Behind every book there is a team. The writer whose creativity sparks an idea, editors who push the work to its edges, the publisher who gets the finished product into people’s hands. And there is the literary agent, who nurtures the writer and guides their process.
Emma Paterson is one such guide for writers like Bernardine Evaristo, Mary Jean Chan, Paul Mendez, Otegha Uwagba, Vicky Spratt and Lou Stoppard. Is there a common thread that unites them? She says: “an interest in form; political intention; emotional vitality”.
“I am drawn especially to the formally ambitious, the radical, the irreverent and the unsentimental,” Emma says in her profile for Aitkin Alexander, where she’s been a literary agent since 2018. “And to a sentence ‘as clean as a bone,’ to borrow one from Baldwin.”
We spoke to Emma about her authors, what draws her to them and their work, and who we should be reading in 2020 and beyond.