‘Black Book Swap is a half day literary event that showcases and celebrates the writing of black authors.
The idea sprung from four black women who adored books and attended literary events to support and hear from authors they admired. However, we found that while there were many books and authors of interest, authors we had read rarely appeared on the programme. We couldn’t understand why London, a world-leading city with enormous cultural power, held literary events that excluded such talented, wonderful black writers.
We created Black Book Swap in 2012 as an opportunity for those authors and writers. While none of the founding team worked in publishing, we had the skills (we were a couple of marketers and a couple of policy planners) and the passion; we could organise and fund our own literary gathering. In addition to interviews, we also recycle books we no longer want so that others have the chance to read them. We’re fortunate to have been gifted book collections, so our book swap table is regularly refreshed. That’s how the name Black Book Swap was born.
Over the years the BBS planning team has changed, but our fundamental reason for Black Book Swap remains. So far, we have had almost 50 authors take part, and the list of guests we’ve had over the years is impressive, even if we do say so ourselves. So far, we’ve welcomed: Alex Wheatle; Colin Grant; Bim Adewunmi; Jenny Garrett; Courttia Newland; Hannah Azieb Pool, Patricia Cumper; Chibundu Onuzo; Yvvette Edwards; Dreda Say Mitchell; Gabriel Gbadamosi; Nii Ayikwei Parkes; Dean Atta; Marilyn Heward Mills; Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi; Irenosen Okojie; Paula Lennon; Ola Awonubi; Lloyd Bradley; Malika Booker;; Bernardine Evaristo; Catherine Johnson; Lemn Sissay; Rasheeda Malcolm; Zuri Amarcya; Sareeta Domingo Noo Sara Wiwa Dorothy Koomson; Desiree Reynolds; Lola Jaye; Vanessa Bolosier; Michelle Asantewa; Chimaechi Allan; Rasheda Malcolm; Nadifa Mohamed; Amanda Epe; Frances Mensah Williams; DD Armstrong; Ellen Bandu Aaku; Andrea Stuart; Eva G Headley; Shirley Antsis; Jacqueline Shaw.
These authors have heritages drawn from all parts of the world – not that that is always relevant to the stories they tell. It is, after all, creativity that is important here. We have been supported by publishers – especially those that specialise in sharing stories from underrepresented voices in the industry.
A massive thank you to Jacaranda and Peepal Tree Press – we remain ever grateful. Additionally, we’d like to thank the public who have supported us from day one, bought tickets and books to swap and who took a chance on us. I hope, I believe both our audience and writers had a wonderful time swapping ideas, inspirations and books.
The next Black Book Swap (our eleventh) will take place at Canada Water Library on Saturday 3 November.
We’ll talk to Diana Evans about her latest novel, Ordinary People, which explores black love and relationships within a south-London setting. Crime fiction writer Leye Adenle will tell us about his sequel to the acclaimed Easy Motion Tourist entitled When the Trouble Sleeps, which sees the return of the Lagos based social worker and crime fighter Amaka. Better known as The Black Farmer, the entrepreneur and businessman, Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones will share his theories on risk, and speak to his personal development/business guidebook Jeopardy: The Danger of Playing it Safe on the Path to Success. And lastly, writer-poet JJ Bola whose Refuge: The Complete Poetry of JJ Bola was published earlier this month, and we look forward to hearing what he selects for his Desert Island Books, those books he would take with him if marooned on a desert island.
We’d love to see you there: book a place here.’
Find out more about the Black Book Swap here: Facebook.com/BlackBookSwap, @BlackBookSwap