On the intellectual merits of fiction and the debut novel of Redwood Press.
The email arrived with the morning download of author queries, manuscript reviews, and book proposals and recommendations. This one, from a Stanford colleague, subject line, “Greetings and an Inquiry,” opened with discussion of a speaker who had come to campus a few years earlier: Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, brilliant lecturer, previous book published by Bloomsbury, accomplished novelist. And that’s where I stopped short—a novelist. SUP does not publish fiction.
Some editorial instinct urged me to question my immediate “no fiction” response.
When culling book proposal submissions, the first pass is always the easiest: eliminate the “don’ts”—those manuscripts that don’t conform, in form or content, with our publishing agenda. And the line between nonfiction and fiction is often starkly drawn at publishing houses. But within my own acquisition area, Middle East studies, I’ve increasingly noticed works of fiction on syllabi alongside our Press monographs. Some editorial instinct urged me to question my immediate “no fiction” response.