Mensah Demary, who was promoted to editor-in-chief at Soft Skull Press to replace Yuka Igarashi, begins his new position today.
Not only is he “energized,” Demary told PW, to concentrate his energy upon “a venerated literary press,” but he has a clear vision for the direction in which he wants to take the press. Demary wants to “evolve Soft Skull Press from its present form while operating in a unique space within independent publishing,” as elsewhere in the publishing industry, consolidation accelerates.
“We will directly compete with bigger publishers for new talent and highly sought-after writers,” Demary wrote in an email, “Soft Skull will transform into an inviting, liberating house for literary artists seeking support for their fiction, nonfiction, and poetry titles as cool, refined, and radical works of art. We will publish an increasingly diverse list of authors — those here in New York, throughout America, and around the world — including, but not limited to, Black literary writers who might be too risky for the bigger presses, but will find a home with us as new Soft Skull authors.”
Andy Hunter, Catapult co-founder and publisher , described Soft Skull Press as having experienced “years of growth and critical acclaim” under Igarashi’s leadership, including this past year, when Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda (translated from Japanese by Polly Barton), was named one of Time magazine's best 10 fiction books of 2020. While sorry to lose Igarashi to Graywolf, Hunter praised Demary for “his incredible range” as an editor, “adroitly handling material ranging from the experimental Shelley Jackson to François Clemmons' autobiography, Officer Clemmons.” Even more important, Hunter noted, “Demary has an inspiring vision for the future of Soft Skull Press that will keep it relevant, dynamic, and pushing the boundaries of contemporary literature.”
Demary was hired as an associate web editor at Catapult in 2015 when the online magazine launched. After Soft Skull and Counterpoint Press merged with Catapult in 2016, Demary became book editor for both Catapult’s book publishing and magazine divisions. He was promoted to executive editor last year, acquiring titles across all three imprints.