Erika Goldman, Publisher and Editorial Director of Bellevue Literary Press (photo: Charles Giraudet)
Our publisher spotlight for March is on Bellevue Literary Press, an independent press dedicated to literature at the intersection of art and science, fostering a rich dialogue between disciplines. We spoke with them about what this means as a publisher and as a community, and the ability of remarkable writing to create audience, community, and conversation through sheer artistry.
Mary Rose Manspeaker: What sets you apart as an independent press?
Erika Goldman: We self-describe as publishing athe intersection of the arts and sciences and are interested in bringing those “two cultures” into conversation with one another.
MRM: Where do your books sit within the broad conversation of independent literature?
EG: I see the “broad conversation of independent literature” as a joyous cacophony that we’re privileged to participate in. Every independent publisher has its own history, sensibility, and quirks; our books feature a wide range of voices that address many specific pressing questions of the moment as well as timeless and universal ones. Each one speaks for itself.
MRM: What do your editors look for when considering a manuscript, as a press devoted to addressing the “big questions,” and to exploring the intersection of art and science?
EG: We’re on the lookout for books of artistry and substance and writing that comes alive on the page.
MRM: Can you speak a bit about Bellevue Literary Press’s commitment to community education initiatives? How has this connected you to the NYC community and beyond, and what does that mean to the press? How does this aspect interact with your editorial vision?
EG: We believe that great literature can open hearts and minds. What can be more important for bringing communities together than the empathy fostered through the act of reading? We’ve seen the impact that our books can have on students as well as thought leaders. Most recently, THE BEAR by Andrew Krivak was announced as a selection of the 2022-2023 NEA Big Read program, and we’re eager to see how it will inspire discussion in a wide variety of community contexts across the country.
MRM: You describe physicians, medical students, and medical school faculty as an important sector of your audience. How does having such a specific audience in mind for your work effect how you operate, and the community that has grown around the press and its titles?
EG: We always start with the writing itself—be it fiction or nonfiction. Of course we must envision a potential readership for any given book before we can send it out into the world, but we’ve seen literature bring people together. When Paul Harding appeared at a session of NYU’s Grand Rounds to discuss TINKERS, students and faculty alike were stunned by his powerful depiction of an epileptic seizure in the book. That’s a case of remarkable writing speaking for itself and creating community through sheer artistry.
…the “broad conversation of independent literature” [is] a joyous cacophony that we’re privileged to participate in.
MRM: How have you adapted to the COVID pandemic landscape, and what are your goals for the future? Have the past two years changed your outlook?
EG: This COVID period has been tough on everyone—not only in our sector, but throughout the entire economy, around the world. We’re lucky enough to have been able to work well remotely and hold our publishing schedule. Our goals for the future are to be able to sustain our operations and keep publishing!
MRM: What would you say is the most important aspect and outcome of supporting independent presses and bookstores? Of bolstering the literary arts?
EG: While independent bookstores and presses are subject to the same economic forces that corporate ones are, we’re more likely to be passion and mission driven and deeply committed to the literary arts. Supporting us supports that energy and ethos–and makes things possible that just don’t happen in a profit-driven context.
MRM: Tell us about your most recently publications and what’s in the works—feel free to plug your books!
EG: You can find all the latest, including info on our upcoming books, on our website: www.blpress.org. And if you like what you see, please sign up for our newsletters. I hope you’ll give our books a chance to speak for themselves!