A number of American literary agents have put out a collective open call for submissions by Muslim writers following President Trump’s “travel ban”.
Last week, Trump issued an executive order suspending refugee admission to the US and restricting immigration from seven Muslim countries - Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
In a statement posted on Seattle-based literary agent Clelia Gore’s website, the agents spoke of feeling "shocked and saddened" at the events that followed Trump's executive order.
“The messages of fear and discrimination against Muslims within this country and to those outside its borders are not ones that reflect our own beliefs and understanding", the agents said. "As a result, we are taking action by encouraging submissions from writers of Muslim heritage for children’s and adult fiction and nonfiction books. This is our open call for stories that will bring increased understanding, tolerance, empathy and compassion in the world."
The agents involved include 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.
The ban has prompted a similar response from independent publishers, three of whom have been “spurred on” to continue producing works from the affected countries.
Not-for-profit publisher Comma Press and specialist Arabic presses Saqi Books and Darf Publishers intend to scale up their publishing output by focusing on underrepresented writers, particularly from the Middle East and North Africa, The Bookseller reported on Tuesday (31st January).
Meanwhile, Pearson chief executive John Fallon branded the travel ban policy "deeply worrying". In a company-wide email, Fallon condemned the order for creating "uncertainty and confusion about the status of millions of US green card holders, foreign employees of businesses, and foreign students", and offered "all possible assistance" to affected employees, although he added Pearson was still determining the impact of the policy on staff.
E-commerce company Amazon has also said it will fund a legal challenge against the ban on behalf of its employees in the US and around the world who could be affected.