We are still waiting for the definitive literary voice of Generations Y and Z to emerge, says Andrew De Young, editor of the Twin Cities’ newest publishing house, Replacement Press.
“The dream of any young reader is to find a book that tells you what you are feeling in a way you haven’t seen before,” he says. “There are so many great books by the previous generation — Michael Chabon’s ‘Mysteries of Pittsburgh’ and Zadie Smith’s ‘White Teeth’ are a couple that really capture their generation’s voice or experience. But it’s been a little bit hard to come by something like this for people on the cusp of adulthood, here and now.”
De Young, who works by day as an editor at Augsburg Fortress, spent a lot of time contemplating publishing topics. Who would become the voice of his generation? How would the economy affect writers? What role would technology play in publishing and writing?
“For a while, I felt really discouraged about the current state of books — when you hear about the state of readership among people under 35, you worry. But then I considered all the hopeful things happening with technology, such as Kindle and e-books, and I thought, it might be a bad time to be a big publisher, but it might be a good time to be a small publisher. It might be a good time to promote a vision that you don’t see in the marketplace or feel passionate about,” he says. “I said, ‘Someone should do this.’”
He said it out loud. “Is that really possible?” asked his wife, graphic designer Sarah De Young. “Then we should do it.”
And so they are. Replacement Press apparently struck a chord; within the first few weeks after the publisher’s website went up, a couple dozen young writers sent in manuscripts. De Young says they are reviewing these, and seeking more. “We need to be really picky the first time out. The book we choose first will really set the tone,” he says.
Might your unpublished manuscript be that title? Depends on how old you are — maybe.
“We do want to promote young and emerging voices, but it felt unnatural to say we’d accept everybody up to 35, for example. What if there’s a great novel by a 36-year-old that captures the voice we want to capture?” says De Young. “So we don’t have an age cutoff.”