cheltenham Literature Festival. Her list was commissioned by the National Centre for Writing (NCW) and British Council, supported by Arts Council England, as part of the International Literature Showcase – a two-year programme to promote writing from the UK to an international audience.
The showcase invites six guest curators to focus on different aspects of writing from the UK and launched with Elif Shafak’s selection of women writers at London Book Fair in March 2019. This was followed by Val McDermid’s choice of LGBTQI+ writers at Edinburgh in August.
With a view to promoting writers of outstanding talent to international markets, Kay’s selection is a call to world-wide literature festivals, publishers and academics to revisit writing from the UK and broaden the scope of authors considered for literary events, translation and contemporary British literature courses.
Jackie Kay’s ten selected writers are:
• Jay Bernard
• Mary Jean Chan
• Eric Ngalle Charles
• Imtiaz Dharker
• Michael Donkor
• Diana Evans
• Nadine Aisha Jassat
• Zaffar Kunial
• Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi
• Olumide Popoola
In revealing her selection Jackie Kay said:
“I would have given a lot growing up to come across these writers. Reading helped me understand myself, and my complex identity. I’m excited to highlight these ten writers not just because they challenge received wisdom, not just because they give us a new way of looking at the old, not just because they offer us insight and understanding, not just because they often make us laugh, but because they are good. Bold, brilliant and brave, these ten writers give us a real idea of the range of talent writing in the UK today. All of them are interested in language, in memory, in time – and all make us think deeply about what it means to be a human being alive in Britain in the 21st century.”
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