From Islamic State to adult colouring–the year in booksby / December 26, 2015 / Leave a comment
In December, The Guardian asked writers and publishers to comment on cultural diversity—or rather the lack of it—in the literary world. Many contributors rightly pointed out that the industry is drawn from too small a pool of talent. But there was little recognition of how successful writers from minority backgrounds have been in 2015. As I wrote in Prospect in November, this has been the year of the migrant in literature. The Man Booker-shortlisted The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota is set in the grimy world of illegal migration in Sheffield. The Booker winner Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings is about gang violence in Jamaica in the 1970s. In his Guardian contribution, Akhil Sharma, the winner of this year’s Folio Prize for Family Life, said he thought he benefited from being an ethnic minority: “Because I am writing about a community that people are curious about, I have received a great deal of attention.”
In America, the black writer Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a surprise bestseller about racial injustice, Between the World and Me. This was also the year we learned that in her original version Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s Atticus Finch was not the saintly white saviour he became in To Kill a Mockingbird.
The world in a year
Books about ISIS
The new biography
Colouring books for adults
Perhaps the most bizarre trend in books this year has been for adult colouring books. We’re used to calming down children by giving them a set of pens and the outline of a tree to fill in. And if it works for children, why not for their frazzled parents? Art therapy is an established way of helping prisoners or those with mental health issues so perhaps it isn’t so strange after all. This Christmas, I imagine plenty of adults will be receiving Anti-Stress Colouring by Christina Rose or Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford. Instead of fiddling with their phones, they will be sitting at the cleared lunch table, pen or brush in hand, concentrating on bringing the dull outline of a scene to colourful life. What better way to cope with the holiday season?