Canongate bags Renton's 'rigorous' account of slavery inheritance

Canongate bags Renton's 'rigorous' account of slavery inheritance

Canongate is to publish Alex Renton's examination of slavery's legacy, interrogated through the story of his ancestors' involvement in the trade. 

Hannah Knowles, editorial director, acquired world all language rights in Blood Legacy: Reckoning With a Family’s Story of Slavery from Jenny Brown at Jenny Brown Associates.

The publisher's synopsis states: "When British slavery in the Caribbean was abolished in 1833, it was not the newly liberated who received millions in compensation, but the enslavers. Some of their descendants are among the wealthiest and most powerful people in Britain today.

"A group of Caribbean countries is calling on 10 European nations to discuss payment of trillions of dollars in damages done by transatlantic slavery and its continuing legacy. As calls for a societal reckoning grow, white people must reflect on how this history of abuse and exploitation has benefited them.

"Through the story of his own ancestors’ history as slave and plantation owners, Alex Renton asks what inheritance has been passed to the descendants of slave owners and the enslaved, and crucially, how the former – Renton among them – can begin to make reparations for the past."

Renton is a journalist who has won awards for his work as an investigator, war correspondent and food policy writer. He has also worked for Oxfam, in East Asia, Haiti and on the Iraq war. Most recently he has been a columnist on the Times and a correspondent for Newsweek magazine. 

Commenting on Blood Legacy, he said: "The story of British slavery is not over, not least because I and many others have lived in wilful ignorance of our own ancestral histories. A more equitable, less divided society needs acknowledgement of this past and its role in making modern Britain and the people we are today. It is the very least we can do for the descendants of those we enslaved and exploited, many of whom are still affected by slavery's legacy."

Knowles added: "The one subject affluent white people remain consistently and conspicuously silent on is addressing the origins of their privilege and any accountability they may have as a result of it. Alex examines his own inheritance in this regard with a rigorous honesty and integrity, and challenges those with a similar legacy to do the same."

The book will be published on 6th May in hardback.