Born Again: The Re-launching of Slant Books

Dear Friends and Interested Observers:

I am beyond thrilled to announce that Slant Books, the imprint I’ve overseen for the last few years, is being re-launched as a full-time, full-tilt literary publishing venture. What has been a beloved side-project, featuring just one or two books a year—primarily novels—is about to grow into an ambitious program of literary publishing across all the genres: novels, yes, but also short story, essay, and poetry collections, creative nonfiction of all stripes, including memoir, literary and cultural criticism, and more.

The longer I reflect on this turn of events, the more I realize that focusing on books is a natural, evolutionary step for me. I began my career in the world of journals and magazines—periodicals will always remain my first love. But even as I came to maturity admiring T.S. Eliot’s journal, The Criterion, I also fell in love with what he did as an editor at Faber & Faber. Those twin loves have continued on a parallel course over the years: just as I’ve followed The Paris Review and Ploughshares, so I have appreciated the literary legacy of major institutions like Farrar, Straus & Giroux and the smaller literary presses, such as Graywolf, Sarabande, Tupelo, and their ilk.

The prospect of going from editing four issues of a journal per year to directing the publication of twenty to thirty books in the same time span is both daunting and energizing. In for a penny, in for a pound!

I will be joined in this endeavor by my partner in literature, as in life: my wife, the novelist Suzanne M. Wolfe, who becomes Senior Editor.

One of the most attractive aspects of this ramped-up publishing schedule is that it will offer me a larger canvas on which to assemble the whole range of themes and approaches that fire my imagination, from the intersection of art and faith to the leitmotif of my vocation: promoting the resurgence of the tradition known as Christian Humanism. I look forward to sharing that vision with you in greater detail in the coming years.

To be clear: though I have theological interests, Slant will not restrict itself to books with explicitly religious concerns. The sky’s the limit in terms of subject and context.

The republic of letters is threatened by an array of social and cultural factors today. Above all, our North American culture’s tendency to slide into politicization and moralism imperils literary art by forcing it into didacticism and allegory. This reminds me of a famous statement by Alexander Solzhenitsyn:

“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”

Great literature lives along that ambiguous fault line, as willing to self-incriminate as to castigate the sins and follies of others. That is the sort of writing that Slant will seek out and publish.

Ultimately, as a publisher and editor my mission has been to serve writers—discovering them, working with them to achieve their potential, and then sharing their work with the world in publications whose production values bespeak the value of what they contain. I’ve derived equal satisfaction from publishing world-class writers like Annie Dillard and Richard Rodriguez and those who are just getting started in their writing careers.

As I’ve had occasion to say recently, I’m as proud of Slant’s publication of Throw, Rubén Degollado’s debut novel, as I am of anything I’ve ever had the honor to bring into print.

We’ll be kicking off the re-launch of Slant with the acclaimed novelist Ron Hansen’s Hotly in Pursuit of the Real, his profound and witty reflections on faith, fiction, Jesuits, and playing golf in bad weather.

We’re also contemplating sponsoring seminars and workshops for aspiring writers and editors. Stay tuned!

It’s well-known that huge, paradigm-shifting changes in technology, access, and marketing have forced the book publishing industry to find new ways to survive and, God willing, thrive. Again, I’m far from pessimistic: electronic books have not vanquished print books—and the need for thoughtful curation is even more necessary in an age of self-publishing.

Slant would not be possible without the energy, vision, and trust shown on a daily basis by my colleagues at Wipf & Stock. I’m grateful to the entire staff there, but in particular to Jon Stock, Jimmy Stock, and Jim Tedrick—the Three J’s—for their friendship and their willingness to take risks.

I look forward to re-connecting with the literary community I’ve been privileged to serve over many years. A lot of terrific books will soon be coming your way. I’m eager to see how they seek to tell the truth…in slantendicular fashion, of course.

Spread the word.


You can find the official press release announcing all this here.

If you’ll be attending the AWP convention later this month, stop by the Slant/W&S booth!

Here’s a link to a short video of me explaining the name “Slant.”

The Slant website (soon to be re-launched as well) is here.

To learn how to submit your book proposal to Slant, go here.