Dear publishing industry — we need more books about Black people in Asia
The kinds of books set only in the continent and written by Black authors who currently live or have lived there, and the kind of stories and experiences that touch on topics with a twist. You all keep advertising that you’re looking for the next book from an author of an underrepresented background, well here is a reading space that needs to be explored with a lot of raw talent from Black authors with books set in Asia.
Out of the 30 books within this category that I’ve researched only two have been traditionally published — those being Asha Lemmie’s Fifty Words for Rain (Penguin Random House US, 2020) and Marvin D. Sterling’s Babylon East (Duke University Press, 2010). The rest are self-published and can be found on Amazon but are still not widely distributed around the world.
Black voices in Asia are needed within the book community and the publishing industry purely for readers who have never been to the continent but have a big interest to change that and want to read from another Black person’s perspective who has lived out there for years with extensive knowledge of the country they reside in, regardless of the social spaces and certain cultural aspects aren’t for us. Autobiographies like Black in China, fantasy books like Adrienne, or even children’s stories like Johnny & Joshua Coming to Korea come to mind that touch on things like this.
I’m very surprised none of you have published a bait YA romcom story of a fan meeting their favourite idol in Asia or clubbing abroad where they meet someone and get the opportunity of a lifetime. Give the teens something exciting in their hands at least, even if it has undertones of fanfiction-esque to it. Because if E.L James can turn a Twilight fanfiction into a bestseller like Fifty Shades of Grey, why can’t other Black writers and authors do the same with AO3/AFF fanfiction?
In fiction, I want to read a mixture of everything. Hot summer romances, retellings of local tales in the fantasy genre or new worlds clouded in mystery where characters can start an adventure in. And with little to no heavy subject matters because we’ve read enough of that already.
Non-fiction matters too. I want books from Black people who have travelled and lived in Asia with…