What are some upcoming trends for the next year?
My hope is that this year will bring more diverse voices, more works in translation, and more focus on emerging writers. It’s been wonderful to see more focus in these areas recently, and I think that momentum can (and should) only grow.
At LARB Books, 2019 will bring a lot of discussion of our current political situation and the history that brought us here, examinations of identity and belonging, and explorations of Southern California’s rich history, literary and otherwise. The first title from LARB Books is from the Classics series: A Stab in the Dark, a bilingual poetry collection by Sonoran poet and journalist Facundo Bernal, translated by Anthony Seidman. A landmark of Chicano literature, A Stab in the Dark is a poetic chronicle of the struggles and joys of the Spanish- speaking community in Los Angeles and in the burgeoning border town of Mexicali during the early 1920s.
Coming soon after will be Atrocity Exhibition by Brad Evans, a collection of essays and interviews about the history and effect of violence in our society. This year, we’ll have a memoir by Colin Dayan about growing up Syrian-Haitian in the Southern-belle South, called In the Belly of Her Ghost, and also in 2019, a reissue of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ The Girl from Hollywood, the legendary author’s foray out of sci-fi and into the seamy underbelly of Prohibition-era Los Angeles.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
The best book to come across is the one you never expected! I am very excited about LARB’s True Stories project, a series of novella-length creative nonfiction works. I’d love to see some more books that fit into that series. And I’m always interested in translated works and projects that are innovative and playful with form, perspective, or genre.
Another exciting project at LARB Books is the Classics series, which revives out-of-print books from Southern California, contextualized with a contemporary introduction. I am always excited when a classic I’ve never heard of comes across my desk, especially when it speaks to a part of Southern California history that doesn’t typically get the limelight. I’d love to see other translations in the Classics series, and other books about immigrant experiences in Los Angeles, to follow A Stab in the Dark.
How do you work with self-published authors?
We have yet to work with any self-published authors, but we’re open to submissions of new work. The quality of the work is what matters—not where you’ve published before.
What do you want to change about publishing?
More accessibility for new/young/underrepresented writers, more focus on independent presses and bookstores, and more people reading books, of all different kinds! Everyone can always read more books.
What’s unique about your corner of the publishing industry?
LARB Books is a nonprofit and a tiny operation, so our authors get a lot of hands-on attention, and the same people (primarily Assistant Director Stephanie Malak and me) are working on every title from start to finish. Because of all the time spent with each title, we care deeply about each of the books we publish and about the writers we work with. We don’t have the capacity to publish hundreds of books a year (or even 10!), so each book LARB publishes is precious and treated as such. Much of our Provocations series are books that will grow out of pieces on LARB’s website, so there is an added dimension of personal connection there—such as Atrocity Exhibitionor Yxta Maya Murray’s Advice and Consent,which will also be out in 2019.
Ellie Duke is the managing editor of LARB Books, the publishing wing of the Los Angeles Review of Books. You can connect with her on Twitter @elliecduke and @LARBBooks.