Picador has triumphed in a six-way auction for I Heard What You Said by Jeffrey Boakye, a “smart and witty” look at racism in British schools.
Editorial director Kris Doyle acquired world rights in a six-figure deal, from Sarah Such at the Sarah Such Literary Agency. Picador will publish simultaneously in hardback, e-book and audiobook, with a date to be announced.
Boakye is a black teacher and the book aims to explain what life is really like for Britain’s black teachers and students.
Its synopsis explains: “Through a series of encounters based on things people have said to him or about him, Jeffrey describes his experience of racism, both structural and personal. Because he’s a great teacher, Jeffrey presents these shocking stories as a learning opportunity, a chance to help his students, his readers and the world to better understand one of the biggest problems we face. He also explains why we must all decolonise the curriculum and diversify schools if we want to eradicate racism.”
Doyle said: “This is one of those special books that everyone at Picador is proud to have acquired. It aims for nothing less than a revolution: to dismantle racism in our education system. A massive ambition, sure; but the proposal is so convincing, and he’s such a good communicator and passionate educator, that everyone at Picador believes Jeffrey and his brilliant book could do it. I can’t imagine anybody could read I Heard What You Said and not be on board. Jeffrey’s book, as artful as it is political, will sit alongside those I’ve published by The Secret Barrister, Darren McGarvey and Kate Clanchy – and I’ve no doubt it will be as widely discussed.”
Boakye is a writer, teacher and father of two originally from Brixton, south London, now living in East Yorkshire with his wife and sons. He has a particular interest in issues surrounding race, education and popular culture. His first book Hold Tight: Black Masculinity, Millennials, and the Meaning of Grime (Influx) was published in 2017. His follow up Black, Listed: Black British Culture Explored (Dialogue) was released in 2019.
He said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be working with Picador on the publication of I Heard What You Said. Picador is a publisher with an incredible vision for bringing vital conversations to the forefront and I know this is exactly what we will achieve with this project. I’m excited and energised to bring this book to the widest readership with a publisher that I trust implicitly and respect greatly. The world is currently locked into profound conversations surrounding social justice, inequality and oppression. Now, more than ever, we need writers and publishers who are committed to bringing about a brighter future. That’s what I’m here for and that’s what I Heard What You Said is setting out to do.”
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