WHO WE ARE
Hajar Press is a new independent political publishing house run by and for people of colour. We publish books by writers of colour with transformative ways of seeing, imagining and remaking our world.
In these times of precarity and isolation for so many of us, Hajar hopes to respond to an urgent need for solidarity and community among writers and readers of colour, who are so frequently shut out from both the publishing industry and many conversations on the mainstream left.
‘Hajar Press stands out dramatically in a landscape of lacklustre “diversity and inclusion” schemes. Publishing is institutionally racist, and only with new institutions, new foundations and a paradigm shift can things begin to transform. I can’t wait to watch Hajar’s very existence change things.’ — Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan
Antiracism is not a commercial trend, an optics trick to look good and cash in. We reject the notion that our worth is market-driven—our stories occasionally tokenised and uplifted to serve white guilt and liberal curiosity, then relegated again to ‘special markets’ and the back of the list.
As a political press, we are uninterested in increasing ‘diversity’ while ignoring the oppressive structures that keep us unequal. We cannot talk about ‘inclusion’ at the expense of racism, white supremacy and imperialism; nor ‘representation’ instead of capitalism and exploitation.
But we must also intervene in the left, where for too long people of colour have been asked to legitimise and lend our support to movements that have only sidelined and silenced us in return. We don’t have time for politics that erase and leave behind the most marginalised people.
If we want real change, we have to build it ourselves, from the community up.
Hajar seeks to combine political engagement with literary innovation.
We will publish fiction and nonfiction books, including essays and poetry, that embody how politics are lived and move us to see and think differently. We appreciate the roles of social memory and the spoken word in storytelling and encourage genre-bending and formally ambitious experimentation.
We don’t believe in upholding an either/or distinction between beautiful and revolutionary. Why not both? The world we want to live in is not just one of justice and liberation; it is also lyrical, mysterious, playful and imaginative.
Traditional, profit-maximising publishers commission books based on the success of previous titles, building a tendency to follow trends and pushing writers into restrictive boxes. Instead we ask our authors to be guided by their creative and political dreams and to think about what they would write if given the space to pursue and produce whatever they wanted.
Our independence and mission allow us to publish works that other presses might find too ‘commercially risky’ to take on.
Design, too, is political and crucial to our work. It’s important to us that the creatives who make our books look beautiful are also people of colour. Often, cover designs for projects by writers of colour rely on clichéd aesthetics. We want to make a radical statement through simple, attractive designs.
‘Against a homogeneous publishing industry, critical thinkers and campaigners of colour have long noted the lack of presses that give their work the care it deserves. Hajar Press promises to present us with important, unapologetic and transformative interventions. I cannot wait to see what they bring out.’ — Priyamvada Gopal
We’re so hyped about our amazing first six authors! They are all meticulous thinkers, powerful writers, and incredible people, who reflect on our histories yet are ready to build everything anew. For most of them, this will be their first book—we’re truly honoured and cannot wait to share their work with the world!
Yara is a Palestinian writer and political commentator. She completed her PhD in Middle East Politics at the University of Exeter, where her research focused on oral history and Indigenous Studies. She currently works as a senior policy fellow at Al-Shabaka, a Palestinian think tank.
Lola is a black feminist writer, organiser and researcher. She is the author of ‘Feminism Interrupted’; a co-author of ‘A FLY Girl’s Guide to University’; and a member of ‘bare minimum’. Her work focuses on the uses of the feminist imagination and its relationship with futurity.
Heba is a London-based writer born and raised in Gaza, Palestine. Having completed her MFA in Creative Writing, she is now studying for an MA in Social Anthropology at SOAS, where she has been involved in several activist movements, including for BDS, prison abolition and demilitarisation.
Cradle is a POC collective of facilitators, organisers, educators and artists committed to radical education and building community understanding of prison abolition and transformative justice.
Jamal is a London-based writer, whose work has been featured by Magma, the BBC, Popula and Media Diversified. He has been shortlisted for the Outspoken Prize for Poetry in Film and won the national Poetry Rivals in 2016.
Sarah is a poet and writer from London. She is an alumna of the Barbican Young Poets and a current member of Octavia – Poetry Collective for Women of Colour.
WHY WE NEED YOUR HELP
We want Hajar to be a community-driven project, one that maintains its independence by not having to knuckle under the conditions of strings-attached funding. This is where we hope you can support us to help make Hajar happen!
We’re raising money to cover some of the initial costs for our first series of six short books. Your support will go towards author advances; paying cover designers, illustrators and typesetters; and software and admin (e.g. website, ISBNs). You can see how these costs will be distributed here:
We don’t seek to make profit for shareholders; what is important to us is Hajar’s sustainability and that we can pay everyone fairly for their work.
We’ve created a painstakingly considered budget and business plan to make sure Hajar succeeds. Our model is subscriptions-based, whereby readers sign up to receive an annual bundle of books, at a discounted price from the individual RRP. This way they can be introduced to all sorts of dreamy writing, support all of our authors at once, and become part of an active community of Hajar readers, with access to specially curated events.
We are choosing not to work with Amazon; the primary sales channel for our individual books and subscriptions will be our website. If we meet our crowdfunding target and can get our books designed, we plan to launch the subscriptions towards the end of the year and will use this income to cover our printing costs. So if you’re interested in becoming a subscriber, keep your eyes peeled!
If the crowdfunder is wildly successful and we raise more than our target, we’ll put any extra money towards printing, distribution, running events, and holding a Hajar launch party in summer 2021 (in the hope inshallah that the world doesn’t end).
Building this from scratch has been nerve-wracking, but we are vvv excited for what’s to come. We’re sincerely grateful for any donation you can make to help us publish our sublime authors and launch something genuinely radical for our communities. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you <3
‘In an industry that often defaults to the white gaze, Hajar is a breath of fresh air. Too often are writers of colour pressured into undermining their work for the benefit of an idea of middle England, while publishers do little to reach the audiences they are actually writing for. Hajar is set to disrupt and disprove much of the received wisdom that keeps the rest of publishing firmly in the past.’ — Nathaniel McKenzie
As a humble token of our appreciation, we will give donors the following rewards:
For a generous donation of £20 or more, we’ll send you a cute Hajar Press enamel pin and a pack of five stickers.
For a generous donation of £100 or more, we’ll send you one book of your choice from our upcoming 2021 list, an enamel pin and two sticker packs.
For a generous donation of £250 or more, you’ll get a subscription to our 2021 list, three enamel pins and two sticker packs.
(Please note that these rewards do not reflect the actual price of the books or subscriptions.)