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Statement regarding Zong! by M. NourbeSe Philip

M. NourbeSe Philip’s Zong! is an astonishing, transcendent work that shows us the intricacies of the relationship between language and power. Those who wish to engage with it meaningfully must recognise that it is not simply a text but also a living body that radically reimagines our ways of being and understanding.

In our initial publication of Zong! we altered the margins of the page, curtailing the space for living, mourning, speaking, remembering and honouring those who were thrown overboard the ship Zong and those who have been lost or injured by the trans-Atlantic slave trade and ongoing colonialism. We apologise sincerely to the author and her readers for the mistakes that led to publication in a standard British paper size, rather than to the specific requirements of the work as articulated by the author. This statement, written in consultation with the author, is an apology and a recognition of the ongoing work we must do regarding listening, careful attention and care.

In working with Zong!, we have recognised the need to change the nature of the encounter between books, writers, readers and publishers. We are committed to responding to this call and being part of the intervention. We are working with the author on a new edition to be published this autumn that ensures the production values meet her wishes, and are grateful for her continued collaboration and generosity.

We apologise unreservedly to M. NourbeSe Philip and to those who have contributed their work to the publication of this volume, including Katherine McKittrick, Saidiya Hartman and those involved in the original launch. We apologise for the confusion surrounding the ICA event last November. This should not reflect in any way on the ICA or the participants of the event. We look forward to announcing a new launch event at the ICA in due course. We apologise to bookshops and readers for the delay in publication and thank you for your patience.

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