Jacaranda's much anticipated #TwentyIn2020 publishing programme for Black British writing kicked off this month with the publication of Through the Leopard's Gaze by award-winning comedian Njambi McGrath.
Described as "beautifully written” by Clive Anderson on BBC Radio 4's Loose Ends, McGrath's memoir is a powerful reflection of personal and family trauma, while exploring Britain's brutal and bloody colonial rule in Kenya. It is an examination of human cruelty and strength in equal measure.
A launch to celebrate this first release took place last night at the Commonwealth Foundation, Marlborough House. Jacaranda's founder and publisher Valerie Brandes gave an impassioned speech about the importance of the Twenty In 2020 programme and the role it plays in giving a voice to the brilliant Black British writers on the list and inspiring many more. Speaking on the reasoning behind Twenty in 2020 she told the audience that the Jacaranda team observed the huge number of talented writers of colour were being ignored, and expressed that there had never been any doubt that #TwentyIn2020 would be a fantastic project.
True to her nature as a talented comedian, Njambi McGrath evoked laughter from the audience as she spoke of the difficulties of finding the right publisher for her work. She thanked Valerie Brandes and the Jacaranda team for believing in her work and in the importance of her voice and her story. The audience was then treated to a reading by Njambi of her memoir.
Jacaranda's non-fiction editor Magdalene Abraha said "Reading and editing Njambi’s book was truly a pleasure. Her story is so unique and equally so empowering. Among the many things within her book, I was particularly moved by Njambi’s journey when exploring some of the harder moments in her life and her ability to contextualise her experiences. In doing so she powerfully provides a crucial and often painful reflection on issues of colonialism, familial disentegration, love, hope and resilience. Her story at times saddens the heart but equally also inspires the soul. Njambi has written a truly phenomenal book and it was honour to have had the chance to work with her on it."
Through the Leopard's Gaze is the first of twenty titles to be published under Twenty In 2020 this year. With works across fiction, non-fiction and poetry, the list of writers includes Katy Massey, Sareeta Domingo, Abidemi Sanusi, Tolu Agbelusi, Tony Warner of Black History Walks and more. The other nineteen books are being released across the year with all titles available by October 2020 for Black History Month.
Njambi McGrath will next be appearing at Words Weekend Festival in Salford on March 27th where team Jacaranda will have a TwentyIn2020 showcase and events with Valerie Brandes and author Berni Sorga-Millwood.
Follow @jacarandabooks or hashtag #TwentyIn2020 for more news.