tv Interview with Chris Jackson CSPAN May 29, 2016 10:15am-11:01am EDT
>> you named it after yourself. no, i am allen. this is emily. we did that because we wanted to raise early money and we thought if we gave women credibility are raising early money, then they could go on and raise the additional money they needed to win. we were like little political venture capitalists. in today's terms would kick starter for women. emily stands for early money is like yeast. we make the dough rise and we been doing that ever since. >> now joining us on booktv is chris jackson paid what he do for a living? >> on the publisher, editor in chief of "one world" books. a new imprint of random house had it existed over 20 years ago and i am reimagining and ray
animating today. >> host: what is the focus of "one "one world"? s. cosell, similar to the books i published across my career, books focus on social justice issues. really there is fiction and nonfiction and how fast i understand the path in different ways and blaze trails back into the past. we understand our history more and crises better through storytelling and also help us imagine new futures. it is a book about i think the most essential conversations we are having today in new ways of thinking. new approaches from perspectives that are outside of what we consider to be the mainstream. whether that's people coming from different, you know, racial
and national backgrounds, what other are people of political ideas outside of the mainstream. i use the term mainstream loosely. i really mean people who are outside of the mainstream and probably in the center of american life. >> host: what are some of the books he published in the past that fix that? >> i published between the world in me came out last year. i won the national book award as a seller and in some ways it's a great example of the writer that i want to work with going forward. i am not just someone who had a big idea. he uses the body and a lot of contemporary scholarship around the issues and the history of race and how we have the world,
the body and kind of political conversation. but he did it in a way that dramatized the inhuman iced it in some ways like an ample amount of book. it is a death, a lawyer and one of my personal heroes. and also an attempt to sort of redefine. it's a narrative on one hand, but also book at our basic eyes of society and how we can look. brien is another author who i
sing because we talk about more and more with mass incarceration he talked about it in a different way than people are here. he talked about it -- the people commented that conversation by humanizing the story, telling a germanic narrative and kind of an emotional place. but at the same time, really did reorient our entire thinking about what justice is, what mercy is than who we are as a society. how we are all, you know, but the values our society and the people that we do and ask new
questions about that. that would be another really prime example. decoded was a story of jay-z's life through the story of his music. back music. that to me is also a book that fits what i want to do in the fan that sort of thing. they have the main thrust, the desire to make people rethink what rap music was, per rethink the period of time to vacuum that came out of an reorient our understanding of god so we can unders and. the personal level, a personal story, but also force readers to think about that art form in a different way.
>> which you say that you publish these books, what does that mean? what is the work involved? >> i was an executive editor for about 10 years and i work with two publishers there. sidney siegel and the kind of work as a team in terms of publishing the books. you know, each one of these books is in a different way. either they come to meet her asian survey approach the writers myself or have a conversation with someone we decide to make it into a book. and then i work with the writers on developing the idea. sometimes a working journalist amount of helping direct reporting and before they've written words, and how you
gather materials for the book and think i had to play -- how the information they are gathering will turn itself into a narrative. then the writer goes the way and make it onto the page with the structure, organization, tone, style and more literary qualities. and you really do line by line, word by word, and sentencing to be here so that the editorial part. then you oversee where you kind of -- yeah, you help manage the production process with the
proofreading design of the book come in interior design, cover design and develop marketing plans and salespeople, which is one more essential part so they understand that they are selling and a portable way they can take with them wherever they go. that is one of the key functions of any publisher. how do you talk about the book in the most concise and telling way. that's something everyone can use and the writer can use. so crystallizing the boat and the most peer and digestible affordable form. >> host: how did you get into this? >> guest: my first job in publishing was when i was in high school. i went to a high school where your senior year was either you get to do college courses or an
internship if you completed your high school requirements by then. the job led to other jobs while i was going to college and then my first real job in publishing with writing and researching the land and type of egg decorations. my first real job in publishing this john wiley & sons. i stayed there for five years or so and really got the ring. it was a scientific fact: medical publisher. i worked with a small group of people who do general interest publishing printed a couple books at the schaumburg center, which is like a black research
library and kind of in historic african-american culture and literature and i did some work when i was out quietly where i was able to work with and publish some of the younger black and latino and other writers who were kind of, you know, farming a new literary movement might be overstating it, but new center of gravity and american literature in that brought me over to random house after that. and now i'm my own. >> host: and a recent "new york times" magazine profile of viewing your work, the writer benson cunningham says chris jackson stands between the largely white culture writing
from the margins. hop society. do you agree with that? >> i would say a standalone between those things. definitely my aspiration isn't necessarily to stand between writers on the margins and the audience at all. although i may at times have those functions, it's more interesting to me that the role i can play for the writers coming from mainstream's point of view is to allow them to tell their stories or to speak to their ideas. the gatekeeper between band and their audience who is going to diminish their ideas come to
shape their ideas and make their ideas more acceptable to a perceived mainstream reader on the other end of that. i want to have them create great work that has great integrity. i feel like the best books i talk about already and across my list over the years, the ones to worked the best are the ones that fix where the writer is able to accept themselves and their ideas and tell their stories without a perceived leader. what the publishing industry as a whole or anything can sometimes do instead of letting the writer express their idea, try to make them fit into some kind of category with some perceived reader, like the ideal
reader for these industries. the readers they identified by their primary leader who, you know, looks a lot like those people. and it helps people get access to the machinery like random house. >> host: are your unique face in publishing? >> guest: i went to uni. i'm happy to say not just people who have -- who think differently -- people who bring new ideas and new energy to the industry and there's always people in publishing and one of the reasons i feel like i'm happy to do the work i do is because in some ways writers of
color, people like toni morrison or ralph tulloch said for whomever. these are people who built the company, that sold the books, finance the company and was always had a place they are. but we haven't always been very well represented in the editorial staff in particular in publishing as a whole. the black publisher random house with a number of really great black editors. not nearly enough, not close to enough. still almost scandalous minority of people in the editorial staff are people of color. 1% of editorial staff at the publishing companies were black. so that is an outrage and campaign in terms of staffing i do. i will to the degree i can --
i'm aware of that, but i think we are trying to figure out the inclusion of the problem. i don't think of myself as being unique because i know there are others. we are poorly represented. >> host: where did you grow up? >> guest: i grew up in new york in harlem in the grand housing projects for the first nine or so years of my life and further uptown. >> host: what was your childhood like? >> guest: it was great. no, it wasn't great. i was raised -- my father died when i was young. i was raised by my mother and sister who is very important to me, taught me how to read.
