What are some upcoming trends for the next year?
As a house, we approach publishing as a social and political project, and so I don’t think about trends as much as conversations that I hope we can help convene and contribute to. In that vein:
I imagine we’ll see more books on feminism and on gendered power dynamics—and I also hope we’ll see works that continue to explore new languages for thinking and talking about power and sexuality.
I’m expecting that we’ll see meatier and more complex explorations of the rise of xenophobic white nationalist movements, now that we’re a year or so into the Trump presidency and Brexit, and the moment for quick takes has passed.
I also hope the conversation about structural racism—experientially, economically, historically—will continue. The idea that racial slavery and segregation reverberate into our own time and determine much of our social world has again made its way into the mainstream, and I would like to see writers continue to reckon with its shape and what different futures might look like.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
I’d love to see books that think about feminism and gender violence from the standpoints of women whose lives have been made precarious: poor women, female workers in domestic labor and service jobs, often women of color, transwomen and gender-queer people, undocumented and refugee women. For the current #MeToo moment to coalesce into a meaningful social movement, it needs to attend to more than elite women.
With North Korea in the news cycle, it’s very clear how little U.S. politicians, and sections of the general public, know about East Asia. I’d like to see popular histories and current-day narratives of the Pacific world and the routes of people, capital, empire, militarization, and protest that cross the region.
I also would love to see books on the United States’ continuing and ongoing “war on terrorism,” which seems to have dropped completely from the public conversation, though militarization is woven into the fabric of United States political and social life.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
Books about why people are not feminists.
What do you want to change about publishing?
I’d refer you (somewhat self-servingly, since Verso published it!) to André Schiffrin’s The Business of Books, in which he uses his experience at Pantheon under Random House to argue that the corporate and for-profit model of book publishing privileges the lowest common denominator and prevents difficult ideas from circulating. Schiffrin helped to found The New Press in protest, and I want to see his vision of publishing be taken to heart across the industry.
What’s unique about your corner of the publishing industry?
Verso is among a group of independent left, experimental, literary publishers that can take on what big trade houses might consider more boutique projects, so I have the great luxury of considering projects based on their worth as books and as literary or political contributions. We are a for-profit press, so our books need to cost out, but if they do and there’s an argument for why I believe a book deserves publication, it’s often possible to take it on.
Jessie Kindig joined Verso Books as an editor in 2017 and acquires widely in history, politics, the humanities and social sciences, and literary and serious nonfiction. Jessie held previous positions as an associate agent at Roam Agency, a visiting assistant professor of history at Indiana University, and as an assistant editor at the Journal of American History. She is also a visiting scholar in New York University’s Department of Social and Cultural Analysis. Jessie holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Washington and a BA summa cum laude in American studies from Barnard College.