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Slant Books: A New Chapter

Dear Friends of Slant Books:

It is with great pleasure that we announce that Slant has become a fully independent, not-for-profit press. We’re marking the occasion with a brand-new logo design!

We are eager to launch into this new chapter in our story, but first a word of explanation.

After the events of the past two years, many of us across North America recognize that now is the time to rebuild our common life—through renewed commitments to shared narratives, reflective discourse, and the use of literature and the arts for life-giving purposes. Constructing this new community together demands literature and art that speak to the mystery and beauty of creation—in an era too often characterized by ideology and reductive rhetoric.

What brought us to this organizational decision? Slant faces a situation akin to our colleagues in newspapers, magazines, and public media, who have seen a dramatic change in their traditional revenue models. This in turn led them to seek support from individual donors and philanthropic foundations, and—in the process—generate new, innovative services and memberships. Wipf and Stock, Slant’s parent, could no longer sustain our operations in a way that would ensure the continued fulfillment of our modest mission—which, as our readers know, involves a commitment to careful editing, world-class design, and high production values—commitments that require intense effort and that most precious of all resources, time.

We remain extraordinarily grateful to the entire staff of Wipf and Stock for their support over the past eight years, not to mention their generosity in helping us launch out on our own. There is no way we could have achieved our already considerable track record without their belief in our mission.

The name we have given to the non-profit organization responsible for Slant is “The Republic of Letters.” Last week I wrote a post that delved into the historical background of this phrase as well as the principles that it stands for. We hope you will take a moment to read that piece—and adopt the vision of “The Republic of Letters” as your own.

So what’s ahead for Slant? A great deal.

We’re off and running with the publication next month of two important books—books that partake of our literary concerns while also demonstrating Slant’s engagement with important new works in contemporary thought.

  • Shakeshafte and Other Plays – Gathered together for the first time, these three plays by Rowan Williams—known throughout the world not only as a religious leader and theologian but also as a poet and critic—explore the inner life of words and images. The title play envisions a meeting between a young Will Shakespeare and the Jesuit Edmund Campion, who would soon meet his martyrdom.
  • The Meaning of Birth – In 1980, two men sit down to record a conversation. They have much in common: both are passionate, articulate thinkers. But their differences are just as striking: Giovanni Testori is a well-known writer—and an openly gay man. Luigi Giussani is a Catholic priest. They begin with a provocative suggestion: modern people have lost contact with the existential and religious experience of birth, of an origin in love—the love of one’s parents and the love of God. From here, the dialogue ranges widely, taking on the root causes of modern despair and alienation, the link between suffering and hope, the significance of memory, and what it means to encounter the presence of God in one another.

One other note about The Meaning of Birth: it signifies an important new commitment on the part of Slant to seek out works in other languages, ensure they are translated well, and make them available to readers around the world.

Next year will see a slate of diverse, beautifully crafted books in a variety of genres. Some of the titles you’ll be seeing from us include:

  • Jonathan Geltner, Absolute Music (novel)
  • Paul Mariani, First Light Last (poetry)
  • Bret Lott, Cherries on the Golan, Olives in Jerusalem (memoir/essay)
  • Robert Cording, A Prayer for the Praise of God (poetry/memoir)
  • Daniel Taylor, The Mystery of Iniquity (novel)
  • Morgan Meis, The Fate of the Animals (philosophy/art)
  • Nance Van Winkel, Little Ends (memoir)
  • Amit Majmudar, Twin A: A Memoir (memoir)
  • Jeanne Murray Walker, Leaping from the Burning Train (essays)
  • Jaroslaw Marek Rymkiewicz, Kinderszenen (memoir)

Word is getting out. In just the last couple years, Slant titles have been reviewed in such publications as America, Art in America, Christian Century, Commonweal, First Things, Harvard Review, The Independent (UK), Kirkus, Los Angeles Review of Books, Missouri Review, Ploughshares, and University Bookman.

We have won awards from Christianity Today and a translation grant from the Polish Book Institute. Above all, some of the world’s finest authors are entrusting us with the sort of highly-crafted writing that can only be generated with great labor and care. We plan to do everything in our power to merit that confidence as we move into the future.

We want you to stay in touch. Our occasional e-newsletter, SlantWise, which has been on hiatus while we were preparing for this transition, will resume shortly. Please use the form in the right-hand column to be sure you get all the latest news about our new titles. Or click here to subscribe.

Twice a week (on Mondays and Thursdays) we offer blog posts from a variety of regular and guest posters on a range of literary topics, combining elements of the personal essay with explorations of how literary craft discovers—and communicates—meaning. The title of the blog says it all: Close Reading.

As a friend of Slant and its leadership, you’ve shown your commitment to our mission to ensure that new and vibrant literature takes its place within the humanist tradition. We now ask your partnership in providing launch support as we establish our new operations on a sound footing. Can we confirm your pledge of $50 to $5000? Alternately, we hope you will consider a monthly pledge. To support our work, click here.

Most vitally, we need your ideas, involvement, and enthusiasm. Connect with us through social media. Watch out for readings we’ll be holding—over the internet and soon, we hope, in person. We love hearing from you, the best sort of people—close readers and active citizens of The Republic of Letters.