News

Tamarind: 'more multicultural writing needed'

Publisher Tamarind Books has called for more writers and illustrators to tackle multicultural issues in their work, pointing to a lack of strong writing in this area. Fiction editor Parul Bavishi said: "I am looking for great multicultural books, but it is hard to attract good submissions."

Tamarind, which was originally established by Verna Wilkins, is now part of the Random House Group. The publisher had previously focused on picture books and illustrated stories for younger readers but is extending its list in 2012 to include more fiction for children aged eight years plus and young adult readers.

However, Tamarind has struggled to find the kinds of multicultural books it is looking for. "Authors themselves don't need to come from a mixed community—although that can work well—but I am essentially looking for strong stories and a good mix of ages," said Bavishi. "It has to be a beautiful story—not a focus on the fact that the main character is not middle-class or white." 

Bavishi attributed the scarcity of writing in this area to a lack of role models. "We need more writers of the calibre of Malorie Blackman and Bali Rai, who can access the mainstream market and provide strong role models for young people who wouldn't otherwise consider writing as an option."

Authors Jamila Gavin, Benjamin Zephaniah and Meera Syal are among Tamarind's newly announced patrons, alongside Michael Rosen and founder Verna Wilkins. Publisher Annie Eaton said: "We hope they will get involved in events for Tamarind and that they will write for the list, and get diversity talked about."

Among Tamarind Books' forthcoming highlights are Now is the Time for Running by Cape Town Opera director Michael Williams, about two brothers fleeing Zimbabwe, and fiction titles by British Olympic gold medal-holder Christine Ohuruogu about a girl who discovers her talent for running. The Tamarind Star series, which profiles individuals, will continue with Sporting Heroes in June 2012.

Tamarind will continue to publish picture books for younger readers, including newly illustrated books from its backlist, said deputy publisher Sue Buswell.

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I agree. The lack of good submissions in this area is surprising and disappointing.

If you go on authonomy you will find my recent submission Guantánamo, firmly grounded in transcultural roots but not exactly a story of personal triumph over racial, ethnic or cultural prejudice. A salacious tale of false love in exchange for a U.S. visa, with loose references to American exceptionalism in history, I don´t know if it´s the kind of material you´re looking to supply your readership, but if you´re interested I could submit it.

Could not agree more - that's why I helped start an indie publishing company focused on multicultural stories about different countries written by authors from those countries.
Still a long way to go.

www.HartlynKids.com

I finally self-published my multicultural YA novel after it was sent out at the height of the 2008 recession and couldn't find a publisher despite lots of hosannas.

I used my experience of working in the fields as a young girl (for college money) as well as the time I lived in Mexico.

Much of the motivation for finishing this story came from my time as an editor for an educational publisher. While searching for selections for our multicultural classroom anthologies, we found wonderful writing, but not enough of it from a variety of authors and hardly any about young Latinas who worked in the fields--which I know to be such a common experience of many first-generation immigrants from Mexico.

Good post. Important topic.

Rebecca Burke, author
When I Am Singing to You
http://www.amazon.com/When-Am-Singing-You-ebook/dp/B004ZURWMU

It's important to research each publisher to find the ones with authors in your particular genre. If you target the publishers who specialise in your kind of writing you increase your chances of success. It may sound obvious but this is one of the main mistakes authors make. I was interested a few months ago to hear a successful London literary agent asks her PA to check Authonomy for good writers, so it's worth using.

In today's industry it is increasingly difficult for authors of any subject to even get to publisher's slush pile in order to make a submission. Literary Agents are increasingly looking for broad appeal in their new acquisitions so the opportunities for new authors to even submit a multicultural work are limited. As a new author dealing with multicultural fiction, I sought out a publisher with experience in Japan since that is my area of interest. This post seems like a good first step in reaching out to those authors who have multinational experience.

Publishers look for authors from a variety of cultures. I also know a good London literary agent and I recommend any exceptional authors I meet to her as they aren't necessarily right for my list. I know she is particularly interested in multicultural authors too. But the book has to be outstanding (any books we accept have to be) and it has to be right for the publisher or agent you apply to.

It feels odd to me to be in such a multicultural city (London) and to have failed to find authors who reflect this. I've tried but the submissions just haven't been up to our standard yet. However, I know publishers really look for multicultural writing, so it could be that the authors I would accept have been snapped up when they go for the major publishers.

It can be a mistake to submit to a publisher because they have a book in a particular cultural setting. For example, we have a novel set in Cambodia, so I've been inundated by authors with books set in Cambodia or by Cambodian authors. We don't have a large list and we already have one author writing novels in that setting so submitting Cambodian novels to us isn't the best idea.

Hi Rebecca,

I would like to consider Spanish language rights for WHEN I AM SINGING TO YOU.

Please send me a note and I will be happy to tell you more about Ediciones Castillo.

Very best,

Karen

Hi Karen,

Please feel free to contact me at ramburke@yahoo.com. I'm very interested to hear what you have to say.

Cheers,
Rebecca

I'd like to submit my manuscript. Are you accepting?

