What are some upcoming trends for the next year?
I expect we’ll be seeing a lot of stories centered around reflection and proactive discourse this year.
I work as a bookseller part-time at a bookstore right across the street from Amazon’s. Over the holidays, I noticed that the bulk of the conversations I was having with readers revolved around people challenging themselves to read more diversely.
I had liberal readers asking for copies of Hillbilly Elegyby J.D. Vance or Why the Right Went Wrong by E.J. Dionne Jr. to buy as gifts for their friends. I had readers telling me that their 2017 resolution to read works exclusively by female voices of color while buying Han Kang’s The Vegetarian or Brit Bennett’s The Mothers.
On the YA side, teens seemed to gravitate toward more serious contemporary stories, and a lot of young girls were adding copies of books like Jessica Valenti’s Sex Object or Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists to their piles. Who says millennials aren’t political?
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
I’m looking for more YA contemporary stories, specifically ones involving Japanese-American internment, refugees and displacement, biculturalism, or inscribed identity. I’d love to have a YA version of Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison magically appear in my inbox.
I’m also searching for immigration stories and would like a novel reminiscent of In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
I don’t think I can rule out a single topic anymore, as authors keep surprising me with new treatments of topics that previously had felt overdone. For a while, I felt jaded by YA fantasy retellings, but I have read a few things recently that’ve quickly changed my mind.
What is unique about your corner of the publishing industry?
I’m originally from the Los Angeles area and based on the west coast, so working with the time difference and distance can be a unique challenge. However, there are a lot of us out here; plus, we have film and new media within close proximity. As an added bonus, when looking outside our office window, I see surfers in wetsuits on their way to the beach with their dogs. It’s almost too California to be real.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I work with an incredible team of agents here at SDLA, each of whom have their unique specialties and are constantly adding titles to my to-be-read list. Sandra Dijkstra, Elise Capron, Jill Marr, Thao Le, Roz Foster, Jessica Watterson, and Suzy Evans are all looking for new projects—check out their interests at www.dijkstraagency.com.
Jennifer Kim is a junior agent and assistant at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency. A graduate of the University of California, Irvine, Jennifer holds a B.A. in English literature and Spanish literature and spent a year studying at the University of Barcelona. She also works as a bookseller for Barnes & Noble and has done so since 2012.