Local and global – the Brixton Review of Books

Illustration of two people reading the Brixon Review of Books
BRB invites readers to send it images of themselves reading it

Brixton’s thriving literary scene has a new presence – the Brixton Review of Books. Grace Waters turns the pages

With an ethos of making literature and the creative arts accessible to everyone, the Brixton Review of Books is a (relatively) new presence in the South London community.

Founded by writer Michael Caines using a £3,000 grant from the Royal Society of Literature, the quarterly literary newspaper has been in circulation since the beginning of this year.

I met Alice Wadsworth, one of the editors behind this new literary movement.

Awarded the grant for showing an “intention to turn the usual tired give-aways into something that could provoke and expand an appreciation of literature in London”, the BRB champions the work of small and independent presses.

Copies are handed out for free by its contributors and can also be found at book shops, libraries and galleries across Brixton including Brixton Pound, Brixton Library and Bookmongers.

Entirely self-funded and running on the grant, advertisements and subscriptions that cost a tenner for a year, BRB is produced by a group of volunteers who are already involved in literature  – Michael Caines and a number of its editorial team write for The Times Literary Supplement.

They are determined to support as many local and independent voices as possible.

The focus is on books from small and independent presses, as well as works in translation.

Alice says: “We want to cater to as diverse an audience as possible, with a little something for everyone.”

The volunteers also want to encourage budding authors who are just starting out to submit works for their review – they are looking to champion local and perhaps under-represented voices in the community.

Tapping into the immense diversity of its potential audience, the BRB commissions reviews from an eclectic mix of voices with varying interests, featuring both established and not so established writers.

The team is passionate about hearing from new and emerging presses and is constantly on the look-out for untapped areas of literature, including fiction and poetry. “We see ourselves as local and global; based in our South London community but, through this, we are in conversation with a wider diaspora,” says Alice.

As well as engaging Brixton commuters with their newspapers, BRB also puts on regular events, allowing their local readers and book-lovers to come together under one roof.

“It’s always so interesting to see what our reading community actually looks like,” says Alice.

The next event in the calendar is on the 7 November at the independent Review Bookshop on Bellenden Road in Peckham, starting at 7pm.

The free event will see writers Will Eaves and Jennifer Hodgson do short readings of their latest works – Goldsmiths Prize nominated The Murmur and The Unmapped Country (her edition of stories and fragments by Ann Quinn) respectively, followed by a Q&A session.

Keep an eye out for issue three of BRB which is out now.