COMMITTED TO ‘building community around black writing culture’ 2020 will see Black: The Literary Salon deliver a three-event series set to fill a gap in London’s literary events calendar.
Established by the first African publishing house in the UK, Cassava Republic Press, the salons will be hosted at London’s Ace Hotel across and will provide a space dedicated to writers, readers and thinkers who are interested in and committed to uncompromising and unmediated spaces for the exploration of writing and ideas from the Black world.
The event series will be a quarterly celebration of the best in black writing from across the world. Shifting the focus away from tokenistic representation, black writing and writers will take centre stage providing a platform from where they can probe more deeply into selected themes in a critical, joyous and fun way that both delight and stretch the mind.
From a conversation at the literary supper for the re-release of Sarah Ladipo Manyika’s book, ‘In Dependence’ at Zoe Adjonyoh’s (Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen), to Zoe connecting Cassava Republic Press to A + F Creative, (a brand communications agency founded by two women of colour), the idea to establish an events series came into fruition.
Black: The Literary Salon will become a space to promote the diversity and richness of literary voices from across the Black world and connect authors and thinkers to a wider audience. Attracting both established and emerging authors and thinkers from across different genres and discipline. The salon will give the audience a space to connect with people across their difference as they are inspired and entertained by ideas.
Cassava Republic Press and A and Fhave curated three salons featuring four voices all united by a potent theme that will be a springboard for stimulating conversation: the first being Love and Desire, in keeping with the spirit of the month. Each writer will invite the audience to think about different forms of love and desire, and reveal the ways in which these concepts are explored in their writing. The writers confirmed for the first salon are:
Olumide Popoola, London-based Nigerian-German writer, speaker and performer, with a PhD in Creative Writing and recipient of the May Ayim Award (2004) in the category Poetry – the first Black German Literary Award
Irenosen Okojie, Nigerian British author whose debut novel ‘Butterfly Fish’ won a Betty Trask award and was shortlisted for an Edinburgh International First Book Award. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, the Observer, the Guardian, BBC and the Huffington Post amongst other publications. She was recently inducted as a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature as one of the Forty Under Forty initiative
Diana Evans, Nigerian British former dancer, journalist, critic, lecturer and author, whose accolades include Orange Award for New Writers, British Book Awards deciBel Writer of the Year, shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel, the Guardian First Book, the Commonwealth Best First Book and the Times/Southbank Show Breakthrough awards, and long listed for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her third novel, Ordinary People, which was a New Yorker, New Statesman and Financial Times book of the year, was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Rathbones Folio Prize and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction among others, and won the South Bank Sky Arts Award.
Subsequent dates and themes for Black: The Literary Salon are:
Thursday 28 May – Exploring Maleness, Masculinity and Selfhood
The salon asks writers and the audience to consider what it means to be a man today exploring issues surrounding male identity: Is there really a crisis of masculinity? What is toxic masculinity? How are men and boys affected by misogyny, homophobia and narrow definitions of manhood? This salon will consider all of these questions and will also explore the particular challenges facing Black men and boys
Thursday 24 September – Writing stories, Making Histories
Black histories are under-explored and frequently written from a Eurocentric, White-supremacist perspective. This salon will explore how Black writers, both fiction and non-fiction, engage with the past and challenge the audience to consider their own relationships with history