New indie Hajar Press unveils first authors

New indie Hajar Press unveils first authors

Hajar Press, a new independent publishing house run by and for people of colour, has revealed its first six authors, whose books will be published next year. 

The press, which launched in August, raised more than half of its £10,000 goal to cover initial costs through a crowdfunding campaign in just two days. 

Its 2021 publications will include a prose poetry book on the feminist imagination by Lola Olufemi, poet Sarah Lasoye’s debut chapbook, a collection of poetry and short stories by Jamal Mehmood, a guide to prison abolition by Cradle Community, a historical novella by Yara Hawari and vignettes on a childhood in Gaza by Heba Hayek. The full list of titles is yet to be confirmed. 

Publisher and press co-founder Brekhna Aftab said: "We are incredibly proud to have a roster of writers who define what this project is all about, and with them we are building a community that responds to the erasure of our stories in revolutionary and truly beautiful ways. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank everyone who has contributed to the crowdfunder so far―your support means the world to us."

The press aims to tackle institutional racism in the industry, and will publish a range of politically engaged fiction and non-fiction by writers of colour. A statement on its website states: "We publish books and pamphlets by writers of colour with original and transformative ways of seeing, imagining and remaking our world. While people of colour are sidelined both in the notoriously exclusive and hierarchical world of publishing and in many conversations on the left, we reject the lukewarm tokenism of ‘diversity’ as a solution. Instead, we seek to address structural inequalities critically, speaking and writing on our own terms and using our voices to attack power―not to create the same elite with browner faces.

"Community and solidarity are central to our vision; we want to build community through our work by holding reading groups and other events and spaces to meet each other and share ideas. Our publications aim to challenge, connect and inspire our writers and readers to dream of and create another world together."

Commenting on the list of authors, Farhaana Arefin, co-publisher and co-founder, said: "It's hard to express how excited we are about each of our 2021 authors, for the majority of whom this is their first experience of publishing a book. The success of the crowdfunder in its first few days has been overwhelming and affirms the real need for our project. We hope our supporters will continue to donate so that we can bring out these exceptional works next year."