For Tanya Batson-Savage, Publisher, Editor in Chief at Blue Banyan Books and Blouse & Skirt Books, publishing means bringing stories as diverse as mangoes.
A new article in partnership with PublisHer, an industry-led movement to bring gender equality to the publishing world founded in 2019 by Bodour Al Qasimi.
Stories Like Mangoes: Diversity from A Caribbean Perspective
We have neither summer nor winter
Neither autumn nor spring.
We have instead the days
When the gold sun shines on the lush green cane fields, magnificently.
But best of all are the days when the mango and logwood blossom…
Books are portals to the world. Each one brings brand new experiences, even when the world it's showcasing is your own. But coming from the Caribbean, with the exception of those books I read in school, most of the time the world I encountered in books neither looked, felt nor moved like mine. And this is why I became a publisher.
When we speak of diversity, we often leave the conversation at the reflection of character, or the writer. Yet the world that populates stories, and by extension, our imagination, matters too.
The H.D. Carberry poem ‘Nature’, which frames this post, describes seasons the Caribbean - not a changing of temperatures, but instead marked by the ripening of fruits and or the blooming of trees. So, rather than four seasons we have many, and mango season is the best of all.
There is absolutely no scientific data to back this up, but I think that one of the reasons Caribbean people love mangoes so much is that there are so many types to love. And for me, stories are like mangoes - different mangoes appeal to different people, but most importantly many people love different kinds of mangoes.
And you can’t really love mangoes without understanding that difference is a wonderful thing - understanding that just because two things, look, feel, smell and taste different doesn’t mean they do not have much in common.
At Blue Banyan Books we want to bring stories as diverse as mangoes. Whether, through our fantasy fiction, historical dramas or even our picture books, we are driven by the need to ensure that shelves can showcase worlds where seasons are marked not just by the falling of snow or the birth of new leaves, but also the blooming of once green trees and the ripening of fruits.
We publish because everyone deserves to understand the joy that comes from that first sweet bite of sunshine made solid - a mango. Incidentally, we have not yet published a book about mangoes, but one day we will.
Tanya Batson-Savage is publisher and editor in chief of the award-winning independent publishing house, Blue Banyan Books and its imprint Blouse & Skirt Books - the fastest growing tradebook publisher in the English-speaking Caribbean. She is a writer, filmmaker, publisher and creative consultant, with a love of mangoes.
She has written a collection for children Pumpkin Belly and Other Stories, produced the animated short film Agwe (2018) and written a critically acclaimed play - Woman Tongue.
PublisHer is a forum for professional women to discuss publishing industry issues, learn from each other and seek scalable solutions to the gender imbalances that still characterise the upper echelons of publishing around the world. It was founded in 2019 by Bodour Al Qasimi, Founder and CEO of UAE-based Kalimat Group, and President of the International Publishers Association (IPA).