Wed | Nov 20, 2019

Local publishing house continues to make waves

Published:Sunday | October 27, 2019 | 12:21 AM

Local publisher Ian Randle Publishers (IRP) continues to make waves with a steady stream of new books that belies predictions of the death of the printed book as the publishing company commemorates 30 years of scholarly and general publishing in 2020.

Fresh from the release of two contrasting political memoirs, Dr Christopher Tufton’s State of Mind and Glynne Manley’s taped conversations with her late husband, Michael, entitled Truth Be Told, the company is breaking new ground with yet another memoir.

Another Mother, a new work by Ross Kenneth Urken, was launched in Long Island City, New York, on National Heroes Day, October 21.

The date of the release of this book was especially significant as it honours the memory of the writer’s Jamaican nanny, Dezna Sanderson, who was in large part responsible for the man he has become and who gave him his love for language and writing and his Jamaican accent.

Advance reviews of the book have been effusive; blogger Emma Lewis sees the work as “ultimately an expression of love”, while Kirkus Review describes it as “a memorable heartfelt memoir and fond commemoration formed in Caribbean history, familial turmoil and unconditional maternal love”.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in his endorsement, makes reference to its main theme – that of the Jamaican women who left the country in the 1970s and 1980s and who took on unthinkable challenges to provide for their families ‘back a Yard’. He observes that many worked as nannies in the (US), a history that is well known but little explored and says of the book: In Another Mother, Urken poetically unpacks the legacy that his nanny Dezna Sanderson left on his life.”

Urken who writes for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Paris Review, among others, said his choice of a Jamaican publisher was influenced by his desire to ensure the authenticity of the work.

Automatic choice

Ian Randle Publishers was his automatic choice because of the company’s reputation internationally as a publisher with high-quality editorial standards. Christine Randle, IRP’s managing director and publisher, describes Urken as the ‘dream author’ – responsive to editorial suggestions for improvement, strictly adherent to deadlines, and, most important, vigorous in the marketing and promotion of his own work.

Randle said that her company will cap off the year with an equally big bang when it releases Orlando Patterson’s new book on Jamaica in a month’s time, his first since 1973.

In this new book, titled The Confounding Island: Jamaica and the Postcolonial Predicament, Patterson investigates in this new book the failures of Jamaica’s postcolonial democracy, explaining why the country has been unable to achieve broad economic growth and why its free elections and stable governments have been unable to address violence and poverty.

As Patterson never one to shy away from controversy, his long-awaited work is likely to add fuel to the current debate and analysis of Jamaica’s anaemic economic growth and the incipient violence in the society.

Patterson is being invited to launch the book in Jamaica by the Department of Sociology at The University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, of which he was a faculty member in the 1960s before taking up a professorship at Harvard University.

Plans are now under way by the department to host a public lecture by Patterson, at which he will speak to the thesis of his book and collaborate with the publishers to have its official launch.

Randle sees this as something of a coup for her company in brokering a co-edition deal with Harvard University Press, which is the originating publishers of the hardback edition in the US, given that this is a rare move by the prestigious university press and attests to the strong reputation IRP enjoys as a scholarly publisher.

Who is Orlando Patterson?

Patterson is the John Cowles professor of sociology at Harvard University and is regarded as one of the academy’s ‘big thinkers’. He is the author of three novels, The Children of Sisyphus (1964), the first work of fiction to focus on the Rastafari living in what was then the ‘Dungle’ of West Kingston before it was bulldozed to create Tivoli Gardens; An Absence of Ruins (1967); and Die the Long Day (1972), all set in Jamaica.

However, it was his converted doctoral thesis from LSE published as The Sociology of Slavery in 1967, which his reputation as a cultural sociologist was established. His magisterial work ‘Slavery and Social Death’, published in 1982, recognised as the first full-scale comparative study of Slavery, brought him international recognition, and this was capped by the US National Book Award for Nonfiction in 1992 for Freedom in the Making of Western Culture. Patterson has earned a national presence in the US as a public intellectual, noted for his op-ed essays in organs like The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time and Newsweek magazines along with his appearance on PBS News Hour and Hardball with Chris Matthews on MSNBC.

Patterson, who hails originally from Westmoreland, is an old boy of Kingston College and an alumnus of The UWI. He was awarded Order of Distinction in 1999.

Editor’s note: ‘Making Waves’ is the actual title of an IRP 2018 book with the subtitle ‘How the West Indies Shaped the United States’. It details the contribution of people like Marcus Garvey, Bob Marley, Alexander Hamilton, etc, to making the US what it is today.