Comma Press to Translate Only Authors from ‘Banned’ Nations in 2018 and Other #LIISSSY Disruptions

Presses shifting gears, agents inviting submissions from Muslim writers, at least one author turning down invitations to come to the US, and other #LIISSSY disruptions:

commaAward-winnning former UK children’s-literature laureate Marjorie Blackman has turned down all invitations to come to events in the US. Blackman issued her announcement over Twitter on Saturday night, according to The Guardian: “Thank you to all those who have invited me to various US lit fests/events, but I won’t be visiting the US any time soon.”

As Anealla Safdar reported in Al Jazeera, others, including Syrian Khaled Akil, whose work is being exhibited in California, joined artists protesting discriminatory travel ban.

This came as Comma Press publisher Ra Page announced his house would translate only writers from the countries affected by the ban — Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, or #LIISSSY —  on Tuesday. The decision, according to The Guardian, was made at an emergency editorial meeting on Monday.

“If the only narrative America wants to export right now is the narrative of hate, then we need to look elsewhere,” Page told The Guardian. “We need to consciously turn our backs on the circus that America is descending into. We need to fight this. And make no mistake it will be a fight.”

Comma Press already has published a number of short-story collections that feature #LIISSSY authors, including Book of Khartoum, Iraq + 100, and Hassan Blasim’s two short-story collections, translated by Jonathan Wright.

Also the Muslim Writers Club announced that Cindy Uh, a senior literary agent with Thompson Literary Agency, and Clelia Gore of Martin Literary Management issued a statement of support that begins:

In response to President Trump’s “Muslim ban” targeting refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, literary agents from Seattle to New York City have come together to announce an open call for submissions by Muslim writers (

You can read all of it at the Muslim Writers Club.

The publisher Saqi Books — which brought out Syria Speaks, ed. by Malu Halasa, Zaher Omareen and Nawara Mahfoud — announced its plans for a satirical collection called Don’t Panic, I’m Islamic in 2017. According to The Guardian, it will feature contributions from writers, comedians and cartoonists from around the world.

Asymptote Editor-in-Chief Lee Yew Leong also announced Tuesday that the magazine was “brewing a Special Feature on Literature from Banned Nations—just announced in this week’s Translation Tuesday showcase that I curate for The Guardian.Also Tuesday, they published two poems by acclaimed Syrian poet Ghayath al-Madhoun, trans. Catherine Cobham.

The Asymptote statement:

Shaken by the developments coming out of America in the past few days, we at Asymptote have been working around the clock to try to fundraise for a Special Feature spotlighting new writing from the seven banned countries in our next issue, in an attempt to offer a high-profile platform for those newly affected by the fallout of those developments. If you are an author who identifies as being from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen (or someone who translates such authors)—and would like to submit work for consideration, please get in touch at

Other translators, librarians, and activists used Twitter to reach out. Translator-activist Elisabeth Jaquette announced on Twitter that she was interested in putting together a short-story collection featuring authors from the seven banned countries and librarian Kathleen McKim was curating lists of #LIISSSY authors for students and fellow librarians.

1 Comment

  1. It’s heartening and humbling to see the positive responses, but so horrifying that the responses are required. Thanks for bringing all the information together here – now I know what to look for in the next year or so!

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