For the fifteenth in the series looking at Independent Publishers, this week we head to Leeds and welcome Peepal Tree Press to the Independent Publishing Showcase.

It is has been a time of real celebration at Peepal Tree Press as they won the 2020 Costa Book of the Year award with award winning author author Monique Roffey and her book The Mermaid of Black Conch.

Peepal Tree press were founded in 1985 and aim to publish around 20 book a year. To-date they have gone on to publish over 300 books. In 2009 they launched the Caribbean Modern Classics Series that aims to keep essential books in print from the past.

With funding from the Arts Council since 2011, which helps them develop a writer’s development project.

They have a very exciting list of books and with many to come during 2021 these can be ordered by visiting their website with details below.

Keep an eye on their Twitter feed @or visit their website: Peepal Tree Press

A selection of books from the Peepal Tree Press website:

The Mermaid of Black Conch by Monique Roffey


Published: 2nd April 2020


April 1976: St Constance, a tiny Caribbean village on the island of Black Conch, at the start of the rainy season. A fisherman sings to himself in his pirogue, waiting for a catch – but attracts a sea-dweller he doesn’t expect. Aycayia, a beautiful young woman cursed by jealous wives to live as a mermaid, has been swimming the Caribbean Sea for centuries. And she is entranced by this man David and his song.

But her fascination is her undoing. She hears his boat’s engine again and follows it, and finds herself at the mercy of American tourists, landed on the island for the annual fishing competition. After a fearsome battle, she is pulled out of the sea and strung up on the dock as a trophy. It is David who rescues her, and gently wins her trust – as slowly, painfully, she starts to transform into a woman again. But transformations are not always permanent, and jealousy, like love, can have the force of a hurricane, and last much longer.

Green Unpleasant Land by Corinne Fowler

Published: 17th December 2020


Green Unpleasant Land explores the countryside’s repressed colonial past and demonstrates its importance as a source of ideas about Englishness.

The book presents historical evidence to show that rural England was a place of conflict and global expansion. It also examines four centuries of literary response to explore how race, class and gender have both created and deconstructed England’s pastoral mythologies. In particular, the book argues that Black and British Asian writers have challenged narrow, nostalgic views of rural England but also expressed attachment to English landscapes and the natural world.

The book questions the countryside’s reputation as a retreat from urban life. It interrogates the idea that country houses are models for civilised living or that moorlands are places of freedom. It presents new perspectives on the “English” flora and fauna that feature in literature, parks, allotments and suburban gardens. The book reconsiders a range of rural locations through the lens of British colonial involvement, including East India Company activity and the slavery business. The book connects England’s outward-reaching histories to what was happening in the countryside: the enclosure of common land, the beginnings of industrial mass farming and the reshaping of landownership through imperial profits. In bringing together histories usually separated by the Atlantic, Green Unpleasant Land makes connections, for instance, between the rebellion of enslaved people for their freedom in Jamaica in 1831, and the struggles of English agricultural workers in the Captain Swing uprising of the same year.

Stranger at the Gate by John Hearne

Release Date:   29th October 2020


The stranger is a revolutionary leader escaping from certain death in a Francophone Caribbean state that has suffered a counter-coup aided by the big state to the north. As a leading member of a small communist party in the imagined state of Cuyuna, Roy McKenzie, has the dangerous task of hiding the escaped Etienne and then getting him off the island to be picked up by a passing Polish ship. McKenzie, a lawyer, a light brown man of elite background, radicalised by his wartime experiences, has to acknowledge that his party’s roots among the black working class are very shallow, and that his only hope of helping Etienne is to turn to his friends among the very elite he is supposedly committed to destroy. When he involves his oldest friend, Carl Brandt, and the woman who becomes his lover, in his mission, he sets in train a sequence of events that test the boundaries of the personal and the political in the deepest and most tragic ways.

Set in a colonial Caribbean country in the post-war years, Stranger at the Gate has the narrative drive of a Hemingway novel, the ominous sense of fate of classical Greek tragedy, a sensuous appreciation of a landscape, domestic interiors and food that draws on Hearne’s own Jamaica, and an acute, if indulgent, portrayal of the white and light-brown landed and commercial elite.

Weighted Words Edited by Jacob Ross

Release Date: 18th March 2021


From the colonial idea of ‘British’ tea;  the demasculinising experience of infertility in a Jamaican family; a Black woman being both tourist and tourist attraction on her travels in  South Asia, and what it meant to be  ‘everybody’s midwife’ in an institutionally racist NHS, through to the experience of an Indian migrant child in the ‘country of ‘the oppressor’ — these are just a few of the themes explored in Weighted Words a new anthology by  Peepal Tree Press’ Readers and Writers Group.
The group comprises writers living in Leeds and West Yorkshire.  Through poetry, short stories, confessionals and memoirs, contributors interrogate race, gender, relationship with self and with family, as well as identity in contemporary Britain.

The Gift of Music and Song: Interview with Jamaican Women Writers by Jacqueline Bishop

Release Date: 28th January 2021


In this collection of interviews, Jacqueline Bishop is in conversation with eighteen female Jamaican writers, some of whom have emigrated from the island. This deeply intimate and personal encounter between the writer and artist, Bishop, and those she admires touches on the tensions, reflections and memories one has when writing about one’s birthplace.

Beginning at childhood, each interviewee narrates their fond memories of the Caribbean country with a nostalgia and yearning for a place that is complex and freighted with political, social and racial difficulties. The Gift of Music & Song is a space for these writers to talk deeply about writing back to their homeland; about being female voices from Jamaica, how one should represent the country, its rhythms and cadences, and what it means to be a female writer in the world today.

For further information on the publications from please visit their website: Peepal Tree Press

You can also find them on Twitter: @peepaltreepress and Facebook Page: @peepaltreepress also their Instagram feed @peepaltreepress

If you have enjoyed this week’s showcase, please look out for my next Independent Publishers Showcase next week. If you are an indie publisher and would like to add your name to the showcase, you can contact me via Twitter: @TheLastWord1962

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