Industry Notes: London Book Fair’s 2019 Trailblazers; GLLI’s First YA Translation Winner

In News by Porter Anderson

The London Book Fair’s Trailblazer Awards now have honored 20 20-something publishing standouts in four years. And the first translation prize from the GLLI program goes to a Penguin Random House work on homophobia and relationship.

From left, the winners of the 2019 London Book Fair and Publishers Association’s Trailblazer Awards are Leena Normington, Sabby Kaur, Hena Bryan, Salma Ibrahim, and Nicola Chang. Image: LBF

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Supporting Key Publishing Initiatives’
In its fourth year, the Trailblazer Awards program from London Book Fair (March 12-14) has again named five publishing players younger than 30 whose work stands out in UK publishing.

The winners of the program, which is a partnership with the Publishers Association, were announced Thursday evening (January 31) at Soho House in a program hosted by The Guardian’s online books editor Sian Cain. London Book Fair director Jacks Thomas and ITN’s diversity lead Priscilla Baffour spoke at the event. The program has support from the Society of Young Publishers (SYP) and BookBrunch.

This year, Thomas was joined on the judging panel by the Publishers Association’s Emma House; SYP chair Ain Deheb Bensenouci; BookBrunch editor Neill Denny; and Lounge Books’ Sam Missingham.

In her comments, Thomas is quoted, saying, “This year’s winners are truly inspiring, innovating our industry by founding new publishing houses, championing diverse voices, producing inspiring digital content, and supporting key publishing initiatives.

“They have each already had a huge impact on our industry, and we look forward to seeing what they do next.”

2019 Trailblazer Awards Winners
  • Hena Bryan, founder of Bryan House Publishing, which she founded while at university to publish BAME narratives (black, Asian, and minority ethnic). Bryan is a trainee at Hachette UK
  • Nicola Chang, literary agent, the seven-month-old Good Literary Agency, which reportedly has signed 30 writers and has sold a debut work in an auction for six figures
  • Salma Ibrahim, founder, Literary Natives, which works to connect writers of color with the UK publishing industry
  • Sabby Kaur, content licensing manager at Emerald Publishing, where her transactions have generated nearly £3 million in revenue (US$3.9 million). Kaur went through the Aspire Leadership program and is on the Society for Scholarly Publishing’s diversity and inclusion committee
  • Leena Normington, digital content producer at Vintage Penguin Random House, known by many for her work with Sara Lloyd on Pan Macmillan’s Book Break and for her book promotion work at her Leena Norms YouTube channel

The five winners receive VIP entry to the London Book Fair its Club at the Ivy pop-up; tickets to the fair’s International Excellence Awards; an invitation to an SYP networking event and to a Book Society dinner; and a seat at the Quantum Conference on March 11.

Past winners of the Trailblazer Awards are:


  • Abiola Bello, The Author School and Hashtag Press
  • Anna Cunnane, Abrams & Chronicle Book ltd
  • Katie Seaman, Ebury Press
  • Natalie Shaw, Granta
  • Phoebe Morgan, HarperCollins


  • Anna Russo, Hodder Education
  • Caroline Tatam, Cambridge University Press
  • Claire O’Neill, Audible UK
  • Heather McDaid, 404 Ink
  • Željka Marošević, Daunt Books Publishing


  • George Burgess, Gojimo
  • Clio Cornish, HarperCollins
  • Nick Coveney, Kings Road Publishing
  • Ella Kahn, DKW Literary Agency
  • Bryony Woods, DKW Literary Agency

Japanese YA Manga Translation Wins First GLLI Prize

Also late last month, during the American Library Association’s meeting in Seattle, the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative (GLLI) program named the first winner of its new Translated YA Book Prize.

Jurors in the prize program were Annette Y. Goldsmith; Gene Hayworth, University of Colorado; Kim Rostan, Wofford College; Laura Simeon, Kirkus Reviews; and Elaine Tai, Burlingame Public Library. They were assisted by GLLI director Rachel Hildebrandt Reynolds.

The winner, My Brother’s Husband, Volumes One and Two, is by Japan’s Gengoroh Tagame. It’s published by Penguin Random House’s Pantheon, and translated to English by Anne Ishii.

This work of manga is described in the organization’s media messaging as “gently but effectively” critical of homophobia in Japanese society.

When Mike, the Canadian husband of Yaichi’s late brother shows up on his doorstep, Yaichi is courteous but standoffish, while his young daughter Kana is thrilled to meet her gay uncle.

In commentary on the choice of the work for the inaugural prize from this program in translated YA content, the jury’s Annette Goldsmith is quoted saying, “The committee loved this sweet, nuanced story of coming to terms with one’s own prejudices and embracing a truly modern family.

The Global Literature in Libraries Initiative advocates for the acquisition of translated literature by libraries.

“Books in translation for young adults remain a tiny fraction of even those in translation,” according to GLLI’s director Rachel Hildebrandt Reynolds in a prepared statement. “There is an urgent need for greater international understanding and cross-cultural empathy among our young people. Reading books can help bridge those gaps.”

The prize will be presented at the library association’s annual meeting in Washington, June 20 to 25.

Honorable mentions were made by the jury to:

  • La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obono, translated from the Spanish by Lawrence Schimel (Feminist Press) — Equatorial Guinea
  • Piglettes by Clementine Beauvais, translated from the French by the author (Pushkin Children’s Books) — France
  • Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lövestam, translated from the Swedish by Laura A. Wideburg (Flatiron Books) — Sweden

More about this awards program is  in our announcement of the GLLI shortlist here.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the London Book Fair is here, on translation is here, and on publishing awards is here. More of our Industry Notes series is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.