The WritersMosaic is an online platform from The Royal Literary Fund.
The Royal Literary Fund is launching WritersMosaic – a new online platform showcasing original writing from a wide range of literary voices and cultures across the UK. The platform will profile both new and established writers from Abir Mukherjee, Derek Owusu, Inua Ellams, Kiran Millwood-Hargrave, and Paul Mendez to Alex Wheatle, TS Eliot prize-winner Roger Robinson, Salena Godden, and many, many more.
To date over 100 writers have already been commissioned and will be featured through a powerful series of authored talks, new writing, writer-to-writer conversations, creative exchanges, and audio interviews, centred around recurring themes including belonging and place, heritage and the past, the natural world, ideas, and inspiration.
“We are passionate about showing a whole diverse range of writers, and showing the diversity within that diversity”, says writer and member of the WritersMosaic editorial team, Jonny Wright. “We came up with WritersMosaic before the tragic events of George Floyd… and we are really passionate about showing a whole bunch of different writers from different backgrounds and showcasing them as writers.”
The site will launch with essays and insights from Linda Brogan, Vaseem Khan, and Patricia Cumper, with new writers added and profiled every two weeks. From Linda’s powerful essay on her first journey from Manchester to Jamaica to Roopa Farooki’s chat on the sofa with Alex Wheatle, whose life story was recently the subject of director Steve McQueen’s BBC Small Axe film, these informal, multi-voiced, writer-to-writer recordings offer a rare and intimate insight into the lives of writers, what moves them, what matters to them, and what inspires them to put pen to paper.
“In 1973 when I was 14 my dad sent me to Jamaica. It was £99. My Irish mum, Jamaican dad, brother, and three sisters came with me to Manchester airport. I had a sign around my neck so the air stewardesses would know who I am. They sat me at the back of the plane to keep an eye on me. As we crossed the ocean I began to cry. It got worse when the sky was engulfed in a fiery red sunset.” Linda Brogan writing on the Past, Present, and Future.
The site will also provide new insights on existing work; “the real story is unfinished, still unfolding”, writes WritersMosaic editor, Roopa Farooki in her review of Steve McQueen’s Alex Wheatle film. “My hope is that McQueen’s film will encourage viewers to seek out Alex Wheatle’s own words, and renew interest in his early books, which explore passion, family, brotherhood, tragedy, and the truth that sometimes there will not be happy endings. For Black British men and women, the story with a neat, happy ending is as yet unfinished.”
Each carefully curated writer profile is complemented with images and illustrations, commissioned by an editorial team of Royal Literary Fund Fellows who, as writers themselves, bring their own blend of curiosity, excitement, and deep cultural and critical engagement. The team, Bashabi Fraser, Colin Grant (Director), Gabriel Gbadamosi (Founding Editor), John Siddique, Jonny Wright, Michael McMillan, Roopa Farooki, Sanjida O’Connell, and Trish Cooke, work closely with each of their commissioned writers, to develop WritersMosaic as an independent, inclusive, and ever-evolving presence in the UK landscape of contemporary writing.
“One of the things that we are going to be very strict about at WritersMosaic is that we are a peer-to-peer platform; we are out there pushing out other writers so they get better known and have platforms for themselves beyond WritersMosaic and to this end we will be adhering to a certain editorial standard”, says celebrated author, historian and Director of WritersMosaic, Colin Grant.
The platform will also host guest editions from leading publishers, writers, editors, thinkers and artists who reflect on their own thematic interests and insights across genres of literature and introduce new developments. The first will be Sharmilla Beezmohun whose theme Race in the Time of Childhood features insights from Bobby Nayyar, Fergal Harte, Jay Bernard, Louisa Adjoa Parker, Maame Blue, Peter Kalu, Sarwat Chadda, and Selina Nwulu. “Growing up in north-west London in the 1970s,” says Sharmilla, “we learned to have a radar for racism, keeping our heads down, crossing the road, sticking together to avoid trouble.”
“These new author profiles alongside themed guest editions will give audiences a unique and in-depth insight into the lives and writing practices of contemporary writers who reflect the UK’s widening literary culture,” continues Colin.
