BOOKS: COVER STORIES

Click to follow
The British publishing industry remains resolutely white. Ravi Mirchandani, the publisher of Heinemann, is the only figure of black or Asian descent in a major firm to hold a senior editorial position. They are allowed to be bosses only of their own companies, as Margaret Busby (left) was of Allison & Busby and Rosemarie Hudson is of BlackAmber. Now, in response to the decibel report into cultural diversity, co-sponsored by the Arts Council and the Bookseller, a Diversity in Publishing Network will highlight contributions from "ethnic minorities" and so encourage others. Time Warner and Penguin have new schemes to foster minority entrants, while Faber and Random House are advertising "positive action traineeships". Until now there has been a vicious circle: while publishing remains a white industry it will not attract other applicants. Everyone needs a mentor.

Andrea Levy is a crucial fictional voice of non-white Britain whose career was almost scuppered by a lack of top-level support from large publishers - although she did have firm champions, notably Geraldine Cooke at Review. Now Levy looks set to become this year's Mark Haddon as a bulk harvester of top prizes. Small Island has added, to its Orange and Whitbread victories, the Commonwealth Writers Prize for best book in the Eurasia region. It goes to the overall Commonwealth Prize judging in Malta next month with a strong chance of success.

Comments