Basic Books UK, John Murray Press' new imprint, has acquired Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male Power by Ijeoma Oluo to publish as its first title in 2021.
Senior editor Kate Craigie acquired UK and Commonwealth rights from Amber Hoover at Hachette Books US, via Lauren Abramo at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret.
Mediocre will explore the last 150 years of American history, from the post-Reconstruction South and the mythic stories of cowboys in the West, to the backlash against the rise of women in politics and protests against police brutality. Oluo will ask: "What happens when generation after generation of white men are told they deserve power? And what happens when success is defined by status over women and people of colour, instead of by actual accomplishments?"
Craigie said: "As the US prepares for its most important election ever and as, here in Britain, we are finally being forced to confront long-held delusions that police brutality and systemic racism are problems unique to the US, Ijeoma’s voice–sharp, clear-eyed, compassionate and powerful–is urgently needed. Mediocre is deeply researched, passionate and compelling and I am very proud to be publishing this book on the new Basic Books list."
Oluo added: "I don’t think it has ever been easy to be a woman of colour in America but these last few years have been harder. ‘How did we get here?’ is the question everyone seems to be asking. As I looked back through our history, I started to see patterns. I started to see how time and time again, anything perceived as a threat to white manhood has been attacked. In sharing some of these stories in Mediocre, I aim to draw a portrait of what white male mediocrity looks like and how it attempts to perpetuate itself. With a clear view of our past, we may then consider trying something new for our future."
Oluo's first book, So You Want to Talk About Race, was published by Seal Press in the US and was distributed in the UK in in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter protests; it was number 11 on The Bookseller's Small Publisher's Top 20 Non-Fiction Chart in June.
Mediocre will be published on 21st January 2021.