中国商用飞机有限责任公司( 简称“中国商飞公司”) 是经国务院批准成立，由国务院国有资产监督管理委员会、上海国盛（集团）有限公司、中国航空工业集团公司、中国铝业公司、宝钢集团有限公司、中国中化股份有限公司共同出资组建，由国家控股的有限责任公司。公司于2008年5月11日在上海揭牌成立，总部设在上海。公司董事长、党委书记：金壮龙，总经理：贺东风。
In December 2015, British publishing stood accused of woeful blindness to diversity, and not for the first time, after World Book Night (WBN) announced its titles, and none of the 15 books was by a writer of colour. An apology was issued by organisers but a wider malaise had already set in, and along with it, the troubling feeling that WBN’s oversight was less an isolated incident and more a recurring pattern of exclusion that stretched across the literary establishment.
A report on the state of the books industry had been published earlier that year by the development agency Spread the Word, which drew attention to how intransigently white, middle-class (and further up the ladder, male) it remained, from literary festivals and prizes to publications and personnel. Then, last autumn, there was more embarrassing exposure when World Book Day – which focuses on children’s titles – issued its own all-white book list and an independent publisher, OWN IT! flagged up the fact that only one black, British male debut novelist had been published in 2016 (which they published). Earlier this year, there was talk of a boycott when theCarnegie medal for children’s literature revealed its all-white longlist.
The industry has been announcing strategies for change since 2015. Publishing houses have rolled out paid internships, mentoring schemes and traineeships to attract socially under-represented and BAME applicants on an unprecedented scale, as well as creating opportunities for women to move into boardrooms.
To name a few recent initiatives: Penguin Random House is offering interest-free rent loans (to draw more applicants from outside London), and has set a company goal “for all new hires and the books we acquire to reflect UK society by 2025 in terms of social mobility, ethnicity, gender, disability, and sexuality”. Faber’s schemes include scholarships on its novel-writing course; HarperCollins is launching programmes for BAME employees and those taking long-term parental leave, while Hachette is encouraging diversity at an executive level (in a mentoring scheme with board members) and working with the Stephen Lawrence Trust in speaking to students in inner-city schools.
The industry body, the Publishers’ Association (PA), has brought out a 10-point “action plan”. Last month it staged its second Inclusivity in Publishing day with London book fair, where culture minister Matt Hancock gave a keynote speech (although the ￡200 price tag of a single ticket was somewhat ironic for a conference tackling social exclusion).
Some schemes show promising signs. Penguin’s WriteNow campaign, which connects aspiring writers from socially excluded communities to agents, editors and authors, is helping to demystify these professions. The charity Creative Access has enabled publishers to recruit and pay BAME interns (although its government funding was cut by ￡2m last year). Some literary festivals such as Cheltenham, Henley and Bradford are programming inclusively to improve the 1% national average of BAME panellists. Sarah Shaffi and Wei-Ming Kam have co-founded the BAME in Publishing network. WBN, for its part, has rethought its submissions process so that the cost is not prohibitive to smaller presses and out of 26 titles on its 2017 list, eight were by BAME authors.
It appears to be a turning point for British publishing, and yet those who have been around for long enough feel a profound sense of deja vu, not least because there have been mentorship schemes and initiatives before, yet the industry has always failed to maintain the diversity it has achieved. And where some publishers continue to reach for “schemes” or blame blockages elsewhere in the pipeline, independent publishers such as Canongate, Oneworld, Bloomsbury and Unbound have long been weaving inclusivity into their lists without the need for formal targets or traineeships.
Margaret Busby, the writer and pioneering publisher, regards the endeavour for better representation in publishing as a Sisyphean struggle begun decades ago and still no closer to being won. Mainstream publishing, she says, is too institutionalised in its biases to be corrected by a few new authors or schemes.
In the 1980s she helped to found Greater Access to Publishing (GAP), a group that campaigned to diversify the industry. An article she co-wrote with Virago publisher Lennie Goodings for the trade press in 1988 posed questions that are still being asked today, such as: “What are publishers doing to make their companies a more accurate reflection of their lists, readers and society?”
A decade later, the Arts Council brought in publishing traineeships for black and Asian candidates, whom Busby mentored. Another Arts Council scheme followed 10 years later to address representation in the workforce. In 2005, the Diversity in Publishing Network (Dipnet) was started and after that, Equip, a Publishing Equalities Charter in 2012. “What’s happening now is more initiatives,” Busby says. “But the problem can’t be solved with initiatives.”
