A year ago today, on October 15, 2013, Restless Books launched its first digital titles. We believed then—and still do now—that the crisis in which American publishing finds itself can be partly attributed to the self-imposed narrowness of its scope: the limitations of churning out more of what is expected, culturally center, and safe. We have a higher regard than that for readers’ hunger and curiosity. Our mission is to bring a richer diet of international literature to readers, stories from outside traditional publishing’s mainstream that urgently need to be told and shared. Restless Books grew out of a desire to reclaim a sense of what it means to be restless—“stirring constantly, desirous of action.” We wanted to signal our curiosity about the world, our eagerness to explore outside the reassuring confines of the familiar.
Our office in Brooklyn is brewing with the ideas of our stellar, entrepreneurial, young staff. We have published fiction, poetry, memoirs, journalism, and graphic novels by authors from Cuba, Uzbekistan, Chile, Nigeria, China, Pakistan, Israel, Iran, Mexico, and Poland. We have done so with the help of an extraordinarily talented pool of translators. Our series The Face, in which notable writers explore the meaning of their own faces, as well as Restless Women Travelers, featuring an assortment of classic and contemporary accounts by women exploring the vastness of the globe, have been extraordinarily well received. We have begun to release never-before-translated canonical titles of science fiction from Cuba, an island where the future has been experienced very differently in the last fifty years.
We have also started Restless Español, serving a Spanish-language audience eager to access first-rate literature. With a population of almost sixty million, Latinos in the United States are already the largest minority in the nation, one defined not only by its own language but also by its multifaceted mestizo culture. Restless Español seeks to feed the vanguard of this cultural transformation.
Wonderful accounts of our efforts have been published in The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The New York Times Magazine, VICE, NPR, Foreign Affairs, and elsewhere. Our vibrant website has become a meeting place for conversation and discussion with literature fans all over the world.
A digital-first publisher, we’re now moving into print as well, and we’ve made a distribution agreement with Regan Arts and Simon & Schuster that will enable us to reach a far wider audience. Our first distributed print title will be a hardcover edition of Where the Bird Sings Best, the autobiographical novel from iconic film director and cult guru Alejandro Jodorowsky. Famous among film buffs and outsider artists for his epic cinematic visions like The Holy Mountain and El Topo, Jodorowsky is also a staple of Latin American literature, his books prominently displayed in bookstores from Mexico to Argentina. Like his most recent film, The Dance of Reality, Where the Bird Sings Best tells the story of Jodorowsky’s Jewish immigrant family in such a vividly imagined way that it will transform the way you look at the world.
Around the world, most literature—from Cervantes to Stieg Larsson—is read in translation. We’re publishing the classics of tomorrow. A democratic, pluralistic society can only exist in a state of constant curiosity, with an open dialogue among its various constituencies, and—equally important—by continuing to build bridges with other societies. As we proudly enter our second year of publishing, Restless will remain true to its name by continuing to transport readers to other worlds, making us all more sensitive to the truths others live by.
In 2015, we will broaden our ambit—and ambition—with wonderful books from Mexico, India, Hungary, Spain, and France while expanding our list of Cuban Science Fiction, The Face, and Restless Women Travelers titles. In the lineup are an overlooked classic collection of historical novellas from Israeli author Shulamith Hareven, a stunning first novel in English from the Mexican rising star Carlos Velázquez, an epic tale of the tumultuous first century A.D. between the year of Christ’s death and the outbreak of the Jewish War called Captivity, by Hungarian author György Spiró, and new books by Restless favorites Musharraf Ali Farooqi, Hamid Ismailov, Paco Ignacio Taibo II, and Kira Salak.
We hope you’ll join us in these adventures.
Publisher, Restless Books