In an effort to find works by new and diverse authors, independent publishing house Polis Books is launching Agora Books, a diversity-focused imprint devoted to crime and noir fiction.
Polis Books founder Jason Pinter said the new imprint will launch with three titles in fall 2019, and eventually publish six to 10 titles a year.
The new imprint will be directed by Chantelle Aimée Osman, who has been named editor of Agora Books. Osman is the former editor-in-chief of RT Book Reviews Magazine, cohost of the Crime Fiction podcast, and the author of a variety of short fiction and nonfiction works.
Pinter said Osman will acquire “about 75% of the Agora list and I’ll do the rest.”
The first three titles to be released from Agora in 2019 will be Three-Fifths by John Vercher, the story of a biracial man who discovers a childhood friend has become a neo-nazi; Remember by Patricia Smith, a novel about woman forced to reconcile with a painful past; and The Ninja Daughter by Tori Eldridge, the tale of a woman who dedicates herself to becoming a modern day ninja after the murder of her sister.
Pinter said the launch of Agora Books—agora means open forum—is an effort to “focus on crime novels that delve into the most important issues of our time.” Agora, he said, will offer a diverse roster of authors, whose books will explore “culture, gender, sexuality, society, economy, and politics.”
All of the initial three Agora titles are debut authors, Osman said. She added “crime fiction has always shined a light on society and culture and if we’re ignoring some writers, we’re losing the backbone of the genre.”
Pinter explained that the new imprint is a response to “a movement within the crime fiction community to appeal to and publish more diverse authors and voices.” A broad discussion around diversity in crime fiction, he said, “was the most talked about subject at this year’s Bouchercon,” the annual crime and mystery literary festival.
Crime fiction, he said “has been far too homogeneous for far too long.”
Corrections: an earlier version of this story had errors in the description of one of the titles and also misspelled an author's name.