A Tale of Two Islands: Yvonne Bailey-Smith in conversation with Margaret Busby CBE

A striking story with unforgettable characters you’d expect to find in the grandest work of fiction‘ Candice Carty-Williams

First appearing at the festival in 2018 as part of the Queen’s Park Stories event, local author Yvonne Bailey-Smith returns in triumph this year with her debut novel The Day I Fell Off My Island, which has recently been published to great acclaim. At this year’s festival Yvonne will join the Queen’s Park Community Tent once again, this time in conversation with writer, editor and literary critic Margaret Busby CBE, celebrated as Britain’s first black female publisher and Chair of Judges for the 2020 Booker Prize for Fiction.

“As an immigrant child, I often wished that someone had been able to take me aside and explain to me that leaving everything I knew to go on a so-called adventure to somewhere way beyond my imagination was going to cause me an unimaginable sense of loss and sadness. 

I also wish that the same person had been there to reassure me that I would survive and even flourish, given half a chance. My work and conversations with children, young people and adults, as well as with many friends, have given me a unique insight into the travails of people who have experienced things for which they felt utterly unprepared at the time.

yvonne bailey-smith

Yvonne Bailey-Smith

Yvonne Bailey-Smith was born in Jamaica in 1954 and immigrated to the UK in 1969. She trained and worked first as a social worker before becoming a psychotherapist. She is also a Water Aid Supporter and passionate about providing clean water and sanitation in developing countries.

She is the mother of three children: novelist Zadie Smith; actor, musician and children’s book author Ben Bailey Smith; and lyricist and writer LucSkyz. She lives in Willesden. Yvonne’s short story based on her early childhood experiences in Jamaica was published in the New Daughters of Africa anthology and her debut novel The Day I Fell Off My Island was published by Myriad in June 2021.

Margaret Busby

Margaret Busby CBE, Hon. FRSL (Nana Akua Ackon) is a major cultural figure around the world. Born in Ghana and educated in the UK, she became Britain’s youngest and first black woman publisher when she co-founded Allison & Busby in the 1960s. A writer, editor, broadcaster and literary critic, she has judged numerous literary awards, including the Booker Prize, received many honours and served on several boards, among them the Royal Literary Fund, Wasafiri and the Africa Centre in London.