Monday, November 14, 2022

Celebrating University Press Week 2022 with a historical novel showcase (and resources for potential authors)

Happy University Press Week!  Held this year on November 14-18, this annual celebration recognizes the excellence and innovations in university press publishing.  The event is sponsored currently by the Association of University Presses, which revived it in 2012, meaning it's now in its 11th year. 

University presses are known for publishing the latest in scholarly research via monographs and journals.  Authors and readers may not realize, though, that many university presses are also active publishers of fiction for a general readership. The historical novels from these presses often have a regional focus or common theme, such as Western fiction or international fiction in English translation. That said, university presses don't chase the latest trends, so you'll find topics and settings treated here that may not be picked up by large commercial publishers.  As such, they make an integral contribution to the historical fiction landscape.

Interested in considering a university press for your historical fiction manuscript?  Please see Finding a Publisher at the AUP site, and look especially at the subject area grid to see which member presses publish fiction.  You typically won't need a literary agent, but if you have one, they can assist with the process.  Also see Who can be published by a university press?  While authors of scholarly monographs may need a terminal degree, this varies by genre and doesn't usually apply to fiction.

Now on to the books!  Below are eight new and upcoming historical novels from university presses.  This is the first of two posts.

Hoopoe is the fiction imprint of the American University in Cairo Press, and they specialize in novels from the Middle East, especially works in translation. Ibrahim al-Koni's The Night Will Have Its Say, translated by Nancy Roberts, is set in the late seventh century CE amid the Arab conquests of North Africa.  Read an interview with the author at the Hoopoe Fiction blog.  (Published November 2022)

Bison Books, the trade imprint of the University of Nebraska Press, emphasizes literature of the "trans-Mississippi West."  Kate Anger's debut The Shinnery, inspired by historical events, tells a coming-of-age story about a young woman in 1890s Texas who gets mixed up with the wrong man. (Published September 2022)

Native Oklahoman (and English professor at the University of Oklahoma) Rilla Askew went with the University of Oklahoma Press for publication of her newest historical novel, Prize for the Fire, biographical fiction about Tudor-era writer and preacher Anne Askew (no known relation), who was burned at the stake for heresy in 1546. The author's Depression-era historical novel Harpsong was published by the same press in 2007.  Read her launch interview with Anne Easter Smith at the Historical Novel Society website. (Published October 2022)  

Douglas Bauer's The Beckoning World, just out from the University of Iowa Press, tells the story of a coal miner who achieves his dream of playing major-league baseball in the early 20th century, against the background of the Spanish influenza pandemic.  (Published November 2022) 

Dead Reckoning, the U.S. Naval Institute's graphic novel imprint, has been publishing military-themed historical fiction and nonfiction for several years.  Read about the background to their publishing program at Publishers Weekly. The Stretcher Bearers by brothers Reid Beaman and Ryan Beaman centers on a group of young men who strive to save their fellow soldiers during WWI's Meuse-Argonne Offensive.  (Published April 2022)

From the University of Virginia Press comes Crusoe's Footprint by Martinique-born French novelist Patrick Chamoiseau (trans. Jeffrey Landon Allen and Charly Verstraet), a novel that incorporates Creole history in its magical-realism retelling of the story of Daniel Defoe's character Robinson Crusoe.  (Published November 2022)

Columbia University Press has published translations of many works of literature from Asia.  Translated into English by Pao-fang Hsu, Ian Maxwell, and Tung-jung Chen, Puppet Flower by Yao-Chang Chen dramatizes the Rover incident of 1867, a political crisis ignited by the wreck of an American merchant ship in southern Taiwan and subsequent acts of retaliation, as seen from multiple viewpoints.  (To be published April 2023)

Patricia L. Hudson's debut novel, Traces, reveals American frontier history from the viewpoints of Rebecca Boone, wife of Daniel, and two of their daughters, Susannah and Jemima, combining detailed historical research with logical supposition. Read more about it in the author's interview for The Southern Review of Books and in the Historical Novels Review's New Voices column.  It was published by the University of Kentucky Press's Fireside Industries imprint, which focuses on stories of rural America and Appalachia. (Published November 2022)


  1. Anonymous8:39 PM

    What a varied and interesting collection. Thanks.

  2. Thanks for your comments about the post. These presses do offer a lot of variety when it comes to historical fiction.