What are some upcoming trends for 2014?
There seems to be an exciting group emerging of fiercely intelligent women writers/critics/thinkers who work across disciplines, tying their work into themes from their own personal experience. Our own Olivia Laing’s The Trip to Echo Springis a hugely thrilling read investigating alcoholism, writing, addiction and creative genius. There’s Leslie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams from Graywolf, Valeria Luiselli’s upcoming essay collection Sidewalksfrom Coffee House Press, and Euny Hong’s memoir/cultural study The Birth of Korean Cool (to be published in August by Picador), which was described by Kirkus as a mix of Sarah Vowell, Margaret Cho and Cory Doctorow.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
Incredibly intricate and well-plotted novels that span the globe or different time periods with a large cast of characters. Some really great writing in this area right now is being done on television, but there are some authors doing brilliant work in books, such as David Mitchell and a British Booker longlisted author named Richard House, whose epic novel The Kills we’ll publish in August. It has been compared to le Carré and Bolaño.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
There has been so much dystopian and post-apocalyptic fiction being submitted—much of it good and some of it published but a lot of it resting on the premise of a complete destruction of current society, from which these new post-apocalyptic worlds are built. I’d love to see more speculative fiction which imagines a future, albeit very different, that draws upon current themes in society and imagines how they might develop in years and centuries to come but without having to completely destroy society to do so!
Anything else you’d like to add?
In thinking about answering these questions, three other possible trends came to mind:
There’s been much in the media about the burgeoning “silver-haired crisis” as the baby boomers age and find themselves in a new state of crisis, different from the “middle-age crisis” that they pioneered. We’re just publishing a wonderful novel called Mimi Malloy, At Last! by Julia MacDonnell, which tells the incredibly funny and sometimes quite profound story of a woman in later middle age who finds her life renewed, and herself opening up to new directions and new love. She also confronts some inescapable truths of aging and a new understanding of themes from earlier in her life. Mimi is a wonderful character, full of heart and verve. There seems to be a renewed exploration of aging both in fiction and nonfiction (see also Penelope Lively’s Dancing Fish and Ammonites from Viking).
There is also exciting writing exploring issues of race, identity and social justice. The University of Chicago Press is just now publishing a fascinating, important book by a young sociologist named Alice Goffman, whose On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City is about how 40 years of the war on drugs has created a surveillance state in America’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods. We’ll be publishing it in paperback next year, and we very much feel that it has the makings of a classic. I’m very much looking forward to reading Jeff Chang’s long-awaited Who We Be: The Colorization of America, which St. Martin’s is publishing this fall—he is a fascinating thinker and writer.
Lastly, I’m excited for a few upcoming novels from authors who are exploring themes of relationships between men and sexual identity: Booker finalist Christos Tsiolkas’ Barracuda (upcoming from Hogarth), Garth Greenwell’s What Belongs to You (Faber, 2015) and Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life (Doubleday, 2015).
Stephen Morrison is the publisher of Picador. He began his publishing career as a literary scout for foreign publishers at Maria B. Campbell Associates and was then a senior editor at Penguin Books, the rights and contracts director at Bloomsbury USA, and later the editor in chief and associate publisher at Penguin Books. His current and upcoming authors at Picador include: Tatamkhulu Afrika (Bitter Eden). Elisabeth de Waal (The Exiles Return), Eimear Lynch (The Bridesmaids), Ronald Frame (Havisham), Sophie Hannah (The Orphan Choir), Richard House (The Kills), Olivia Laing (The Trip to Echo Spring), Sally O’Reilly (Dark Aemilia), Michael Punke (The Revenant, 2015), and Jeanne Safer (The Evolution of Love, 2015).