i ended up going to a school, a very select a school outside my neighborhood. i had this sort of interesting mixed life where i was part of the time in harlem with my very religious family and part of the time i was with the more kind of cosmopolitan environment in this very intellectually aggressive school. but it was new york in the 80s. we were not well-off at all. but you know, in some ways that is worth reading became such an important part of my life and finding people in literature whose lives and families reflect my own was life-changing. reading the young person and certainly assert a expanding out
>> guest: and we were kind of not sure what we were going to do, because he didn't seem like he wants to write this book anymore. and then, you know, and then over the last couple of years starting from, like, you know, last few years starting with the trayvon martin case and then through, you know, what happened in baltimore, what happened in ferguson, what happened in charleston, like, there was one incident after another after another of young black people, sandra bland in texas, being victimized by police violence. and he felt like he had to make some kind of response to that. and he had a meeting with the president one time, the president was having some journalists in for a briefing, and he had something of a confrontation with the president in that conversation. not a confrontation, but they had a disagreement in that conversation.
and when he left that meeting, he left the white house, he called me up, and we started talking about "the fire next time." and he said why don't people write books like that anymore. and we decided we were just going to read it together, right? we were just going to read it again. and he read it, and he was, like, i want to write a book like this, a book you can sit down and read in one sitting and that feels urgent and immediate and that responds to the moment, you know, with that kind of passion but also duty. it's a beautifully written book. and he went through several drafts before we got to something that was worthy of that. at some point we decided it would be written as a letter to his son. the thing that really transformed it. and then we eventually got to -- i say we, he got the book with my minor assistance. so -- >> host: did you know what you
had? >> guest: not until the very, very, very -- probably the last draft. because we struggled. i mean, we -- the book had issues in the first two drafts. like serious issues. and there was a struggle in getting the voice right particularly. and it's a book that is not -- like even now i couldn't say, oh, that's a book about blank, right? it's a book that is a meditation on some very large subjects told through this kind of memoir, narrative storytelling that takes you from beginning to end. and at its heart is the story of this friend of his who was killed. but, you know, trying to shape that into something that felt coherent was difficult. and trying to find the voice that could carries through that story was difficult. and really at the point where he decided he was going to write it as a letter to his son, that's when the fat got sucked out of it, the voice got clarified, and
the narrative became a narrative about how do i explain this stupid, complicated issue to a 15-year-old, right? who is every day turning on the news and seeing one of his peers killed and dying without there being any justice. and that's when the book really took shape. and one thing in that final draft, it was -- he was clear that it was a very powerful book. it wasn't clear to me that it was going to have the kind of success it's had, but i knew he had written something even if it was just going to -- [inaudible] i thought it was extraordinary. but i think he's a writer who i've, i mean, i would follow anywhere. i think he's a uniquely brilliant writer. i think, you know, once we kind of trimmed away some of the fat and figured out what the real thrust of the book is -- was,
that could really radiate. but when we got there, i knew it was great. i didn't know it was going to be -- i didn't really get that sense until i started sharing it with people. and people with very different backgrounds. one of the hazards is we come from very similar backgrounds, very similar takes on the world. we argue all the time anyway, but there's a lot of similarity in where we're coming from. sometimes i'm thinking, i love this, will anyone ever get it? maybe i love it too much. maybe i'm too close to it. and then, you know, i gave it to some of the people who work with me at random house, and their responses were, you know, equally powerful, and they were deeply moved, and that's when i was like, okay, this is something that really does, like, people will be able to hear this. it's not just me. yeah. >> host: why is he living in paris? >> guest: well, you would have to ask him that to be sure, but
he's only living there for a year. he's coming back in the fall. he's been learning french for a long time. trying to learn french more a long time. for a long time. one of his -- so he'd never traveled out of the country until he was a full grown adult, right? he didn't get a passport until just a few years ago. and he wanted his son to have the opportunity to live overseas. you know, his son is 16 now and he'll be going off to college, and he'll be living his own life soon enough, so he wanted them to have that experience together k. and he loves paris, and his wife loves paris. and he had an opportunity to do it, so he did it. and i think that's fantastic. i think, you know, again, like "between the world and me," how do you -- you know, you start in
