Are black authors only taken seriously when they write about race?

Guest editor Lenny Henry brings us stories of black Britons who have broken through racial barriers to become pioneers in their field of work.

One of the questions he's been asking is where is the black literary canon? He's concerned that a lot black literature is limited by the prism of experiences based on race.

Editor Ellah Allfrey told the Today programme: "Publishing is a business and so things that are easily marketable and easily categorised are the ones that are going to get the attention first."

"When you have editors who are coming from different experiences ...those categories become wider."

Novelist Courttia Newland added: "I'd really like to see more black agents, more black literary editors. From a writing position I think writers are desperately doing that work."

"Policing black writing is a dangerous thing to do ...we should be able to explore whatever topics we want to."

Crime writer Dreda Say Mitchell said: "I really object to people talking about me consistently ...as a black writer. I am a novelist first and foremost, a crime writer second."

First broadcast Today programme 30 December 2014.

Release date:

Duration:

10 minutes

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