Booker Prize winning author, Bernardine Evaristo says of WritersMosaic; “It is a really important initiative; we need to have an organisation which has an overview of what is happening, an aesthetic overview, so it’s not just about numbers, it’s not just about who’s getting published and so on. It’s about what are these books communicating about who we are and can be in this society, and we haven’t had that before.”
“I am very interested in the fact, and I have written about it very recently, that because people don’t have a depth of understanding about Black British literature, or rather a depth of knowledge about Black British literature, everything’s taken on face value. So writers come along and to a certain extent sometimes do reinvent the wheel and everybody buys the story that their spinning because nobody knows that 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, 40 years ago, there were writers, Black British writers, doing this, but they have. As you know, I have brought some writers back through Black Britain: Writing Back, but we need to know that we have a literary heritage, we need to acknowledge that heritage and we need to be able to contextualise the body of work that has been published and that is being published within a broader understanding of who we are in this society, and that doesn’t happen. WritersMosaic can do that.”
The expanding WritersMosaic community:
Ade Solanke . Alex Wheatle . Amaal Said . Andi Osho . Anjum Malik . Archie Maddocks . Arjunan Anthony Manuelpillai . Bashabi Fraser . Ben Kuffuor . Bibi Bakare-Yusuf . Billy Kahora . Bobby Nayyar . Brian Chikwava . Carol Leeming . Charlotte Bailey . Charlotte Williams . Chika Unigwe . Chloe Aridjis . Colin Grant . Conrad Murray . Courttia Newland . Debjani Chatterjee . Delia Jarrett-Macauley . Denise Noble . Derek Owusu . Diana Evans . Dipo Agboluaje . Djofray Makumbu . Donna Moore . Edson Burton . Eleanor Margolies . Ellah Wakatama Allfrey . Eric Ngalle Charles . Fergal Harte . Fraser Ayres . Gabriel Gbadamosi . Gary Stewart . Geoffrey Philp . Gillian Slovo . H Patten . Hannah Lowe . Henrietta Rose-Innes . Ingrid Persaud . Inua Ellams . Irenosen Okojie . Jacob Ross . Jane Bryce . Janette Parris . Jay Bernard . Jay G Ying . Jeffrey Boakye . Joanna Pocock . John Bay-Axworthy . John Siddique . Johny Pitts . Jonny Wright . June Reid . Jyrah Moore . Kamila Shamsie . Katy Massey . Kerry Young . Kiran Millwood Hargrave . Leah Chillery . Lealle Bissessar . Linda Brogan . Lisa Palmer . Louis Chude-Sokei . Louisa Adjoa Parker . Louise Doughty . Lucy Hannah . Lynda Rosenior-Patten . Maame Blue . Mahsuda Snaith . Malika Booker . Margaret Busby . Mary Yacoob . Meena Kandasamy . Micah Yongo . Michael McMillan . Mikael Calandra Achode . Mirza Waheed . Mitch Albert . Monique Roffey . Muhammad Khan . Nadifa Mohamed . Nalini Paul . Namita Gokhale . Nathan Bryon . Nick Makoha . Nicole Lecky . Nikesh Shukla . Nina Mingya Powles . Niven Govinden . Olumide Popoola . Onjali Rauf . Oyinkan Braithwaite . Patrice Lawrence . Patricia Cumper . Paul Mendez . Pema Monaghan . Peter Kalu . Philip Nanton . Rikki Beadle-Blair . Roger Robinson . Roma Tearne . Romesh Gunesekera . Roopa Farooki . Roy Williams . Rudy Loewe . S I Martin . Salena Godden . Sanjida O’Connell . Sarwat Chadda . Sea Sharp . Selina Nwulu . Shahrukh Husain . Shamshad Khan . Shangomola Edunjobi . Sharmilla Beezmohun . Sita Brahmachari . Sofia Niazi . Sonia Boyce . Stephanie Seddon . Suhayl Saad . Sunny Singh . Tariq Latif . Testament . Tolula Dada . Trevor Mathison . Trish Cooke . Umi Sinha . Valerie Bloom . Will Harris . Yassmin Foster . Yogesh Patel . Zanib Mian . Zena Edwards