Riaz Phillips, author of a new book about Caribbean food in the UK, tells Victoria Stewart why he started his Belly Full project.
If you’ve heard a story like this, where after being turned away by various agents a budding writer finally gets noticed and lands their dream book deal, here’s one that starts similarly but ends differently.
Three years ago, when Londoner and former music photographer Riaz Phillips had the idea of writing a book in which he could document the personal histories of the people behind some of the UK’s Caribbean bakeries, takeaways and dine-in cafes, he did indeed write to a number of literary agents, who did indeed fail to respond.
But instead of hanging around for someone to eventually realise that his idea might have legs, Phillips did what your average Joe would probably not have done, and set up a publishing company called Tezeta Press with a view to making the project happen his own way. His aim was to go out and find the stories himself, including researching, photographing and writing them, then fund the project via Kickstarter.
The result was Phillips’ own version of a glossy book deal: ‘Belly Full: Caribbean Food in The UK’ is a brightly packaged, carefully curated 300-page collection of engaging portraits of Caribbean food and the people who make it, in cities including London, Manchester and Leeds.
To read the article, which appeared in full in the Evening Standard, click here.