World Book Night defends lack of BAME writers on 2016 list

World Book Night defends lack of BAME writers on 2016 list

The Reading Agency has responded to criticism about the lack of ethnic diversity among authors chosen for the World Book Night 2016 list, saying it is a “great shame” that there are no Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) writers included.

The list for World Book Night 2016, which is run by The Reading Agency, includes 15 books spanning crime, poetry, non-fiction, YA, historical fiction, and fiction in translation.

Following the announcement of the list yesterday there has been criticism over the lack of writers from BAME backgrounds.

In a piece for The Bookseller, author Nikesh Shukla said World Book Night is “wonderfully charitable way of spreading your love of reading with friends and strangers alike”.

However, he said: “Much as World Book Night has bravely decided to diversify the types of books offered for its lists by including fiction, non-fiction, genre and translated works, it seems to have left off any Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) writers in 2016. Which is, in my eyes, a sadly wasted opportunity to be truly diverse.”

World Book Night project manager Rose Goddard, writing for The Bookseller, said that it was a “great shame, and with huge regret…that we weren’t able to include any works by BAME authors this year”.

She said the project was an “extraordinary industry initiative achieved through a wide coalition of authors, publishers, printers, distributors and other partners”.

“However, like all charitable initiatives the funding model and submissions process which underpins it also shapes its delivery,” said Goddard. “The curation of the final books is not simply a question of choosing freely from publishers’ lists; publishers submit titles for the list and financially support the printing of the titles selected and the programme overall… Each year we strive to strike a balance across the list. This year, despite our best efforts, we have not been successful in respect of BAME writers.”

She added: “We will use this year’s experience and feedback to build support to help shape World Book Night lists of the future; they should and can be a home to diverse, wonderful and brilliant books by authors from all walks of life.”