Ayesha Haruna Attah’s The Hundred Wells of Salaga was published by Cassava Republic in 2018. Photo credit: The Book Banque.

UK-based Nigerian publishing company Cassava Republic has been shortlisted for the British Book Awards’ inaugural Small Press of the Year recognition. The award, sponsored by CPI Group, was “launched to celebrate the innovative and nimble publishers making names for themselves outside the mainstream.” Among the 41 presses shortlisted across the award’s nine regional and country categories are the London-based Jacaranda Books, Latin American literature publisher Charco Press, travel publisher Wild Things, and poetry press Carcanet.

“The first year of this new award has proved to be an eye-opener, with an incredibly strong list of more than 50 submissions, from which the regional and country shortlists have been selected,” said Philip Jones, chair of the judges and editor of The Bookseller. “Small and perfectly formed, these publishers show a sector that is diverse, imaginative and thriving. It is a delight to learn more about their businesses, and to showcase them as part of this award.”

Started in 2006, Cassava Republic has published groundbreaking nonfiction books: Yemisi Aribisala’s memoir Longthroat Memoirs: Soups, Sex And Nigerian Taste Buds (2016), which became the first African book to win the John Avery Award for food writing; the Ellah Wakatama Allfrey-edited Safe House: Explorations in Creative Nonfiction (2016), a reference point for creative nonfiction on the continent; She Called Me Woman: Nigeria’s Queer Women Speak (2018), co-edited by Azeenarh Mohammed, Chitra Nagarajan, and Rafeeat Aliyu; and Emmanuel Iduma’s A Stranger’s Pose, a mix of memoir, travelogue, and photography that reinveints African travel writing.

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Among their fiction books are Doreen Baingana’s Commonwealth Prize-winning story collection Tropical Fish: Tales from Entebbe (2008), Teju Cole’s novella Every Day Is for the Thief (2007), Helon Habila’s novel Measuring Time (2007), Manyika’s Goldsmiths Prize-shortlisted second novel Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun (2016), Sade Adeniran’s Commonwealth Prize-winning Imagine This (2011), Lola Shoneyin’s Orange Prize-longlisted The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives (2010), Nnedi Okorafor’s novella What Sunny Saw in the Flames (2013), Elnathan John’s NLNG Prize-shortlisted novel Born on a Tuesday (2015), Petina Gappah’s Baileys Prize-longlisted The Book of Memory (2015), Leye Adenle’s crime novel Easy Motion Tourist (2016) and When Trouble Sleeps (2018), Olumide Popoola’s novel When We Speak of Nothing (2017), and Ayesha Haruna Attah’s slave trade era novel The Hundred Wells of Salaga (2018).

In April 2018, at the London Book Fair’s International Excellence Awards, Cassava Republic was recognized with the Inclusivity in Publishing Award. In December, its co-founder and director Bibi Bakare-Yusuf was named Brittle Paper‘s 2018 African Literary Person of the Year.

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Here are the full regional and country shortlists:

South-East

  • b small publishing
  • Fine Feather Press
  • Globe Law and Business
  • SMH Books
  • September Publishing

Ireland

  • Little Island Books
  • The Lilliput Press
  • Wordwell

London

  • Cassava Republic
  • Daunt Books Publishing
  • Henningham Family Press
  • Jacaranda Books
  • Lantana Publishing
  • Saqi Books
  • The School of Life
  • Tiny Owl Publishing
  • Canbury Press

Midlands

  • Nine Arches Press
  • Staffordshire Press
  • Otter-Barry Books
  • Practical Action Publishing
  • Sweet Cherry Publishing

North

  • Bluemoose Books
  • Carcanet Press
  • Comma Press
  • Dead Ink
  • Smokestack Books

Scotland

  • 404 Ink
  • BHP Comics
  • Charco Press
  • Scotland Street Press
  • Speculative Books
  • The Lunicorn Press

South-West

  • Burning Eye Books
  • Handheld Press
  • Little Toller Books
  • Wild Things Publishing

East

  • Dedalus
  • Galley Beggar Press

Wales

  • Firefly Press
  • Parthian Books

The regional and country winners, and the overall Small Press of the Year winner, will be announced at the London Book Fair on 13 March. The overall winner will be shortlisted for the Independent Publisher of the Year Nibbie, whose winner will be announced at the British Book Awards on 13th May 2019.

Congratulations to Cassava Republic.