Sandra

I'm not sure who you're asking, Sandra, but you need to go to the publisher website in each case and see what sort of book they publish, and if yours fits then look at their submissions page. Multicultural books of a high standard submitted to the right publisher or literary agent after research by the author stand a very good chance of being accepted. They are in demand.

Hi Karen,

You wouldn't have received my earlier reply if you didn't go back to the Tamarind/Bookseller site, so my apologies.

I'd be very curious what Ediciones Castillo is about. My email address: ramburke@yahoo.com.

If you would like to read When I Am Singing to You, here is a coupon code, free and good at Smashwords until 2-16-12: WT89V.

One of the downsides to self-publishing is that I could not use Gabriela Mistral's poem "Serenity" in my ebook like I did in the original novel mss. I quote it briefly in the introduction but would have liked to show it in full as it is so powerful and resonant with the story.

All the best,
Rebecca Burke

I agree. The lack of good submissions in this area is surprising and disappointing.

If you go on authonomy you will find my recent submission Guantánamo, firmly grounded in transcultural roots but not exactly a story of personal triumph over racial, ethnic or cultural prejudice. A salacious tale of false love in exchange for a U.S. visa, with loose references to American exceptionalism in history, I don´t know if it´s the kind of material you´re looking to supply your readership, but if you´re interested I could submit it.

Could not agree more - that's why I helped start an indie publishing company focused on multicultural stories about different countries written by authors from those countries.
Still a long way to go.

www.HartlynKids.com

I finally self-published my multicultural YA novel after it was sent out at the height of the 2008 recession and couldn't find a publisher despite lots of hosannas.

I used my experience of working in the fields as a young girl (for college money) as well as the time I lived in Mexico.

Much of the motivation for finishing this story came from my time as an editor for an educational publisher. While searching for selections for our multicultural classroom anthologies, we found wonderful writing, but not enough of it from a variety of authors and hardly any about young Latinas who worked in the fields--which I know to be such a common experience of many first-generation immigrants from Mexico.

Good post. Important topic.

Rebecca Burke, author
When I Am Singing to You
http://www.amazon.com/When-Am-Singing-You-ebook/dp/B004ZURWMU

Hi Rebecca,

I would like to consider Spanish language rights for WHEN I AM SINGING TO YOU.

Please send me a note and I will be happy to tell you more about Ediciones Castillo.

Very best,

Karen

Hi Karen,

Please feel free to contact me at ramburke@yahoo.com. I'm very interested to hear what you have to say.

Cheers,
Rebecca

Hi Karen,

You wouldn't have received my earlier reply if you didn't go back to the Tamarind/Bookseller site, so my apologies.

I'd be very curious what Ediciones Castillo is about. My email address: ramburke@yahoo.com.

If you would like to read When I Am Singing to You, here is a coupon code, free and good at Smashwords until 2-16-12: WT89V.

One of the downsides to self-publishing is that I could not use Gabriela Mistral's poem "Serenity" in my ebook like I did in the original novel mss. I quote it briefly in the introduction but would have liked to show it in full as it is so powerful and resonant with the story.

All the best,
Rebecca Burke

It's important to research each publisher to find the ones with authors in your particular genre. If you target the publishers who specialise in your kind of writing you increase your chances of success. It may sound obvious but this is one of the main mistakes authors make. I was interested a few months ago to hear a successful London literary agent asks her PA to check Authonomy for good writers, so it's worth using.

In today's industry it is increasingly difficult for authors of any subject to even get to publisher's slush pile in order to make a submission. Literary Agents are increasingly looking for broad appeal in their new acquisitions so the opportunities for new authors to even submit a multicultural work are limited. As a new author dealing with multicultural fiction, I sought out a publisher with experience in Japan since that is my area of interest. This post seems like a good first step in reaching out to those authors who have multinational experience.

Publishers look for authors from a variety of cultures. I also know a good London literary agent and I recommend any exceptional authors I meet to her as they aren't necessarily right for my list. I know she is particularly interested in multicultural authors too. But the book has to be outstanding (any books we accept have to be) and it has to be right for the publisher or agent you apply to.

It feels odd to me to be in such a multicultural city (London) and to have failed to find authors who reflect this. I've tried but the submissions just haven't been up to our standard yet. However, I know publishers really look for multicultural writing, so it could be that the authors I would accept have been snapped up when they go for the major publishers.

It can be a mistake to submit to a publisher because they have a book in a particular cultural setting. For example, we have a novel set in Cambodia, so I've been inundated by authors with books set in Cambodia or by Cambodian authors. We don't have a large list and we already have one author writing novels in that setting so submitting Cambodian novels to us isn't the best idea.

I'd like to submit my manuscript. Are you accepting?

Sandra

I'm not sure who you're asking, Sandra, but you need to go to the publisher website in each case and see what sort of book they publish, and if yours fits then look at their submissions page. Multicultural books of a high standard submitted to the right publisher or literary agent after research by the author stand a very good chance of being accepted. They are in demand.