I've just seen that the Shortlist for the ICA Bookshop: Book of the Year is out and it's made me reflect on last year.
I spent much of November and December 2015 working in Bangladesh and South Africa. Bangladesh was tough. At times it felt like we were just touring from one disaster site to another. Interviewing women who had lost children to Rana Plaza or who had themselves jumped out of third floor windows to escape the Tazreen factory fire was both intense and draining.
I got back to the UK weighed down with stories from people who had explicitly told me they had given me their most painful memories so that I could tell the world what was really going on. It was a weight that didn't lessen until I finally got to tell Shahorbanu's story for the third anniversary of Rana Plaza in April 2015.
Discovering just before Christmas that I had been shortlisted for the ICA Bookshop Book of the Year for Stitched Up came at the perfect moment. It felt like a recognition that people were listening and valuing the stories I had to share.
Winning the shortlist doubled this feeling, though I still suspect it had a lot to do with the fabulous cover design and illustrations by my collaborative fashion illustrator Jade Pilgrom.
This year there is another sparkling Shortlist, testimony to the subversive, the challenging, and the vital stories that so often get ignored and to the hard work it takes to ink them into book form. Do check them out.