There is overwhelming agreement among excluded communities that systemic change can only happen when inclusivity is filtered upwards. There is not yet gender parity on boards, even though women outnumber men in the industry; a lack of social diversity is one of its most stubborn problems and there are only a handful of BAME publishing executives who hold the power to buy books.
One change that has been universally praised is Little, Brown’s high-level appointment of Sharmaine Lovegrove as publisher of Dialogue Books, a new inclusive imprint. She has been in the job for five months but feels that even with these latest schemes, the industry is far from egalitarian: “It feels to me incredibly traditional and in need of rejuvenation in order to future-proof. For decades, you have had white, middle-class people acquiring books by white, middle-class people. I’m a black, middle-class woman who lives in London with Jamaican heritage and I speak German, having lived and worked in Berlin. All of that, when I’m looking for stories, makes my prism much wider than that of some of my colleagues in the broader industry, yet my difference highlights an issue rather than being celebrated for its insights, and that is exhausting.”
Lovegrove did not rise through the ranks but forged a 20-year career outside mainstream publishing (as a literary scout, a bookseller and literary editor of Elle). But why does inclusivity have to have its own ring-fenced imprint? Shouldn’t it be part of every imprint rather than becoming its own distinctive brand?
And exceptionalism can bring its own burdens; when the few representatives who have reached the higher echelons leave their posts, the system reverts back to type, argues Kadija George, the publisher of SABLE LitMag, one of Britain’s oldest publications for writers of colour. “When the [African-born] editor Ellah Wakatama Allfrey was at Jonathan Cape, she brought in authors of colour. When she left, it went back to the way it was before. What happens when Sharmaine Lovegrove leaves? It’s the equivalent of letting one person into Oxford but not giving them any support and expecting them to fly. It’s how to get that second and third person in there.”
Allfrey, who co-founded her own independent press, Indigo, last month, feels that recruitment in itself is not the solution. “The real issue is retention – making sure the recruits are still there in 10 or 20 years’ time.”
Sharmilla Beezmohun was mentored by Busby in 1993 in an Arts Council scheme and now runs a live literary events company, Speaking Volumes. “In my time with the big publishers, I felt I didn’t speak the language that other people spoke. I and many others took sideways steps. Ten years later, the Arts Council revived the scheme. Where has this second cohort ended up? Again, taking sideways steps. It doesn’t matter how many schemes you have. If there is a glass ceiling, people will continue to move sideways and to do their own independent work.”
Few, though, can deny that the fortunes of some authors have transformed in recent times. BAME writing is in demand and being spoken of as its own “market”. What is striking among these writers is that they were not championed by the establishment but found a way to publication through alternative streams. The writer and campaigner Nikesh Shukla put together an anthology of BAME writing, The Good Immigrant, because he felt these voices were not being heard, and crowdfunded it with the publisher, Unbound, in 2016. It has showcased a host of new talent and sold 60,000 copies.
Reni Eddo-Lodge was in the anthology and this year released her book, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, which grew out of a blog. Published in June, it has become a bestseller and was longlisted for the Baillie Gifford prize for non-fiction. Added to this has been the surprise success of Oneworld, whose authors – Marlon James and Paul Beatty, both black and little known in Britain – won the Man Booker prize successively in 2015 and 2016.
These commercial and critical successes have proved what had been doubted in the traditional industry for so long: that non-white writers can attract audiences, and sales. The next wave of young black authors to be causing a stir have been taken up by big imprints – Afua Hirsch’s bookBrit(ish) is being published by Jonathan Cape, while Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinene’s debut, Slay in Your Lane: The Black Girl Bible, was bought in a nine-way auction by 4th Estate.
While Shukla acknowledges that there is greater visibility for writers of colour, he is torn between that optimism and the fear that “skin colour is being seen as a trend and not something that’s about societal good”. He has heard the industry talking about “black girls [being] on trend”, and Lovegrove feels that its integrity is undermined by the problematic politics of this labelling. “I’ve heard it described as ‘this marketplace of BAME authors’, which is triggering given the slave trade … It signifies that those who are leading this, even with the best intentions, have little concept of how to talk about people from a range of backgrounds.”
