Readers are Leaders
New York may be the center of the publishing universe, but not if Deep Vellum founder Will Evans has anything to do with it. Evans has ambitious plans for our city’s role in the literary landscape, even if he ended up here more or less accidentally.
“To be fair, I didn’t choose Dallas, Dallas chose me,” he explains. “My wife got a job here, so we moved in 2013. I created Deep Vellum around what Dallas has and doesn’t have: There’s a great arts community, and it’s not tapped out.
“The digital revolution has changed how we read and find out about stuff,” Will Evans says. “You can live in a place like Dallas and be part of the conversation.”
“It’s the future of publishing to be in a decentralized place. The digital revolution has changed how we read and find out about stuff. You can live in a place like Dallas and be part of the conversation.”
With a mission of publishing international literature in English translation, Evans was drawn to UTD’s literary translations program, one of the best in the country. SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences dean Thomas DiPiero is also “a big supporter of translations,” according to Evans, assuring there will be plenty of home-grown talent emerging in the next few years to work with Evans’ stable of authors.
Deep Vellum introduced its first volume, Texas: The Great Theft by Carmen Boullosa, last December, and the house has a chock-full roster coming out this spring and summer, led by its second published book, The Art of Flight, by legendary Mexican author Sergio Pitol. One of the most prominent, influential and awarded authors in the Spanish-speaking world, Pitol has nonetheless never been translated into English — until now. The Art of Flight is the first in a trilogy of the author’s works that Deep Vellum will release.
Events like March 18’s Art of Flight release party led by translator George Henson at Wild Detectives, Evans’ GalleryLab talk on translation and interpretive art the following night at Nasher Sculpture Center, and a reading with Icelandic author (and former Reykjavik mayor) Jón Gnarr at the Detectives in mid-April are just a few of the ways Evans hopes to engage the local literary community.
“How many people read 50 Shades of Grey? Smart people, people I respect — that book doesn’t have any qualitative value at all,” says Evans. “There’s been an insular trend in culture, and the lack of reading in translations is emblematic of that.
“Having cool events, getting people to read books and realize they’re part of their lives locally — it’s really amazing to try and get people to think about literature in a new way.”