May 25, 2017

Manchester-based publishers respond to the UK’s latest, deadly terrorist attack


The Manchester Evening News Arena, in 2010

A devastating terrorist attack in Manchester on Monday has left the UK in shock.

Suicide bomber Salman Abedi blew himself up at Manchester Arena, at the end of an Ariande Grande concert. Grande is particularly popular with young girls, and among the twenty-two killed, four have been confirmed as teenagers. A further sixty-four have been injured.

According to the BBC,“The UK terror threat level is now up to its highest level of ‘critical’. This means more attacks may be imminent. Military personnel will now be deployed to protect key sites.”

The response from Manchester-based publishers has been of solidarity and sadness. Whilst London has long been the hub of the publishing industry in the UK, a literary scene in the north of England is thriving. The Bookseller spoke to four Manchester publishing houses after the attack.

Managing director of Carcanet Press, Michael Schmidt, said:

“It brings back 1996 and the big IRA bomb, though given the loss of life this is much worse in human terms. For Carcanet it is almost business as usual, though some colleagues can’t get in to work, and the famous ancient Chethams Library, where Engels worked and where we were to have a quarterly committee meeting today, is behind the cordon.

“Many of us were up much of the night with sirens, helicopters and anxiety. The mood in the centre seems quite sombre, the streets half empty. The trams are much reduced in number… Anyone living out beyond Victoria Station can’t get to work. The city is ­quieter than usual, apart from the insistent helicopters.”

Simon Ross, CEO of Manchester University Press, said:

“We made contact with staff early on and all are OK, although some inevitably delayed travelling in, and sadly some have friends of people directly affected by the event. But it’s very much business as usual, though lower key and there are some tired souls in the office, some having been up all night following the news.”

And Sara Hunt, publisher at Saraband Press added:

“Obviously it’s a terribly sad day for the people of Manchester and, indeed, for the whole of the UK. We send our heartfelt condolences to all those affected by the events last night, and we’re especially sickened that children were targeted. Manchester is as busy as ever today—albeit with a sombre mood in the air—and people are carrying on with their daily lives as usual, as are we at Saraband. It’s the only way to deal with this kind of attack.”

Ariana Grande.

The mood in the UK remains strong and contemplative. Britain’s political parties have suspended their general election campaigning out of respect for those lost and injured in the explosion. Some newspapers have chosen to focus the kindness of those who came to the victims’ aid, with one Independent story headlined “How people showed kindness and bravery in the face of unspeakable terror” and a Guardian piece focusing on “‘Absolute heroes’: praise for medics treating Manchester victims.”

Mancunian Angela Epstein, writing for the Telegraph, reiterated the importance of resilience in the face of fear and cowardice with this perfect sentiment:

“So would I take my daughter, now 13, should her beloved One Direction reform and book themselves a night at the Arena?

“In a heartbeat.

“For my city, my people, my arena will be not cowering under the weight of last night’s horror.

“We will mourn, remember and rise up. Each trip to the Arena an act of defiance, commemoration and proof that while there are those who choose death, we Mancunians, like so many before us will always—always—choose life.”



Nikki Griffiths is the managing director of Melville House UK.