These are Bristol24/7’s favourite books and spoken-word events of 2019:
In a scintillating 12 months, Bristol poet, Birdspeed, secured a remarkable triple crown of prestigious awards, with Bristol City Poet, Vanessa Kisuule, calling her “an unstoppable force”. Birdspeed triumphed at this year’s BBC Edinburgh Fringe Slam Championship at the Edinburgh Festival, Hammer & Tongue’s UK National Slam Championship, and BBC 1 Extra/BBC Asian Network’s Talent Search.
2. Nikesh Shukla
Highlights of another amazing year for the Bristol writer, editor and activist include: a second YA novel, The Boxer, which has been nominated for several awards; co-editing The Good Immigrant USA and Rife Stories essay collections; named one of Time magazine’s ‘12 Leaders Who Are Shaping the Next Generation of Artists’.
3. Lawrence Hoo, Cargo
Hoo’s new poetry collection, Cargo, is the first installment of the writer’s hugely ambitious multi-media project on the transatlantic slave trade, and a revelatory examination of Bristol history. The powerful collection really excels in its honouring of, and celebration of the hidden stories and achievements of those who battled enslavement and its centuries-long legacy of discrimination, racism and inequality. Look out for much more Cargo activity in 2020.
4. Storysmith Books
In their first full year, Emily and Dan Ross have shown what the best independent bookshops look like. Storysmith has it all: warm, friendly, open atmosphere; promoting and supporting Bristol writers, publishers, artists and businesses; meticulously selected stock; inspired recommendations; lively events programme; embracing and enhancing the community around them.
5. C.L. Taylor
A few of the many high points in the million-plus selling thriller writer’s brilliant 2019: new novel, Sleep, spent four weeks in the Sunday Times top ten, was selected for the Richard and Judy Autumn Book Club and won ‘Best ebook’ in the Capital Crime Amazon Publishing Readers’ Awards. Taylor’s previous novel, The Escape, won the Dead Good Books ‘Hidden Depths’ award.