"We should support the NEA because it supports what we don't yet know we want to read. You should also buy more weird books, especially from Sarabande."
For more than twenty years Sarabande has received generous funding from the National Endowment for the Arts in support of our publishing and educational programming. Each year, a handful of our titles receive special, earmarked funding from the NEA. Ander Monson's books, Other Electricities and The Available World, were both made possible through NEA grants. Here's Ander Monson on his experience publishing with Sarabande:
“After graduate school I spent a couple years trying to find a publisher for my first book Other Electricities. It wasn't a book that fit too obviously in any genre. It had a murder in it, but it also had these weird radio schematics and a bunch of lists. The agents and publishers I sent it to returned it in confusion, saying, oh it's too lyric or weird or too smart, too literary, too much like poetry, too visual, too unlike other things they'd read, too too too too too. I had called it "fiction," "poetry," and "nonfiction," and sent it to literary contests, none of which it won.
"So when Sarabande picked it up it felt like it was rescued from oblivion. It was clear that here was a small press—a very lovely small press—that finally understood what this thing was, or at the very least cared a whole lot less about what it wasn't. On publication it did well. It didn't look or read like most other books. It was a finalist for the New York Public Library's Young Lions prize, the ceremony for which featured Ethan Hawke vastly mispronouncing my name and, after, my stepmother, enraged, ripping a thread out of his finely tailored suit.
"That the book found readers in spite of what it wasn't is a wonder. Maybe it found readers because of what it wasn't and then also what it was, which was a weird little book. Sarabande got that, and because they had funding from the NEA, I like to think they felt emboldened to take a chance on the sort of thing they hadn't seen before.
"I often get questions about what the role of experimental literature is. I always wonder what that means: what literature—or art of any value—isn't experimental? What writer just wants to write something just like something else they just read before? The NEA helps presses like Sarabande publish weird books. The NEA helps writers write those weird books. The NEA helps readers get access to weird books. We should support the NEA because it supports what we don't yet know we want to read. You should also buy more weird books, especially from Sarabande.”
Learn more about Sarabande's partnership with the NEA and how you can help #SavetheNEA on our website.