The world of book publishing is overwhelmingly White but one brother is, bit by bit, shining a light on a plethora of multicultural books. And with the new appointment of Chris Jackson as the Vice President, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of new-old Random House imprint One World, even more multiculti books of import are sure to enter your local bookstore or online retailer.
Jackson is a rare bird because of his background and understanding of how to take Black stories and turn them into something that the entire market should – and could – appreciate. He worked with Beyonce and Jay-Z on “Decoded,” and he also brought Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me” to life and to sell. Jackson comes to re-launch One World after having overseen publishing at Speigal and Grau, a publisher of high end, art house books.
Literary folk know that Jackson knows how to pick ’em. From Edwidge Danticat to Aaron McGruder to Victor LaValle, the editor has an eye for great stories and how said stories will be accepted by the larger book-buying population.
One World has published Bebe Moore Campbell, Colin Channer and Johnnie L. Cochran Jr. You might also know the imprint if you bought a reprint of “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.” The publisher will continue its history of working with black cultured texts. He tells Publishers Weekly that the imprint will “explore ideas that help us re-imagine our politics, culture, and interior lives, without the filter of the dominant culture.” He continued: “That kind of vision remains a radical and vital one today. I’m thrilled we’ll be reanimating that idea and expanding its possibilities to capture the world in its fullness for this moment.”
That Jackson now has complete charge of an imprint is a very good thing. As The New York Times Magazine’s Vinson Cunningham put it, “He stands between the largely White culture-making machinery and artists writing from the margins of society, as well as between the work of those writers and the largely White critical apparatus that dictates their success, in both cases saying: This, believe it or not, is something you need to hear.”
And Jackson is someone you need to know.
Adrienne Samuels Gibbs is a Chicago-based writer. Follow her @adriennewrites.
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Senior Editor, EBONY Magazine