Hillman Grad Books, the imprint from screenwriter, producer, and actor Lena Waithe in partnership with independent publisher Zando, has announced its inaugural slate of titles: Ocean’s Godori by Elaine U. Cho, How to Tell When We Will Die by Johanna Hedva, and What I Must Tell The World by Jay Leslie.

Cho’s debut novel Ocean’s Godori was acquired by editor Sareena Kamath in a deal negotiated by Amy Elizabeth Bishop at Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. The novel follows a Korean space pilot striving to find her place within the solar system and is scheduled for publication in April 2024.

Hedva’s How to Tell When We Will Die, an essay collection examining the ways our society both stigmatizes and profits from illness, was acquired by associate editor Caolinn Douglas in a deal negotiated by Clare Mao at Europa Content. Hedva's recent books include Your Love Is Not Good, published in 2023 by And Other Stories, and On Hell, published in 2018 by Two Dollar Radio. How to Tell When We Will Die is slated for publication in September 2024.

Leslie’s What I Must Tell The World, a picture-book biography of Lorraine Hansberry, was acquired by executive editor Tiffany Liao, in a deal negotiated by Wendi Gu of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates/GreenburgerKids. Leslie is a poet, playwright, and author whose previous books include Who Did It First? and Game, Set, Sisters!, published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers in 2020 and 2021, respectively. What I Must Tell the World is slated for publication in November 2024.

“Hillman Grad’s inaugural titles are representative of our mission to create art that redefines the status quo,” said Waithe. “We’re honored to publish Jay, Elaine, and Johanna– they are the perfect writers to introduce Hillman Grad Books to readers. They have produced art that tackles complex issues of identity, community, and resistance, while also being hugely entertaining."

Launched in October 2021, Hillman Grad Books will acquire and publish four to six books over a three-year period.