by Kim Callan
In this recent political landscape, it’s sometimes easier to see the bad in the humanity than the good. However, a group of agents from a range of agencies have reached out with some good news. In response to President Trump’s Muslim Ban, agents like Laura Biagi of the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, Melissa Edwards of Stonesong Literary and Celia Gore of Martin Literary Management, have reached out to Muslim writers to share their stories and their voices.
Diversity has been a hot topic in the writing world for a while now and in recent years it has been heating up. There has been a drive to include a larger range of voices and experiences. Many agents, in general, have been asking for diverse writers to submit. Books encourage learning, and learning breeds understanding – books can often reach an audience that words cannot.
This open call is a beacon of hope for a group currently under stress from the government. Through the call, these agents hope to bring more voices into the book world. They want to allow a group currently hushed to share their voices.
“This is our open call for stories that will bring increased understanding, tolerance, empathy and compassion in the world.” (quote from the agents, originally in Publishers Weekly).
The decision spread over social media throughout the week, gaining attention among the many literary groups. On sites like Twitter, people spread the word to writers and agents alike; and friends encouraged both friends and strangers to submit in these times. Others on social media are calling for more agents, like those who represent non-fiction, to join in.
While twelve agents initially started the call, the word spread quickly across social media and many others have joined the group. There are now seventy-five agents involved in the open call. While the agents involved cover a range of genres, many of those who have joined represent young adult, teen and children’s fiction. Genres like these have always been held with a certain regard: entertain as well as educate. It is important to reach out to children and teens to show that there is beautiful diversity in the world. Hopefully, these agents, writers and books can become a beacon of hope in the years to come.
The agents who began the call as listed by Publishers Weekly: Laura Biagi of the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency; Melissa Edwards of Stonesong Literary; Caitie Flum and Jennifer Johnson-Blalock of Liza Dawson Associates; Lilly Ghahremani of Full Circle Literary; Clelia Gore of Martin Literary Management; Tricia Lawrence and Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency, Carrie Pestritto, Kirsten Carleston, and Becca Stumpf of the Prospect Agency, and Cindy Uh of the Thompson Literary Agency.
Celia Gore of Martin Literary Management has set up a complete list on her website.