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Writers' collective will support 'lost stories' and challenge the establishment, says Afsana Press

Indie publishing house, Afsana Press, is to launch a writers' collective with the aim of finding lost stories and challenging the establishment, while bringing authors together in what the publisher calls an 'increasingly commercial book market'.

Afsana Press hopes to discover lost literary voices and stories, while offering authors the chance to support, encourage and inspire each other.

Publisher Goran Baba Ali, said: "From the master sculptors of ancient Greece who worked together to establish marble workshops in the quarries of Milos, to the rebel painters of the French revolution, to the Bloomsbury group of the early 20th century who so radically shook up the stuffy restrictions of the Victorian establishment, artists and writers through the centuries have come together to push against the boundaries and restrictions of popular culture. Together, artists have formed powerful movements that challenge the institution at large, sharing social, political and aesthetic ideologies, and exploring radical new alternatives to mainstream art and culture."

According to Baba Ali, there has never been a better time for authors to form a collective.

"The publishing market is shifting more and more towards the commercial," he said, "with agents and publishers focused on easy-to-market stories that follow certain trends, prioritising stories by established, bestselling authors, seeking books that sell simply because of who the author is, or the size of their social media following, and curating the market with a zeal that borders on censorship."

"Sadly, all this is very much at the cost of writers’ freedom and artistic potential," added Baba Ali. "As the novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie points out, literature is in peril. Adichie points out that our cultures are composed of many overlapping stories, and yet, agents and publishers seek a single story, and risk censoring many others. Extraordinary stories are falling through the net. Voices are being lost. Artists are being silenced."

It is in this context that Afsana Press will seek to lift authors up and elevate their work, by publishing their books with the same quality and standards as the book production industry, but in smaller quantities. Afsana's aim, says Goran, is to prioritise beautiful, meaningful writing, showcasing wonderful stories via bookstores, online retailers, festivals and events.

"We will actively seek out amazing fiction that has not, for whatever reason, made it via the conventional, mainstream publishing market, despite their undoubted quality. We will provide a way for those stories to touch the hearts and minds of readers who would otherwise miss out on them."

Afsana Press will this year launch Whispering Walls, by Choman Hardi, and Past Participle, by Jane Labous, in addition to existing titles, The Glass Wall by Goran Baba Ali, and Inner Core, by Miki Lentin.

Meanwhile, as a collective, Afsana Press will support authors to further polish their work and present it to their peers. With this in mind, the publishing house is seeking ways to profile authors’ literary work and take steps towards publishing it, from organising authors’ meet-ups and events, to supporting authors throughout the process of preparing their manuscript for publication.

Becoming a member of the Afsana Press collective is free of charge, though members should be willing to play a role in the collective, by providing support, advice and help to other writers along the way. Afsana Press will seriously consider the work of members, though being a member of the collective does not guarantee your work will be published by Afsana Press.

"Art is a lonely pursuit: we know this only too well," concluded Baba Ali. "But together, we hold power in our words, in our ideas, in our consummate ability to question the status quo. As the Japanese writer, Ryunosuke Satoro, once said: ‘Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.’"

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I'm lucky enough to meet Jane Labous in person on Sunday 3rd September a few days ago at a park event organised by Senegalese backgrounds and receive an autograph from her. Even my daughter was shocked and at the same time surprised in a positive way. At least I agree with Kadijaa in one good thing haha!

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