Although greater numbers of BAME authors give the impression of widening inclusivity, these writers, for all their achievements, are often expected to write about identity whatever their chosen genre. Abir Mukherjee is among a dynamic new circle of British Asian crime novelists that includes AA Dhand, Imran Mahmood and Alexander Khan; he has been told that his work is not “authentically Asian enough”, even though his debut, A Rising Man, recently won the CWA Endeavour Dagger for historical crime fiction. “Would you ask a writer from Northern Ireland only to write about the Troubles?” he asks.
The 2015 Spread the Word report showed that BAME writers were much less likely to have ongoing support and many still report this to be the case. So what you end up with is “fragmentation”, says Dee Jarrett-Macauley, chair of the board of trustees at the Caine prize for African writing and the first black chair in its 18-year history. “You have flavours of the month, you have two black Booker winners, you have schemes.”
Eddo-Lodge certainly felt unsupported by the infrastructure: “Opportunities opened up to me once I had proved myself. There was no wider support. It was just me plugging away mostly by myself. Many times I thought about quitting. The only time I felt invested in was when Bloomsbury took me on. They pulled out all the guns. I remember my first meeting with them, thinking: ‘What just happened?’”
And while there is a greater buzz around inclusive works, it is still largely being produced outside mainstream spaces: small presses such as Cassava Republic and Jacaranda Books have shown dynamism despite limited resources. Shukla has crowd-funded another Unbound anthology, Rife, and also a quarterly journal for BAME voices, the Good Journal, to run its issues across a year.
The Barelit literary festival – which was set up in 2016 out of frustration at the lack of diversity in Britain’s festival culture – crowdfunded its ￡11,000 overheads and attracted around 450 people in its first year and 600 this year, despite no marketing budget.
Syima Aslam and Irna Qureshi, two British Asians from Bradford, set up a festival for their city in 2015, financing it themselves and embedding inclusivity into the core of their programming. It has grown and attracted significant Arts Council funding as well as private sponsorship.
Many have hailed these projects as the “new mainstream”, which combines an inclusive outlook with alternative funding streams and online social media technology used to spread the word. The aim is to hit mainstream publishing with a ripple effect and some, including the writer and campaigner Sunny Singh, feel a “great amount of institutional resistance” to it but also that “an enormous number of people are not only galvanised but working with each other. I have seen it build this past year. It’s a new energy”.
The question of ongoing resource and reach remains, though, despite the solidarity and imagination in this “alternative” mainstream. The author Kit de Waal, who has campaigned energetically against class prejudice in publishing, says much of her work feels like “trying to kick a door down from the outside”. It is time that the industry “offered us a seat at the table”.
If that seat is not offered, the future for small, innovative initiatives remains financially unstable, pitted as they are against a far more powerful traditional system. What happens to the Good Journal when its first year of funding is used up, for example? And how viable will smaller presses be if they are left to take all the risks, with big publishers rocking in to buy up the authors they have championed through the early stages, once they begin to win prizes?
Louise Doughty, the novelist who is championing a BAME bursary for the MA in creative writing at UEA, feels a moral urgency for mainstream inclusion: “Recent political developments – Brexit, the rise of Trump – have seen an explosion of pernicious and divisive narratives in our public discourse, the use of othering and scapegoating as political tools. It’s in everybody’s interests for those narratives to be countered.”
If the moral argument is not convincing enough, there is another, more market-driven incentive for British publishing to address its problems with inclusivity, and that is to stop it becoming a faded industry on the global landscape. Some suggest that Britain is facing the prospect of a brain drain of BAME writers to Europe and America, where inclusivity is better embraced.
Aminatta Forna, a British novelist who teaches at Georgetown University in Washington DC, thinks that resistance to inclusion is already Britain’s loss. “There’s a black brain drain of authors to the US just as we have seen with black actors who became frustrated with the limited parts on offer in the UK: Zadie Smith, Hari Kunzru, Chris Abani, Caryl Phillips, Salman Rushdie, Fred D’Aguiar. Unless and until the publishing world realises that, nothing will change.” Beezmohun too has found that British writers of colour pull in big audiences, and translation deals, in Europe. “We take them to perform in tours and they sell out.”
From this standpoint, inclusivity might be more urgently needed by traditional publishing than by those it – however unconsciously – excludes. “It talks about inclusivity as if it is doing it for ‘us’,” says Lovegrove, who likens the culture of the bigger publishing houses to accountancy firms. “What it has fundamentally misunderstood is that ‘we’ don’t need saving. The industry desperately needs to flip the narrative and realise it needs us to become more dynamic, more agile, more creative. Its business model for the next generation depends on it.”