C.P. Heiser, publisher of Unnamed Press, and Olivia Taylor Smith, executive editor and director of publicity and marketing at the small, literary press, recently spoke to LJ about how it came to be that the authors on Unnamed’s winter 2016 list are all women, and why that’s a welcome development.
Since launching Unnamed Press in 2013, we’ve sought to publish writers from all over the world and to be open—editorially—to a lot of different perspectives. As an independent press, we’ve found that when you challenge the dominant narratives and the traditional point of view, you wind up with an all-woman author season (without even trying).
We feel that this is a subject worth talking about because it is what we as editors are responsible for discussing. When the VIDA Count [a volunteer-run literary organization focused on women’s participation in the literary world] began its work in 2010, it blew the doors open, so that gender parity in publishing became a conversation that people were having. The count was eye-opening for a lot of people, and prompted publications to make changes, simply by being more aware that they needed to do so.
Publishers obviously mean well, and we applaud presses such as & Other Stories, which announced a Year of Publishing Women in 2018 as a way to address its lack of female authors. We feel that as gatekeepers, we can move beyond the notion that one must ignore or set aside work by men in order to find work of quality by women or people of nonconforming genders. The stories are out there.
Toward ethnic diversity
Newer literary journals—The Offing, for example—are making gender and ethnic diversity components of their editorial mission. We feel as though our list is part of a larger, broader movement, one that is always going to be necessary, a conversation that needs to continue to happen. Olivia and I were deeply involved in helping launch the Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB). LARB’s influence has been in large part owing to its international scope, and that model was something that Olivia and I sought to emulate as we founded Unnamed Press. It was an important goal as we were encountering wonderful authors who, whether they were American or Bangladeshi or Estonian, were writing in contemporary voices that transcended borders and individual cultures.
The following books will be released by Unnamed Press in the Winter 2016 publishing season.
Adriaanse, Bette. Rus Like Everyone Else. Unnamed. Dec. 2015. 274p.
ISBN 971939419538. pap. $16. f
A peek into the curious lives of a group of neighbors as they are observed by their local postal worker. Former postal worker Adriaanse lives in Amsterdam and London but will be on a U.S. tour for this book and is available for library events.
Hallman, Carly J. Year of the Goose. Unnamed. Dec. 2015. 286p. ISBN 9781939419514. pap. $16. F
A hilarious satire of tycoon culture in modern China. Hallman lives in Beijing but will be touring the United States and is available for library programs. Selected for the December 2015 Indie Next List.
Josaphat, Fabienne. Dancing in the Baron’s Shadow. Unnamed. Feb. 2016. 256p.
ISBN 9781939419576. pap. $16. f
A tour de force through Haiti in 1965, as two brothers must navigate life under the island’s brutal dictator and plan a death-defying escape from prison. Josaphat lives in Miami and is available for library events.
Muslim, Kristine Ong. Age of Blight. Unnamed. Jan. 2016. 144p. ISBN 9781939419569. pap. $14. Short stories
Short stories from one of the leading speculative horror writers in the Phillippines.
Pariat, Janice. Seahorse. Unnamed. Jan. 2016. 276p. ISBN 9781939419552. pap. $16. f
Short-listed for the Hindu Best Fiction Prize, this sweeping epic set in New Delhi and London’s contemporary art scene tells of the tenuous nature of love and fleeting memories. Pariat is based in New Delhi.