May 2, 2012

Melville House’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber wins award for best “radical publishing”


London, 1 May 2012 — The Alliance of Radical Booksellers has announced that Melville House‘s Debt: The First 5,000 Years, by David Graeber was the winner of the 2012 Bread and Roses Award for Radical Publishing.

As described on the Alliance’s website, the award, launched to mark the centenary of the Bread and Roses strike, “is an independent award for the best radical book published each year.  The aim of the award is to promote the publication of radical books, to raise the profile of radical publishing, and to reward exceptional work.” The winning entry receives £1000.

Judges for the award were author Nina Power, novelist and poet Michael Rosen, and Festival Director of Liverpool’s annual Writing on the Wall Festival, Madeline Heneghan.

According to the Alliance’s report on the award ceremony, Power announced the winner, saying that the judges felt the book was “utterly indispensable, not only for understanding the terms of the world we live in, where they came from, but also for what we do about changing them.”

Other titles shortlisted titles for the award were: Counterpower: Making Change Happen by Tim Gee, published by New Internationalist; Tweets from Tahrir: Egypt’s Revolution as it Unfolded, in the Words of the People Who Made It edited by Nadia Idle and Alex Nunns, and published by OR Books; Verso‘s Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class by Owen Jones; and two titles from Pluto Press, Magical Marxism by Andy Merrifield, and Penny Red: Notes from the New Age of Dissent by Laurie Penny.

The Alliance of Radical Booksellers is an organization of independent UK booksellers that requires that its membership “be informed by socialist, anarchist, environmental, feminist or anti-racist concerns” and “stock or sell books which inspire, support or report on political and/or personal change in the global, national or local sphere.”

Melville House co-publisher Dennis Johnson said,  “How grand to have one of our books even considered for an award from a group of booksellers so important to our culture — indeed, from the proprietors of the kind of bookshops where we prefer to spend our time and money. Hats off to them for what they do, and thanks for their support, which means the world to us.”

Graeber, an anthropologist who teaches at Goldsmiths College, University of London, has been called a “brilliant, deeply original thinker” by Rebecca Solnit, and the book has been hailed by Paul Mason in The Guardian as “one of the year’s most influential books.”

At the time of this writing, Graeber could not be reached for comment on his book winning the award, as he was on the streets of New York City as part of the May Day activities of the Occupy Wall Street movement.