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Book news you need to know – from the rise of queer African literature to the PEN America controversy

Publication: Migrant Women Press

Stay ahead in the world of literature and publishing with unique insights from Scottish Beacon Partner, Migrant Women Press' literature editor, Laura Rodríguez-Davis.

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Stay Ahead In The World Of Literature And Publishing With Insights From Our Literature Editor.

Migrant Women Press

A warm hello to our MWP bookworms and word nerds! On behalf of the MWP team, I am delighted to re-introduce our new Literature Section as part of our official rebrand launch. Here, we’ll be featuring all things book-ish, including book reviews, literature pro-tips, and news from the publishing world. Without further adieu, let’s jump into some of this month’s latest headlines important for migrant women.

New Booksellers are Championing Diversity and Inclusivity

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

The next generation of booksellers in the US are keeping diversity and inclusivity at the forefront of their enterprises. Filling their shelves with authors from diverse backgrounds, these young proprietors intentionally seek out marginalised and underrepresented voices to be featured in their stores as a means of carrying out their progressive values. In the process, they build communities with local authors, fellow book lovers, and other socially-conscious organisations. According to Diana Dominguez, founder of feminist, intersectional bookstore Más Libritos, “The need is there for more BIPOC bookstore owners and booksellers.”

Source: Publishers Weekly

PEN America Cancels Awards Ceremony Following Nominee Withdraws Over Gaza

Photo by Robin Edqvist on Unsplash

The annual PEN America Literary Awards, scheduled for 29 April, has been cancelled after nearly half of the contenders withdrew their works from nomination. In an open letter, the objectors cited PEN America’s lack of response to the crisis in Gaza as the impetus behind their withdrawal. The letter contends that PEN America’s call for a ceasefire in March of this year was too late and not enough. It also demands the resignation of CEO Suzanne Nossel, whom signatories claim has shown evidence of Zionism and Islamophobia. Those who did not withdraw will still receive their awards. 

Source: NPR

Queer African Literature Is On The Rise

Photo by Tanushree Rao on Unsplash

Across Africa, books featuring the narratives of LGBTQ are taking the literary scene by storm. From graphic novels to sci-fi to nonfiction, African queer stories are gaining attention and winning awards. African authors use their works to explore and celebrate the complexities of queerness, particularly as they intersect with their cultural and ethnic identities. This growing movement challenges Western dominance on queer identity, serves as a force of resistance against African homophobia and anti-gay legislation, and imagines new possibilities of queer acceptance, as writer Chinelo Okparanta does in her 2015 novel Under the Udala Trees

Source: The New York Times

Fiction Author Freydís Moon Accused of ‘Racefaking’

Photo by Nellie Adamyan on Unsplash

Queer fantasy and paranormal romance novelist Freydis Moon, who self-identifies as Latinx, is facing accusations of lying about their racial identity from the online book community. Internet sleuths pieced together some discrepancies in Moon’s biography and notable manuscript similarities to that of Jupiter Wyse’s, an alias of disgraced author Taylor B. Barton who is white and was ousted for racial bullying. Moon continues to deny the allegations and has set their social media profiles to private.

Source: Lit Hub

Actress Viola Davis and Husband Launch Inclusive Publishing Company

Photo by Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash 

Partnering with publisher Lavaille Lavette, American actress Viola Davis and her husband Julius Tennon are starting their own independent publishing company, JVL Media. The couple aim to uplift under-represented voices in the book publishing industry. Some of the featured books include Had to Lose to Win: The Tiki Davis Story by Tiki Davis and The Inclusion Leader Genius’  by Dr. Johné Battle. In a public statement, Davis shared, “Our mission is to interlace a rich mosaic of both fiction and non-fiction that not only stirs the imagination but also venerates the enduring heritage of storytellers from diverse walks of life.” JVL Media will expand to include children’s books and YA novels in autumn 2025.

Source: Essence and Hollywood Reporter

That’s it for now, but stay tuned for more to come from the MWP Literature Section. Don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly newsletter to stay on top of our latest recommendations. And if you’re interested in writing a book review to be featured in our literature section, get in touch with us! We’d love to hear from you. 

Laura Rodríguez-Davis is a writer based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She is the Migrant Women Press Literature Editor.