What are some upcoming trends for 2014?
I think we’re going to see a lot of bighearted, outlandish eccentricity in the next year or so. After spending so many months worrying over tedious, bureaucratic things like the government shutdown and the user friendliness of a federal website, we’re ready to cast our eyes heavenward. Imagination is paramount. I’m thinking of books like Porochista Khakpour’s The Last Illusion, about to be published by Bloomsbury, a wild fable about a boy who was raised as a bird. This summer will bring Marie-Helene Bertino’s magical debut novel, 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas, from Crown—with characters absolutely full of wonder—and our own Preparing the Ghost, a magnificent book-length essay by Matthew Gavin Frank about memory, obsession and the giant squid (an obvious combination if ever there was one). Then this fall, Public Affairs is bringing out Nothing is True and Everything is Possible by Peter Pomerantsev, a wildly funny and often surreal look at 21st-century Russia (full disclosure: I became aware of this book because my husband is the American editor). Fiction, nonfiction, new writers, established writers—look for a lot of color and spice this year.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
I love publishing books that look at history from a new, often novelistic angle, something in the vein of The Hare with Amber Eyes (2010)or The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher (2011). Another long-held wish is to do a few great sports books, particularly football. I am a true, passionate Boston sports fan, and I firmly believe that sport is narrative, so I’d love to see some really literary sports books in my inbox. I’m also always looking for an expansive, multigenerational novel that will make me feel the way I did when I read The Thorn Birds (1977)as a kid. I would have read that story through 10 more generations. I’m very lucky at Liveright to be able to publish such a range of books.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
I’m sure a lot of people say the same thing, that there really is no topic, however well-trodden, that can’t be reinvented by a truly brilliant writer. So instead, I’ll say that what I hope to see less of is navel-gazing in general. Whatever the genre, I’m allergic to writers who mythologize their own experiences without thinking about a larger relevance.
What is unique about your corner of the industry?
Norton is employee-owned, something I knew but did not fully appreciate until I began working here. People have a stake in this place, and that gives them a deeper pride and sense of purpose about our shared work. When an editor brings a submission to the editorial board, it can sometimes be a fight because everyone around that table is implicitly protecting a reputation they’ve helped create. That passion is really special, and I’ll take it over cynicism any day.
Katie Henderson Adams is an editor at Liveright (a division of W.W. Norton) acquiring literary fiction and nonfiction. She received her Bachelor of Arts at Columbia University and a master’s degree in English Literature at New York University. She has formerly worked at Other Press, Doubleday, Bloomsbury Press and Oxford University Press.