People of Letters


21st Century (2000-2010)

With the start of a new millennium, hopes for a greater diversity in publishing were revived by the popularity of a series of books by and about people of colour. Zadie Smith’s White Teeth (1999), Monica Ali’s Brick Lane (2003), Andrea Levy’s Small Island (2004) and Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger (2008) all achieved commercial and prize-winning success. Yet more had to be done to bolster the success of these breakthrough titles. From 2003-2008 Arts Council England set up decibel - a cross arts intervention programme, which included the prize ‘decibel Writer of the Year Award’ at the National Book Awards. Also within this programme was a report co-commissioned by The Bookseller. ‘Books for All’ (2006) highlighted the dominance of white, middle-class people in publishing and an uninterested attitude towards diversity in books. As such, organisations such as Words of Colour (2005) and the Diversity in Publishing Network (co-founded by Elise Dillsworth and Alison Morrison in 2005) were founded in order to challenge the status quo and encourage diversity.