Pub­lish­ing Books About Grief

Poets and Writers - - Trends - –GILA LYONS

One of the most painful as­pects of grief is how iso­lated one can feel when ex­pe­ri­enc­ing it. Lit­er­a­ture has of­ten com­forted the be­reaved, pro­vided so­lace and wis­dom to those suf­fer­ing, and aided read­ers in the painstak­ing jour­ney of re­cov­ery. To en­sure that this con­tin­ues, Akashic Books, an in­de­pen­dent pub­lisher based in Brook­lyn, New York, has cre­ated an im­print es­pe­cially for books fo­cused on grief, loss, and re­cov­ery.

Best-sell­ing au­thor Ann Hood will head the new im­print, named Gra­cie Belle, af­ter Hood’s daugh­ter, who died at age five and is the sub­ject of her mem­oir Com­fort: A Jour­ney Through Grief (Nor­ton, 2008). Hood, who has taught writ­ing for many years and in June launched a low-res­i­dency MFA pro­gram at Salve Regina Uni­ver­sity in Newport, Rhode Is­land, no­ticed that many of her writ­ing stu­dents had ex­cel­lent manuscripts about grief, loss, and re­cov­ery but weren’t able to find a pub­lisher for them. “The re­jec­tions pretty much said that it’s just too sad and no one will want to read them,” Hood says. “Well, of course it’s sad— but I think a good grief mem­oir not only helps oth­ers who are suf­fer­ing loss, but also gives hope that they can get to the other side.”

Hood says that most ti­tles about grief on the mar­ket are writ­ten by health-care pro­fes­sion­als and serve more as self-help guides and re­sources for read­ers look­ing for tools to cope. Gra­cie Belle’s books, mean­while, will con­sist of good nar­ra­tive writ­ing about what grief feels like. “These are sto­ries of sur­vival and in­cred­i­ble spir­i­tual and psy­cho­log­i­cal re­silience,” says Johnny Tem­ple, Akashic’s pub­lisher and editor in chief. “An au­di­ence that needs these books needs them more than the av­er­age reader needs the av­er­age novel. It’s more psy­cho­log­i­cally ur­gent. My need­ing One Hun­dred Years of Soli­tude, which I do feel I need, is dif­fer­ent than some­one who has lost a child need­ing Com­fort by Ann Hood. They read to cope with re­al­ity, to stay alive, and to re­mem­ber why life is worth liv­ing.”

The im­print’s first ti­tle, the mem­oir Now You See the Sky by Catharine H. Mur­ray, will be pub­lished in Novem­ber. Of the book, which re­counts the loss of Mur­ray’s six-year-old son to can­cer, Hood says, “A good grief mem­oir like [Catharine’s] not only takes us through the grief jour­ney, but re­minds us that part of that jour­ney is love and ul­ti­mately hope.”

Al­though Gra­cie Belle is not cur­rently open for sub­mis­sions, Hood plans to pub­lish one or two me­moirs a year. She says in the fu­ture she may con­sider ex­pand­ing to po­etry and fic­tion that is “well­writ­ten, faces grief head-on, and of­fers hope and af­fir­ma­tion.” For now Hood’s goal is to pub­lish work that helps read­ers and au­thors feel less alone. “Lit­er­a­ture helps peo­ple through all kinds of ex­pe­ri­ences and emo­tions,” she says. “In times of joy and cel­e­bra­tion as well as times of great sad­ness, lit­er­a­ture re­minds us what it is like to be hu­man.”

Ann Hood

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.