John Murray Publishers is to launch a new list this year, focussing on “fresh and distinctive writing” and books that “provoke and entertain”.
JM Originals will publish its first two titles in July, and is today opening a competition to the public to launch the covers for the books.
The list will be mostly fiction, but will sometimes publish literary non-fiction.
John Murray editorial director Mark Richards said of the list: “It’s a space where risks can be taken and hunches can be backed, because literary careers make sense over the long term, and it is more vital than ever that we support the writers we believe in.”
The first of the two launch titles is An Account of the Decline of the Great Auk, According to the One Who Saw It, a collection of stories by Jessie Greengrass (pictured).
Richards acquired world rights in the book from Jack Ramm at Eve White.
He said: “We all know how hard collections of stories are to publish, but when you come across one as good as Jessie’s, you don’t care.
“From the first story I read – now the title story which tells in five brief but startling pages of the violent, occasionally funny and certainly tragic extinction of the Great Auk – I knew I wanted to publish her. She is unlike almost anyone else writing in Britain today, a true original.”
The second launch title is Generation, a debut novel by Paula McGrath, which Richards acquired world rights in from Ger Nichol of the Book Bureau Literary Agency.
Richards said: “Generation is a short novel that contains a huge amount. It takes place over three continents and three generations, and shows how the repercussions of decisions taken by parents play out in the lives of their children.
“Like Donal Ryan’s The Spinning Heart, it is told from a revolving perspective, as one character picks up the thread from another.
“It is ambitious and gripping, formally inventive but always approachable.”
Both titles will be published on 30th July as £10.99 trade paperbacks with flaps.
John Murray Publishers has launched a competition to design the covers of the first two titles, with the closing date for entries Saturday 31st January.
Briefs are on its website.