By Nathan Rostron
- How and when did Restless Books appear?
Since our beginnings as a publisher of e-books in 2013, Restless Books has embraced a mission of bringing the world’s vast array of essential voices to an American reading audience. Founded by Ilan Stavans, the Lewis-Sebring Professor of Humanities and Latin American and Latin Culture at Amherst College in Massachusetts, and Joshua Ellison, Restless registered as a not-for-profit corporation to further our commitment towards translated and international literature at the end of 2016. Our history of promoting the diversification of American publishing standards comes with the intent of progressing internationalism, diversity, and immigrant culture.
- What contents are its main publishing interests?
Restless Books publishes a wide selection of genres and series that aim to highlight under-represented areas of international literary achievement. We have had the pleasure of supporting eclectic branches of literature such as Cuban science-fiction, award-winning fiction and memoir, LGBTQ books, narrative nonfiction, journalism, travel writing, and young people’s literature. Within all of those categories, we always are most interested in publishing works that extend across cultural and linguistic boundaries to entertain our eagerness and passion for new perspectives.
- What publications are being processed for a forthcoming publishment?
This April we will publish The Body Papers — a brilliantly woven memoir of perseverance through the immigrant experience by Filipino writer Grace Talusan, the first nonfiction winner of our Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing — and also The Casket of Time, a fantastical adventure of time travel and environmental calamity, by Icelandic author Andri Snær Magnason.
In the Summer, we will expand our Restless Classics series with two new titles. First, the Three-Hundredth Anniversary Edition of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, illustrated by Eko and newly introduced by Jamaica Kincaid for our globalized, postcolonial era. Also, we will be reacquainting readers with Virginia Woolf’s Night and Day, a timely and overlooked social novel set amidst the struggle for women’s suffrage; which will be re-introduced by bestselling author of Fates and Furies Lauren Groff and illustrated by graphic artist Kristen Radtke.
In July, we are excited to publish a second novel from Brazilian Actress Fernanda Torres, whose debut bestselling novel The End we published in the Summer of 2017. Glory and Its Litany of Horrors, Torres’ second novel, continues in the vein of dark humor but focuses on the hilarity that comes with the art and artifice of acting, so easily co-opted by the market.
In August, September, and October, readers can expect three new titles in our Yonder series devoted to bringing the wealth of great stories from around the globe to English-reading children, middle graders, and young adults. These will include the multilingual picture book, Daniel and Ismail by Juan Pablo Iglesias, illustrated by Alex Peris, Rat Rule 79 by Rivka Galchen, illustrated by Elena Megalos, and The Mermaid in The Bathtub by Nurit Zarchi, illustrated by Ruto Modan.
Finishing off 2019, in October we will be releasing a translated, satirical adaptation of Hamlet called Look Hamlet from the legendary Swedish children’s author Barbro Lindgren. Silence of the Chagos, animating the ongoing struggles of the Chagossian people, will be our last book of the year, from renowned writer and journalist Shenaz Patel.
Also, from our website and online bookstore at restlessbooks.org, you can view our catalog, learn more about our upcoming books, and join our Restless Readers club, through which we’ll send you 6 books a year along with handwritten notes from our editors, surprise galleys, and access to exclusive events.
- Which authors have Restless Books published and why?
Restless champions international and translated literature in new and creative ways. For example, The Face series was started to explore what kind of writing emerges when a diverse group of writers are let loose with the simple direction to write about their own faces. The first three installments, from Ruth Ozeki, Chris Abani, and Tash Aw, signaled a bright start to this nonfiction series; with each author’s distinct style oscillating between philosophic, comedic, poetic, and even political undertones, readers can expect future installments that will continue to illuminate the human experience.
Recently, we have had the pleasure of publishing renowned Peruvian journalist Gabriela Wiener’s Sexographies, translated by Lucy Greaves and Jennifer Adcock. As an author, essayist, poet, editor, and news writer, Weiner has received much attention for her work’s daring and intimate investigation of immigration, maternity, fear of death, ugliness, and even threesomes. Sexographies is a collection unlike many of its kind and genre: it constantly tests the reader through documentation of the body and mind in fierce and voyeuristic ways which capture rapturous, autobiographical moments in places such as the most dangerous Peruvian prison, an erotic film festival, and even the Amazon rainforest.
Ricardo Piglia, the Argentine novelist and giant of contemporary Latin American Literature, is an author whose magnum opus we have begun to introduce to an American audience since his passing in 2017. We have published the first two volumes of The Diaries of Emilio Renzi, translated from the Spanish by Robert Croll, and will release the third in 2020. Piglia wrote these auto-fictional diaries with such a magisterial imagination and, in the process, revealed his alter ego’s life composed over nearly six decades through 327 notebooks — covering an extraordinary life wrought with stories of Latin America’s tumultuous 20th century.
- Which books or authors that Restless Books have previously published have defined the publishing house? Why?
In 2015 we crowdfunded the launch of a 400th-anniversary edition of Don Quixote, which also launched our Restless Classics series. Considering this and the expansion of our publications into print through a distribution partnership with Simon & Schuster the year before, 2014-2015 certainly was a wonderful bedrock for further growth. Earlier in 2015, we also published our first hardcover book, Alejandro Jodorowsky’s magnum opus, Where The Bird Sings Best — a novel from the Chilean director, author, and mystic which received renowned and global praise.
Temporary People was the winner of the inaugural Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant — a prize that we started in 2015 that awards $10,000 and publication to a first-time, first-generation immigrant writer. The book then won the Hindu Prize and was listed as one of the Best Books of 2017 by Booklist, Kirkus, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Also, Naivo’s Beyond The Rice Fields, published in 2017, was particularly exciting because it was the first book from Madagascar ever to be translated into English. This captivating piece of historical fiction uses lyrical twin narratives of a slave and his master’s daughter to examine the brutal history of nineteenth-century Madagascar. We have been very fortunate to have published from places all over the globe such as Cuba, Hungary, Iceland, Nigeria, Chile, Israel, Mexico, India, Uzbekistan, Russia, Pakistan, Poland, Iran, and many more.
- What is the biggest problem that an editor can affront?
Being an international publisher means we never lack for new material: there is literally a world of powerful, artful literary work out there awaiting an English translation and the force of an avid publisher to promote it. More problematic are the trends away from literature in our broader culture: book review sections in newspapers are shutting down, and the pervasiveness of screens in our lives takes our attention away from the page.