About the project
Grassroutes supports the efforts of independent publishers and literature development agencies to inspire public engagement with the diverse writing cultures of multi-racial Britain.
The international readerships enjoyed by London-based writers such as Monica Ali, Hanif Kureishi and Andrea Levy indicate the capital’s status as the nucleus of British writing by BME authors. The Grassroutes project does not aim to contest this status. Rather it signals a practical response to the corresponding struggle of regional BME writers to gain access to wide readerships (Fowler 2008: 75).
Research by Krishnaswarmy (1995), Pearce (2010) and Procter (2003; 2009) makes a compelling case for adopting a ‘devolved’ focus on literature that is both regional and transcultural. Reports, such as Free Verse (Keane, 2006) and In Full Colour (Clee, 2004), offer further evidence of the need for increasing public knowledge of, and engagement with, such writing. Major research projects, such as Devolving Diasporas (2007-2010) and Moving Manchester (2006-2009), have so far helped to map a non-commercial ‘devolved’ literary landscape by showcasing quality work by writers from Central Scotland and Manchester.
Dr Fowler’s own work has centred on the dominant commercial and cultural logic by which novels by writers outside London tend to be considered as unworthy of national and international readerships by corporate publishers and high street retail outlets. Grassroutes aims to redress such imbalances.
Leicester will shortly become the first city in Britain with a white minority. This makes it all the more imperative that Leicestershire’s literary cultures feature prominently in the current national effort to map and promote a devolved literary landscape. The Grassroutes e-catalogue will act as an informational resource and promotional device to complement the Grassroutes Writers’ Gallery and exhibition, which are designed to enhance public appreciation of the scope, quality and diversity of Leicestershire’s writing since 1980.