February 6, 2017
Literary agents are seeking Muslim writers
by Ryan Harrington
Very often we measure the health of the publishing industry by taking its pulse of units sold (she’s really tickin’, by the way).
But we can imagine employing other metrics to give us a more holistic understanding of the body publishing. One such measure could be the industry’s ability to mobilize against the creeping fascism our fascist creep of a president has planned for us. With a few conspicuous exceptions, I think the book industry is passing this physical exam.
Here at MobyLives we’ve covered the resistance efforts of a bookstore fighting to keep their damning anti-Trump window display; other bookstores have hosted teach-ins. One review outlet has refused to give a platform to a company that has made space for hate speech on its list. Translators have helped fight the immigration ban. Free speech organizations have moved to protect our country’s intellectual community. Publishers have given away the work of some of their best and brightest for free. And, of course, our dear authors have refused to stay silent.
Of course I’ve skipped over so many glorious and meaningful actions performed by these united book folk, but today I’d like to shout out another critical species in the publishing ecosystem: the literary agent. They too have risen to the daunting task ahead of us, by banding together and issuing an open call for Muslim Writers. It’s no secret that we need diverse books, and have routinely come up short on that mission. Now with huge swaths of our friends and family deemed illegal, and facing travel restrictions or deportation, we absolutely must amplify their work.
The ad-hoc agent group says:
Literary agents are in a unique position to help contribute to bringing more empathy, compassion, understanding and tolerance into this world through books. We seek out unheard voices so that others can hear them.
We are a group of literary agents having an open call for book submissions by Muslim writers. We all agree that the current political climate demands a need for a greater presence of authors of Muslim heritage in the book marketplace. We are taking action to help make that happen.
So thank you to our agents-in-arms, who have listed the submissions criteria and an enormous list of willing agent-readers here. Tell your friends!
Ryan Harrington is a senior editor at Melville House.