In the UK, a New Literary Magazine, With International Intent

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The new literary magazine ‘Fictionable’ launches June 27 with short works including graphic fiction and translation.

A detail from the graphic short story ‘Confinement’ by Isabel Greenberg in the opening edition of the UK-based literary magazine ‘Fictionable.’ Image: Provided by Fictionable

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Specially Commissioned Short Fiction’
In England, Richard Lea—whom you may remember as a books editor at the Guardian for 15 years—has alerted Publishing Perspectives to Monday’s opening of his new literary magazine with internationalist ambitions.

Among its backers, it lists Neil Gaiman, Bernardine Evaristo, Kamila Shamsie, Cory Doctorow and publishers including Penguin Random House’s Vintage and Jonathan Cape, and HarperCollins’ Amistad.

Fictionable is described as a quarterly that publishes “specially commissioned short fiction from all over the globe, bringing diverse writers from around the world to a global audience.” The project does intend to widen its footprint, as Lea is quoted saying, having had donors’ crowdfunding support “from Berlin to British Columbia and from Auckland to Paris.”

Lea, now an editor-at-large with Oneworld is joined in producing Fictionable by writer and editor Rachel Aspden and audio producer Esther Opoku Gyeni. References to coming audio elements refer to anticipated author-interview podcasts, still in development. Subscriptions cost £20 per year for four issues (US$24.50). Donors to the crowdfunding appeal—which has raised £15,248 (US18,712)—get their first year’s subscription free for a donation of £15 or more.

The magazine promises a story in translation in each issue and, likewise, a graphic short story every quarter, as well as text entries.

In the Opening Edition of ‘Fictionable’

Contributors to the first edition of ‘Fictionable’ are, upper row from left, Alain Mabanckou (image: Caroline Blanche Pointe); Helen Stevenson; and Isabel Greenberg. And on the lower row, Ladee Hubbard; Sarah Hall; and Owen Booth. Images: Provided by Fictionable

In the first edition being released Monday, the translated entry is a story set in New Orleans, “Mon cousin d’Amérique,” by the Congo-born writer Alain Mabanckou, who teaches literature at UCLA in the States. It’s translated by Helen Stevenson whose own Instructions for Visitors: Life and Love in a French Town (Simon & Schuster, 2018) may ring a bell.

She was longlisted for the 2017 (then-Man) Booker International Prize for her translation of Mabanckou’s Black Moses (Serpent’s Tail, 2017).

Isabel Greenberg is the graphic-story contributor in the first edition, an author of three graphic novels: The Encyclopedia Of Early Earth, The One Hundred Nights Of Hero, and Glass Town. 

In Monday’s inaugural edition, her story is one titled “Confinement,” described as being about “birth and bewitchment.”

Also in the first edition:

  • Sarah Hall with a story of “a woman on the verge of a desperate act.” That one is titled “Be Good”
  • Ladee Hubbard has a story in the first edition titled “Tupperware”
  • Author Owen Booth is represented in the new magazine with “The Things They Don’t Talk About,” described as an examination of male frailty

Authors whose work is to appear in the second edition of the magazine, Lea says, include Maaza Mengiste, Tahmima Anam and Adania Shibli.

A detail from the graphic short story ‘Confinement’ by Isobel Greenberg in the opening edition of the UK-based literary magazine ‘Fictionable.’ Image: Provided by Fictionable

More from Publishing Perspectives on short stories is here, more on literary magazines is here, more on the United Kingdom’s publishing market is here, more on graphic fiction is here, and more on translation is here

More from Publishing Perspectives on the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.