It’s clear that the publishing world needs more diversity. Why do some see this as compromising quality?Let me tell you a story. A few years ago, months after this riven old island voted to leave the European Union, and days after an ex-reality TV host became the leader of the free world, a writer happened to win an award. In her speech she thanks this country which has been her home for half her life. She thanks it for valuing her book, for valuing her at this historic moment in time. And she means it. This validation means the world to her. It comes from a country, Scotland, that is not exactly hers but in which she has settled. In which she has produced a mixed-race baby and become a writer. Afterwards she is whisked away for photos, handshakes, congratulations, the heady stuff of success. Only the following day does she discover what else happened that night. Following her speech, the head of the organisation returned to the stage and made an off-the-cuff comment about this award really ticking “all the boxes”. It was nothing really, just a lighthearted joke, more at the expense of funders and their infuriating rules than the writer who happens to be Indian, English, bisexual, a woman, the daughter of first-generation immigrants.
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