In 1995 a new literary prize, the Saga Prize, was established for black authors born in Britain, prompted by its founder Marsha Hunt's belief that 'there is no black British fiction, period'. Hunt's comment, aside from its problematically narrow definition of the already contested term 'black British' as 'blacks born in Britain', reflects a much wider selective amnesia concerning black British literature. That such critical myopia should coexist with increased British media interest in West Indian and black British literature of late, is highly ironic;2 that it should so narrowly precede the fiftieth anniversary of the 'Windrush generation' points to the cultural and political urgency of re-assessing the contribution of West Indian and black British writers to post-war literature in Britain. Despite the possibility of tracing certain periodizations within this time span and the need to recognize shifts in the way such writers have been categorized, framed or read at different times, it is possible to regard such writing as a community of representations stretching over fifty years, one which has profoundly shaped contemporary British literary praxis but has often been critically neglected.



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