African publisher Cassava Republic to launch in UK

African publisher Cassava Republic to launch in UK

Cassava Republic Press, an African publishing house which aims to "change the way the world thinks about African writing", is set to launch in the UK in April 2016.

Its founder Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, now based in London, said the move heralds "the birthing of African publishing onto the world stage”.

Cassava Republic, headquartered in Abuja, Nigeria, will offer an "eclectic" list of literary fiction, crime, young adult fiction, children’s books, and romantic fiction under the Ankara Press imprint, and intends to "spotlight the vibrancy and diversity of prose by African writers on the continent and in the diaspora".

The publisher's list features Elnathan John’s "breathtakingly beautiful" Born on a Tuesday, which tackles unexplored aspects of friendship, love, trauma and politics in recent northern Nigerian history, Sarah Ladipo Manyika’s "mesmerising" Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun, a subtle story about ageing, friendship and loss and the erotic yearnings of an older woman, along with the "pulsating" crime novels Easy Motion Tourist by Leye Adenle and The Lazurus Effect by H.J. Golokai. The list also features Abubakar Adam Ibrahim’s Season of Crimson Blossoms - a "controversial and gripping story" of an affair between a devoted Muslim grandmother and a 25-year-old drug dealer and political thug. 

The publisher said the books were "bound to cause a ripple", with Cassava’s launch list representing an "exciting new body of African literature linking writers across different times and spaces and genres".

Bakare-Yusuf is joined in London by Emma Shercliff, formerly m.d. of Macmillan English Campus and head of export sales at Hodder Education, who brings a "truly international and cross-cultural dynamic" to Cassava.  

Bakare-Yusuf said: "It is exciting to be launching Cassava Republic Press in the UK both as an intervention and as an opportunity to introduce the diversity of writings coming out of the continent. What we are doing is unprecedented: an African publishing house establishing a base in the UK after nearly 10 years in Africa rather than the reverse. This is the birthing of African publishing onto the world stage."

Shercliff said: "Having worked with Cassava Republic in Abuja for almost two years, I am delighted to be starting this new venture with Bibi in London. The feedback we have already received from the UK trade has been fantastic; there is a renewed interest in literature from Africa and we feel particularly excited about introducing some very special authors who are already celebrated in Africa, but practically unknown in the UK, to a wider audience."

In partnership with the British Council as part of their UK/Nigeria 2015-16 programme, Cassava Republic Press will showcase the breadth of talent on the list across UK literature festivals next April. Today’s announcement coincides with a BBC Radio 4 special on the Nigerian literary scene, entitled ‘Writing a New Nigeria’, to be broadcast at 11.30am on Thursday 26th November and Thursday 3rd December, featuring publishers Bakare-Yusuf and Shercliff and Cassava Republic Press authors John, Ibrahim and Toni Kan.