A Meeting of the Continents: The International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books 1982-95 Revisited

A Meeting of the Continents: The International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books 1982-95 - Revisited

Edited by Sarah White, Roxy Harris and Sharmilla Beezmohun (2005). Published by New Beacon Books with the kind assistance of the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust

From 1982 to 1995 there existed a unique ‘meeting of the continents’ — the International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books. Held in the UK, at first in London and then also in other parts of the country, the Book Fair brought together people from across the globe to participate in debates, forums, readings, musical events, films, plays and other cultural productions as well as to browse through stalls from a multiplicity of publishers. Completely self-financing, the Book Fair relied on people paying for their own travel and staying in the homes of Book Fair organisers. Volunteers worked through the year to help to put together and publicise events. The twelve Book Fairs and Book Fair Festivals celebrated enormous cultural and political achievements, addressing the key issues of the times, with leading writers and artists participating in cultural events. These mirrored the achievements of black people in the outside world and, by the end of the Book Fair in 1995, there had been a visible transformation in British society.

Now the George Padmore Institute has published in full the twelve brochures accompanying the Book Fairs. A Meeting of the Continents: The International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books 1982-1995 – Revisited also includes:

  • The Origins of the Book Fair
  • The Organisation of the Book Fair
  • The Role of Founder John La Rose
  • The Ending of the Book Fair
  • Memoirs from people from all over the world who participated in the Book Fairs
  • A comprehensive index of people, publishers and organisations who took part in the Book Fairs

A Meeting of the Continents is a snapshot of key years in the development of the black population of Britain, a chronicle of a period of tremendous change across the world. Since the end of the Book Fair there have been even more global economic, political, cultural and social transformations. Nevertheless, the challenges of obtaining equality and social justice for all still remain. The Book Fair tradition, advocating non-sectarian radical and revolutionary discussion and action in the direction of socialism and mass democracy is, then, more relevant than ever. As a unique record of this tradition, A Meeting of the Continents will allow future generations to build on the foundations laid down by the International Book Fair of Radical Black and Third World Books.

'The documents collected together in the current volume represent an archival treasure ... The volume represents an effervescent cultural and political history of a key moment, or conjuncture, of our recent history' - Bill Schwarz, Wasafiri Magazine

A Meeting of the Continents is available from New Beacon Books. Price £35. ISBN: 9781873201183.