Paula Hawkins has become a patron of Anita Sethi’s I Belong Here foundation ahead of a tour marking the book of the same name.
A donation by The Girl on the Train (Transworld) author will support Sethi in her mission to get her book I Belong Here (Bloomsbury) to as wide a selection of people as possible. Sethi said this is a “fitting irony” as she was racially abused on a train journey, an experience recounted in her Wainwright Prize-shortlisted book.
Sethi will be embarking on an autumn tour of the north of England, retracing the route in I Belong Here and giving out free copies along the way to low income and marginalised groups. She has been awarded an RSL Literature Matters Award which will facilitate a series of free nature writing workshops for northern writers of colour and those from low-income backgrounds.
The I Belong Here foundation aims to increase access to reading, books, literature and the outdoors, helping to create a sense of belonging in all people, regardless of background, so they feel safe and welcome while journeying through the world. It was created in memory of Transworld publicist and FLIP co-founder Sophie Christopher.
Sethi commented: "I'm so thrilled to announce that the brilliant author Paula Hawkins is a patron of the I Belong Here foundation. I'm deeply grateful that her generous donation means that I will be able to retake the TransPennine train journey on which I was racially abused and told that I don't belong here, as well as walking Pennine pathways and journeying through UK countryside and cities, distributing free copies of I Belong Here along the way."
The books will be distributed "to help create a sense of belonging for all, including those who can't afford books and haven't before found themselves reflected in books”.
She added: “As the world reopens from lockdown and journeys become possible once more, I hope to help recalibrate the world into a fairer one for all to belong in and Paula Hawkins' support as patron is vital in this dream becoming a reality.”
Hawkins said: “I want to support Anita in her mission to get her brilliant book into the hands of as wide a selection of people as possible.”