Bernardine Evaristo and Reni Eddo-Lodge have become the first Black British women to top the UK’s fiction and nonfiction paperback charts, in a week after Black authors criticised British publishing as a “hostile environment".
Evaristo’s Booker-winning novel 'Girl, Woman, Other' topped the paperback fiction chart this week, making her the first woman of colour to reach that spot. Eddo-Lodge also topped the paperback nonfiction chart with her 2017 book 'Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race', making her the first Black British author to hold the spot.
Reni Eddo-Lodge said it was "a horrible indictment of the publishing industry" that it had taken so long for a black British author to be No 1.
Several bestselling authors have spoken out against the predominantly white publishing world. Such as bestselling novelist Dorothy Koomson, who has slammed UK publishing as a "hostile environment for black authors" and criticised those in the industry for posting "gaslighting social media posts".
Koomson added, “Do better, publishing people. Do better, be better, treat us better. Talk to us, listen to us, stop going out there with words of support and look inside with your actions to improve the environment for black authors … enough public posturing, all right?"
A petition was also put forward by Waterstones staff, calling on the UK’s largest bookseller to financially support the Black Lives Matter movement, particularly as they are gaining "massive revenues" from anti-racist books.
Waterstones’ chart is currently topped by Eddo-Lodge and Evaristo, with Layla F Saad’s Me and White Supremacy, Akala’s Natives and Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility taking the Top 5. The petition which as been made public has received more than 5,000 signatures.
While Waterstones called it an "excellent idea", it said that because all of its shops have been closed since 23 March, and the great majority of its staff remain on furlough, "with the best will in the world, we are not in a position to make a charitable donation at present, however much we would like to do so".
Author Eddo-Lodge has previously asked readers buying her book, to match the price they paid with a donation to the Minnesota Freedom Fund. "This book financially transformed my life and I really don’t like the idea of personally profiting every time a video of a black person’s death goes viral," she said.