The first acquisition for Stormzy's new imprint #Merky Books is Taking Up Space by Chelsea Kwakye and Ore Ogunbiyi: a book tackling issues around access to higher education, billed as "a guide and a manifesto for change".
Issues particularly covered will be challenges of access, unrepresentative curriculums, discrimination in the classroom, the problems of activism, and life before and after university.
In the context of discussions surrounding a lack of diversity and inclusion at higher education level, the book "seeks to fill the gap of often incomplete conversations about widening participation and inclusion at university", according to its two authors - two recent Cambridge graduates, whose own insights will be interspersed in the book with their conversations with students past and present.
Tom Avery of #Merky Books, who did the deal for World rights with Carrie Plitt at Felicity Bryan Associates, said Kwakye and Ogunbiyi were "determined to tackle what is one of the biggest issues in education and in society today with intelligence, insight and humour", calling Taking Up Space "an important book: an indispensable guide as well as a manifesto for real and lasting change". It will be published by #Merky Books in summer 2019.
Kwakye [left], who is now on course to join a city law firm in London, was the only black girl in her year group of around 200 to read History at Homerton College, Cambridge. She graduated with first-class honours, and in her final year was Vice-President of the African-Caribbean Society. Ogunbiyi [right] is a Politics and International Relations graduate from Jesus College, Cambridge, and was behind the Benin Bronze repatriation campaign, the #BlackMenofCambridgeUniversity campaign and was President of the university’s African-Caribbean Society.
Jointly, they commented: "Diversity and inclusion have become buzzwords, especially in education, but it is time that we had honest conversations about what those two words truly mean, especially for young black girls. Through our stories and the experiences of past and present university students, this book seeks to fill the gap of often incomplete conversations about widening participation and inclusion at university. It will be the book that we wish we had before going into university and we hope it provides a comfort to those who will inevitably share our experiences."
#Merky Books was announced as a new imprint within William Heinemann, part of Penguin Random House UK, in July of this year. With the aim of publishing two to three titles a year in collaboration with the grime rapper, it is due to launch in November with a book from Stormzy himself, entitled Rise Up: The #Merky Story So Far. The publishing programme also includes an open submission competition to find new works of fiction, non-fiction or poetry, and a paid internship.