Saturday, 4 December 2010

Hot Tips for 2011


For me 2010 has been the year of the biography, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, has been a total revelation, and so with that in mind I am excited to hear about two new biographies that will be published next year. The first is I and I: The Natural Mystics, by Colin Grant, which is about the less well-known members (Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer) of the world famous group that included Bob Marley. Much has, of course, been written about Marley and Colin has taken the opportunity to bring the other members of the Wailers to the fore. (Colin’s memoir Lino – about black life in 1970s Luton will be published in 2012.)
Fiona Joseph
In autumn 2011 Fiona Joseph’s biography about Beatrice Cadbury of Birmingham’s chocolate manufacturing family will be published. Celebrating Beatrice: The Radical Quaker is the story of the heiress who gave away her fortune. She took the famous Cadbury model of philanthropy to an extreme.  In addition to this biography, Fiona’s first historical novella for English language students Barrington's Call will also be published in 2011. Follow Fiona on her blog/website at

LitFest and events
Literature festivals are booming if you love books they are the equivalent of music festivals. For 2011, check out the very accomplished Stoke Newington Literature Festival (3-5 June.) You would not believe that 2011 is still only Stoke Newington’s second year. Their multi-cultural strand is being ‘curated’ by Diane Abbott MP and the newsreader George Alagiah, and the festival has plans to look at the influence of Stoke Newington on the reggae, Trojan and ska scene.

Waterstones Islington branch aims to promote books and authors from London’s diverse minorities, and this means that they should have one African-Caribbean author per month throughout the year.  In January 2011 they will be kicking off with RED, which is a poetry anthology of 80 British black poets. Published by Peepal Tree Press, the leading publisher of Caribbean and Black British literature. Contact: 

For a book club with a difference try and join BBC Radio 4’s Book Club. Each month they set a book and 20 or so lucky listeners get the chance to ask questions at the recording of, in my experience, a totally charming author. At the moment they are trying to schedule Benjamin Zephaniah for the spring of 2011 to discuss his children’s book Refugee Boy (originally published in 2001). The programme is usually aired about a month after the recording takes place. Register at

Blogs and websites
There are many wonderful blogs out there – too many to mention here. One of my absolute favourites is Minna Salami’s Ms Afropolitan It is a beautifully written and thoughtful blog that is the development of her ideas on culture, women, Africa and musings on everyday life in the UK. To support the UN’s decade of women Minna has set up a shop on her blog that celebrates designs by African women. There is a small but exquisite selection of scarves, notebooks, earrings and other items that you’ll not be able to resist.

And last but not least, I asked Siobhan of Afrotoys, an online store selling toys, games and books for a multicultural world, what book she would recommend. She chose Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters (originally published 1987). ‘It is a beautifully illustrated African story about a lovely princess whose look and soul every black child can relate to. It’s an entertaining read for all age groups and I love it!’ she said. And so if you’ve not read it – get it at

A version of this article also appears in Lime magazine -


  1. Thanks for the encouraging mention of my blog! Thanks also for this very resourceful post, I know I will be referring back to it in 2011.
    Much gratitude and regards.

  2. Hello Ms Afropolitan, Glad you like it. best, tricia