Vancouver’s Arsenal Pulp Press has teamed up with one of its authors, Vivek Shraya, to found a new literary imprint that will focus on publishing and supporting writers of colour.
Through VS. Books, Shraya will shepherd the publication of work from racialized writers ages 18–24 – likely one per year – while mentoring them on topics such as utilizing social media as an author, grant writing, and planning book tours. The project is the next step in a six-month arts mentorship Shraya founded last year to help emerging writers of colour overcome systemic barriers.
“After it finished, I started evaluating what worked and what didn’t. The thing most writers ask is, ‘How do I get published?’ So this is a way I can change the program to accommodate that,” Shraya says. “The original idea was for me to fund it myself, but I fund so much of my own work still and thought it would be great for a young writer to be connected to an institution. So I said, ‘I’m going to try Arsenal and see what they say.’”
Toronto-based Shraya will work with Arsenal Pulp to select a young writer to mentor by this fall, giving them at least a full year to work on a manuscript before publication in spring 2019. Though plans for the imprint’s future will depend on how the first publication goes, Shraya hopes it will continue to be tied to a mentorship to “offer a safe passage, if you will, into the world of publishing.”
Arsenal Pulp publisher Brian Lam believes that the initiative fits perfectly with the press’s mandate to highlight new and unheard writers. “Vivek herself was one when she approached us after having self-published God Loves Hair, and she’s since gone on to publish a novel, a poetry book, and a picture book,” Lam says. “We’re thrilled with the opportunity to work with her on this new initiative, which asserts the importance of encouraging important new literary voices in Canada.”