Its quite simple really; better diversity means better books.
Innovation and Diversity
We believe that true diversity in literature can only be achieved through action. In 2017 we ran a writing workshop in the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut and commissioned nine Syrian and Palestinian Refugees to produce a piece of collaborative fiction. Shatila Stories was published in 2018 and was hailed by critics as a ‘resounding success,’ demonstrating that lack of formal education is not a bar to excellence.
Since then we have continued to demonstrate our proactive commitment to diversity. As of 2018, 60% of our writers and 70% of our translators are women and in 2019 we are only publishing women writers. In order to widen accessibility we have also established the Peirene Stevns Translation Prize. The prize is the first of its kind; only open to unpublished translators the winner will be given the opportunity to translate a full novel that will be published in 2020.
At Peirene we believe that literature has the power to open up conversations. In 2015 we started a new project, Peirene Now!, commissioning essential literature in response to political developments. Past titles have included breach, a novel by Olumide Popoola and Annie Holmes based on interviews conducted at the Calais refugee camp and The Cut by Anthony Cartwright, a response to the complex issue of Brexit. Our last Peirene Now! novel was Shatila Stories, a piece of collaborative fiction written by nine refugees in Shatila camp, Beirut.
We are the only independent press commissioning our own radical literature. These are the books we wanted to read – urgent, contemporary fiction – that we couldn’t find. Read more about Peirene Now! here.
50p of every book purchased from Peirene goes to charity. We are partnered with Basmeh & Zeitooneh, a charity working with refugees in camps across Lebanon and Turkey. But we have also supported Counterpoint Arts, a charity that works to enhance the cultural integration of refugees through the creative arts, and Maya Centre, an organisation that provides free psychodynamic counselling and group psychotherapy for women on low and no incomes in London.
Read more about our charity work here.