Friday, 15 May 2009

Diversity and perversity

The winner of the first Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Award is Christy Burne with Takeshita Demons. Her novel, about a Japanese schoolgirl, will be published by Frances Lincoln and she wins £1,500.
Geraldine Brennan wrote a thoughtful piece about the award and the need for more diversity in children's books in the Times:
and opened the floodgates to a horrifying reaction in the comments. The very least was along the lines of "they should publish their own books."

And these are responses to a broadsheet article, albeit online. I've found the same with the Guardian website. It's so bad that I've almost decided never to read online comments on anything, since they always seem to bring out a hang 'em and flog 'em, send 'em all back where they come from squad of commenters, who, I hope, represent a tiny minority of the population.

More news from Frances Lincoln is that Janetta Otter-Barry, former Children's Editorial Director, is to have her own list. Janetta will publish about twenty books a year in a very hands-on way as commissioner and editor. For the main FL children's list, Maurice Lyon will be Editorial Director. And both lists will continue to have a strong multi-cultural flavour.

This is in accord with the beliefs and principles of their founder, Frances Lincoln, who died unexpectedly, aged 55, in 2001. Since then the company has been run by her widower, John Nicoll, who has continued to publish children's books that accord with Frances's philosophy.

How pleased she would be with the new developments.


undyingking said...

"Multicultural" has sadly become one of those words that trigger a knee-jerk reaction, regardless of its context or meaning.

Hope you don't stop reading comments that are left here, anyway!

Book Maven said...

Too right!

I shall go on reading comments here and, if the Maven gets invaded by Daily-Mail reading racists, I have the power to delete their comments. Mwa-ha-ha!

lauren said...

I read some of those comments with a horrified fascination -- it's very educational, but feels a bit like mawkishly [?word] staring at a road accident. It's horrendous that people have and express those views, but I do feel I need to remember there are such people and - horror - some are the parents of our potential readers.

Stroppy Author said...

Sorry, Mary, that wasn't Lauren - she left it logged in as her!

bookwitch said...

The only reason I was a little negative about the idea, was that I don't think it should be necessary. It's like the clothes made only for fat people, when all they need to do is extend the existing designs a few sizes larger.

Book Maven said...

I started researching, writing and campaigning for greater diversity in children's books over 35 years ago. But things are even worse now especially where the gender division is concerned - pink and sparkly for girls, monster-hunting and killing for boys.

So a prize like this, though focusing on ethnicity rather than gender, is sill needed.

adele said...

I will follow the link to Geraldine's article in a minute but just to say: comments boxes are like cesspits most of them. You would be ASTONISHED by some of the things that pass there without being deleted. Horrible. Here, of course, we have much more civilised commentators.

Nick Green said...

I remember talking to Lauren St. John (The White Giraffe, Dolphin Song) and she telling a publishing story that made me gape. A publisher turned down one of her books set in Africa on the grounds that, 'We've just published a story set in Indonesia.'

Oh right, that's fine then. We've 'done' the rest of the world now, haven't we? And Africa, Indonesia... it's all foreign, isn't it? And if publishers can think this way, the mind boggles.