#Merky Books: Five years on

Launched in 2018 by Stormzy and Penguin Random House, #Merky Books set out to change the mainstream publishing landscape. We look at the impact it has had so far

“I was sitting in the audience at the Barbican, taking in the demographic and the vibe of who the audience was … [and it] was people who looked like me, sounded like me, and probably had a similar lived experience to me,” remembers Lemara Lindsay-Prince, senior commissioning editor at #Merky Books. “There was something really special about the energy and knowing that all of those people could be in that space to celebrate literature and our greatest storytellers. It completely blew my mind.”

This was at the book launch of British ­rapper and songwriter Stormzy’s bio­graphy, Rise Up: The #Merky Story So Far, and the wider launch of the #Merky Books imprint back in 2018. Lindsay-Prince didn’t join the team until a year later, but the ­concept piqued her interest, and she knew that if an opportunity to work with them came up, she would take it.

Part of Penguin Random House, #Merky Books was set up initially to cater for “under­represented authors and voices”. “That kind of language gives me the ick now, because it ignores the fact that Black, Brown and Asian people are the global majority. What best encapsulates the publishing we do, and the voices we work with, is that they are intentional, inclusive and intersectional,” reflects the editor. “Now we’re realising those voices also have the power to own and change the mainstream in literature.”

Top and above: #Merky Books Literature Festival, 2023; Photos: Julian Amoako and Leon Lewis