ENTERTAINMENT

Dozens Of Literary Agents Release Open Call For Muslim Authors

10/02/2017 07:38 SAST | Updated 10/02/2017 07:43 SAST

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“We hope there will be books published that might not have been published before,” said literary agent Cindy Uh.

While President Donald Trump tries to block individuals from certain Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., dozens of book publishers have found a creative way to clap back at Islamophobia.

A group of nearly 80 literary agents released an open call for submissions from Muslim authors, aiming to "seek out unheard voices so that others can hear them."

"We all agree that the current political climate demands a need for a greater presence of authors of Muslim heritage in the book marketplace," the agents wrote in their open call. "We are taking action to help make that happen."

Cindy Uh of Thompson Literary and Clelia Gore of Martin Literary Management are spearheading the effort. The idea came to them shortly after Trump signed an executive order last month, halting refugee resettlement and temporarily banning individuals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., Uh told The Huffington Post.

"We're both former lawyers," Uh said. "So short of showing up at the airport like many lawyers have done, we wanted to find something we could do as agents."

"It's what I like to call showing up in our day-to-day lives," she added.

The pair sent a press release to Publishers Weekly and started emailing fellow publishers to invite them to sign on. Within days, more than 70 agents had joined the call to encourage Muslim authors to submit their manuscripts.

"The response has been really overwhelming. It felt really fulfilling that all these other agents stepped up and joined us to say, 'Your voices aren't just welcome but wanted,'" Uh told HuffPost.

A federal judge suspended Trump's order, and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is expected to release a decision in the upcoming days on whether the suspension will remain in place.

But the ban has already taken its toll, and it appears to be indicative of a larger climate of Islamophobia that's become all too common in the U.S. The Trump administration has revoked tens of thousands of visas held by people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen ― all Muslim-majority countries.

More broadly, anti-Muslim sentiment and attacks have spiked in recent months. And American attitudes toward Islam continue to be generally hostile, according to polls.

The publishing world has a role to play in reversing this trend, Uh said.

"It's our duty as literary agents to promote diversity in books," she told HuffPost. And that goes for writers of color in general, as well as Muslims in particular.

The agent said she wasn't sure how many submissions have come in so far across the 70-some publishers. But she personally has received nearly a dozen manuscripts from Muslim authors since posting the open call.

"We hope there will be books published that might not have been published before," Uh said.