Editorial

This edition includes writers born in Africa, Asia and South America as well as in Europe.

One person who has connected to USA and the Caribbean is art magazine editor and photographer Fanny Dubes Arbuthnott. She must be very proud of her photograph of James Baldwin and her involvement in the iconic poetry anthologies Hard Lines. There’s a feature about a soon to be released film titled Beijing Spring. One of the heroes, Qu Leilei is a regular visitor to Oxford and Ai Weiwei has a new installation at Blenheim Palace.

Most good novels have a strong sense of place. Julie Anderson delves into that topic. Her thrillers have distinct locations. Julie was a senior civil servant at the treasury and that experience not only gave her insight into the underbelly of Whitehall but to literally a hidden world under our feet. If any readers go to London, you may like to explore her unusual walk.

I hope my novels have a similar sense of place. Half of Sculpting the Elephant is set in Jericho. Most visitors to Oxford head for the dreaming spires and miss hidden gems like this former working class district that narrowly escaped being bulldozed to be replaced by high rise. Some of you visited the oxib stand at the popular and fun Jericho Book Fair in Mount Place by the canal.

One of the exhibitors at the fair was Professor Simon Altmann. I expected he would want to show his face but didn’t anticipate that he could stay the whole day. Not many 97 year olds are planning their next book. He’s a good example of what is international and inspirational about Oxford.  Simon was born in Argentina – political problems made him leave. He has strong connections to Italy too. I introduced him to Shrenik Rao the editor of the award winning Madras Courier. Shrenik is a fellow at St Anne’s and divides his time between Oxford and India.Over 200,000 people read Simon’s feature You can join them .

Yang Mai Ooi was born in Malaysia and came here as a student and has recently returned to live in our city. She has a fabulous podcast called Tiger Spirit to which she has recently added a section called Oxford Moments.

We take libraries and literacy for granted but we shouldn’t – we need to treasure them. I wouldn’t be a writer if, aged seven,  I hadn’t had access to a public library. Dr Anna Tilley is the chair of the welcoming Friends of Watlington Library who organise successful author events to raise money for their community library explains why YOU should become a FRIEND of your local library!

Nancy Mudenyo Hunt was born in West Kenya. Her childhood there and work transforming the lives of thousands of young people  together with her experience as a diversity trainer with the Thames Valley Police inspired the novel we wrote together. She was determined that every penny from sales of Not so Black and White be used to give women who lost out on the opportunities which come with literacy the chance to learn. Kakamega county is the same size as Oxfordshire and has NOT ONE LIBRARY not even in their schools. Anyone  interested in helping us build one do please get in touch with the NasioTrust. We need 200 gifts of £50 from individuals and organisations. Their names will be written on the I LOVE READING boards we will display on the outside wall under cover of the veranda.

Simon Altmann is an inspiration but so too is Sarah Gary. Her exceptional short stories were written after she contracted Motor Neuron Disease. Her determination to continue writing reminds me of Steven Hawkins devotion to physics. I hope you agree that Urban Creatures is outstanding. Tracy Chevalier and Clare Balding think so.

Oxford attracts people from all over the world and connects to all corners of the globe. This edition of the Oxib magazine reflects that. I hope we can make all newcomers feel at home. Artist Diana Bell explores the idea of HOME.

Ben Fox writes about his new search engine Shepherd.com and explains how YOU can take part and promote your book (for free)

We will be delighted to see readers face to face on November 6 in Wesley Memorial Hall in New Inn Hall Street. The postponement of our book fair only seems to have added to the enthusiasm. If the Oxford Indie Book Fair is a success we hope to organise our second to coincide with the Oxford Literary Festival in 2022. The cover of the magazine is the poster Manchurian born artist Weimin He made for the International Conference on Health which coincided with the G7 and is evidence of the world coming to Oxford and hopefully feeling welcome.

Sylvia Vetta

Oxford Writers Group

By Sylvia Vetta

Not so Black and White