Black authors showcased in Canary Wharf short story 'vending machines'

Author Bernardine Evaristo and the 'Short Story' vending machine at Canary Wharf

Author Bernardine Evaristo and the short story vending machine at Canary Wharf - Credit: PA

Short stories by up-and-coming black authors will be available from "vending machines" in Canary Wharf throughout Black History Month (BHM).  

Booker Prize author and poet Bernardine Evaristo selected five authors to be included in the project, which aims to raise the profile of black writers during October.  

There is not a single black author currently represented in the top 50 bestselling books in the UK, Bernardine says.  

“They deserve a wider readership,” she said. “Great literature transcends all perceived boundaries and is for everyone. This is such an opportunity to shine the spotlight on black authors I admire.”  

Authors Nicola Williams, Bernardine Evaristo, Steven Martin and Irenosen Okojie at the 'short story' dispensing machine.

Authors Nicola Williams, Bernardine Evaristo, Steven Martin and Irenosen Okojie at the short story dispensing machine. - Credit: PA

Topics such as race, class, sexuality, freedom and religion across generations, time and cultures are taken up by the writers.

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The stories are extracts from Paul Mendez's Rainbow Milk, which is a coming-of-age tale following a 19-year-old grappling with his racial and sexual identities; Irenosen Okojie's Nudibranch, about a mysterious tailor who makes fantastic frocks for his customers; and Nicola Williams' Without Prejudice, a courtroom thriller following barrister Lee Mitchell uncovering the dark secrets of the obscenely rich.

Additionally, Judith Bryan's Bernard and the Cloth Monkey portrays guilt and unshakable bonds as a family's deepest secrets unravel and Steven Martin's Incomparable World follows the untold stories of black-American soldiers grappling with their post-war freedom. 

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An excerpt from Bernardine's new book Manifesto, released this week, will also be on offer.

The six stories each last one, three or five minutes.

Some stories are part of Bernardine's curated series with Penguin called Black Britain: Writing Back. 

Live readings from the authors are also being staged at Canary Wharf. 

The stories in the vending machines, which were installed in 2019 at Jubilee Place mall, Canada Place mall and Crossrail Place Roof Garden, are printed on recycled paper and accessible for the thousands of people visiting Canary Wharf every month. 

Other activities for Black History Month being staged at Canary Wharf include Born to Protest dance performances from Joseph Toonga’s Just Us Dance Theatre on Wednesday, October 13, and a photography exhibition exploring black culture in Britain running throughout October.  

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