5 New Literary Publications to Watch


If you’re worrying about the health of new literary projects: don’t. Although it may seem as if we’re stuck with the perpetual reinvention of old institutions (and there’s nothing exactly wrong with that), things are, in reality, speeding along quite nicely when it comes to new, literary quality publications. There are so many tantalizing forthcoming (and just-begun) projects, in fact, with a variety of refreshing approaches, that we put together this primer to get you ready. These publications promise to deliver the best personal and literary essays, poetry, interviews, and academic writing.


John Freeman was the president of the National Book Critics Circle before he left for London to edit Granta. More recently, he was the author of How to Read a Novelist, an excellent collection of interviews with authors like Philip Roth and Marilynne Robinson. Last month, Freeman published Tales of Two Cities (with OR Books), one of the best recent essay collections on New York City. He is, in other words, a busy guy. His next project is Freeman’s, an anthology-style publication born of a partnership between Grove/Atlantic and the New School. From what we know now, it will publish twice a year, and its ideal readers, Freeman says, are “people who are curious, crazed for fiction, morally engaged, disturbed by the status quo, and who want a reliable guide for the best writers alive.”

The Butter

A dream team collaboration between The Toast and the infinite Roxane Gay, The Butter, according to The Toast’s co-founder Mallory Ortberg, will be “WHATEVER ROXANE WANTS IT TO BE.” More specifically, according to Gay, The Butter will “focus on cultural criticism and personal essays that make readers think and feel.” It’s hard to imagine a better collaboration, or a better editor, for essays and criticism in 2015 and beyond.


Prelude is a promising new poetry publication “unofficially” linked to n+1 magazine. Founded by Rob Crawford, Frank Guan, and Stu Watson, it promises to deliver on several things, in no particular order:

1. “To present the full panoply of poetic diversity currently happening around the world…”

2. “To promote diversely powerful poems of aesthetic and political merit…”

3. To present “works from a variety of aesthetic traditions with the only unifying criteria being that these pieces seek to engage with the political realities of contemporary life.”

Sounds good! The first issue will feature Ariana Reines, John Ashbery, Ann Lauterbach, Chris Hosea, Rebecca Wolff, John Kinsella, Jenny Zhang, and others.

The Happy Reader

A forthcoming collaboration between Penguin and “the brains behind Fantastic Man,” The Happy Reader represents an altogether new concept. The first half of the magazine will feature a long-form interview with a “notable book fanatic,” and the second half will dig in to a single classic of literature by way of film, fashion, lifestyle, history, and more.

Public Books

A well-edited and exciting site that features writing from academics both young and tenured, Public Books avoids the pitfalls of most academic writing with its range and quality. A look at the current issue will show you that it covers “The Salinger Riddle” as deftly as it does “The Piketty Effect.” This, to my mind, is the preferable direction for accessible writing from academics, away from the madness of BuzzAdemia.