The Muslims wins prize for radical children’s fiction

The Muslims wins prize for radical children’s fiction

A children's book published by a tiny independent publisher has beaten off competition from authors such as Malala Yousafzai and Gill Lewis to win the Little Rebels Children's Book Award for Radical Fiction. Meanwhile, Familiar Stranger: A Life Between Two Islands by Stuart Hall (Allen Lane) and Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (Bloomsbury) were named the joint winners of the Bread & Roses Award for Radical Publishing.

The Muslims, written by Zanib Mian and in a comic-book style, explores the life of Omar who is proud to be Muslim and keen to apply Islamic teachings to his life. Along the way, however, he must navigate a new school and deal with its resident bully.

Judge and author Patrice Lawrence said: “This is a very funny and very effective challenge to the widespread misrepresentation of Muslims in the news. More children need to get to read this book”.

Mian published the book through her own company, Sweet Apple Books, in response to reports of a rise in faith-based bullying. She was chosen ahead of the seven other shortlisted authors: Malala Yousafzai, Elizabeth Laird, Sita Brahmachari, Kim Slater, Gill Lewis, Elys Dolan and Jessica Spanyol.

Lewis was also given a special commendation prize after being shortlisted for four of the six years that the award has been running.

The Little Rebels Children’s Book Award, now in its 6th year, is awarded by the Alliance of Radical Booksellers (ARB) and run by Housmans Bookshop and Letterbox Library. It was presented at the Radical Book Fair on Saturday 2nd June.

The winners of the Little Rebels's sister prize the Bread & Roses Award for Radical Publishing were also announced at the Book Fair, with two books named joint winners for the first time in the prize's history: Familiar Stranger: A Life Between Two Islands by Stuart Hall (Allen Lane) and Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (Bloomsbury).

Familiar Stranger (with Bill Schwarz) is the story, in his own words, of the "extraordinary" life of writer and thinker Stuart Hallduing post-war England, while Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race is an exploration of race relations in Britain today.

Bread & Roses Award Trustee, Nik Gorecki, said that the decision to share the award was "predicated on the notion that these two exceptional books compliment one another so well, offering two different approaches and levels of insight into the inter-relational dynamics of racism".

"Hall drew on a lifetime of experience and academic learning to offer a subtle yet complex perspective on empire, colonialism and identity", Goreki said. "Reni Eddo-Lodge’s direct writing style captures the immediacy of political discourse in the social media age, and unflinchingly turns a spotlight on the too-often unacknowledged manifestations of racism across society. The two books together provide readers with a rich inter-generational and inter-sectional narrative of black British experience and analysis.”