baltimore, i started in harlem thinking that the world is this constrained place and there is always going to be a wall between you and the world. the real world, right? your world is always going to be in a box. so he's out of the box, and that's where he chose to go, and i think that's fantastic. >> host: chris jackson, where did the title come from? >> guest: between the world and me"? so the book was originally called tremble for my country, that was the original title, which was the title when it was still this civil war-based book which is a line from thomas jefferson. and then ta'nehisi -- and we kept that as sort of the working title for a long time. there's a poem, there's a poem called -- it's a richard wright poem that the title comes from. it's about stumbling on the
scene of a lynching and feeling, like, this distance between, you know, the narrator of the poem and the world. it's blocked by this -- in this case it was the scene of a lynching in that book. and so that's where it came from. there was a little bit of back and forth about the title, as we always have. ta'nehisi and i, we are like brothers in the good and bad ways. like, we fight like crazy all the time, but there was some back and forth about the title. i didn't think -- i thought it was a soft title. i didn't think it meant enough, right in and he was certain that was the right title. and at a certain point he was so certain that i was like, okay. if you're that certain, that's what we're going to go with. and he was right. as he often is, you know? which is another thing. thinking about my -- [inaudible] in some cases you really trust the writer, and i've always felt that way. because writers, i mean, times
they're wrong, sometimes they're crazy, but a lot of times they've been living with this thing as long as they have, and they feel that level of conviction and passion about something, then i'm happy to, you know, defer. and he was right. it's a beautiful title. >> host: does narrative nonfiction, is it a real specialty? >> guest: yeah. i mean, i think right now we're going through kind of an interesting moment in nonfiction publishing generally. because i think there was a moment maybe 10 or 15 years ago when narrative nonfiction became a category, people sort of identified it. and there were a lot of great journalists who were doing great work whether it was, you know, and there were some books that really stood out many narrative nonfiction, and they're all, like, escaping me right now. midnight in the garden of good
and evil, and there was the orchid piece and the perfect storm, and there were these great narratives that used the technique of fiction -- nonfiction. i think right now what's happening is that's still, i think, an ongoing form of journalism that is good and has an audience. but even a more interesting thing that's happening right now in nonfiction which is these genres are blurring between essays and criticism and memoir and narrative. again, "between the world and me" is a great example. there's reporting where he goes and he's doing journalist reporting, there's memoir in that, there's, you know, criticism in that, there's advancing of ideas in that. [inaudible] has done a great job of publishing books like a argonaut
s where these are books that are playing with different forms of nonfiction in a really interesting way. and often fits together through, you know, elements of personal narrative that kind of bring it all together, but, you know, leslie jamison's another person who's done that. and i think it's a really exciting thing. i think it brings you some of the energy of ideas, right? with the kind of, you know, reading experience of narrative and the kind of emotional connection of memoir. and not feeling like you have to be this genre or that genre or that genre. and also this kind of outward-facing point of view you get from journalism. and all of that's being brought together into one book, it can be very exciting when it's done, you know, some kind of expertise. so, yeah, so i think narrative nonfiction is, it is a, it's
something that i'm very interested in, seeing where it can go. i think this is still so much more room for exploration. >> host: all right. so one world is starting up again. >> guest: yes. starting up again. >> host: and who are some of the authors or books that you've acquired? >> guest: so i have two new books from ta'nehisi -- >> host: two new books? >> guest: one will be fiction, one lebanon fiction. i can't say much about them right now because they're still in development s and we don't want to give it away, but one of them will be coming out next fall -- >> host: fall of 2017? >> guest: 2017. i'm doing a book with a woman named kirar hudes who is a playwright who we just announced and this is, again, an example of that kind of nonfiction. it's a family memoir. she's -- that's also about some
bigger ideas about the drug war, about our wars overseas, about the meaning of family, about class, about race. but told through -- she's a playwright. it was written about her family in her theatrical material, and so the structure of it will be formed on these three opening nights for three plays that she wrote, each of which was the finalist for the pulitzer prize. but using that structure to talk about all of these other issues and about her family and her family's story. and she's a genius, so that's going to be very exciting. and it happened because she read "between the world and me," and she'd been thinking about writing a book for a long time. she's doing, she has a play that's just opening right now on broadway, she's got a lot going on as a writer. but she always thought she wanted to do a book. she read "between the world and me" and that opened up the
possibility of what a book could be. it doesn't have to be memoir, essay, it can be this tangling of these different forms. and she and i just met and talked for, like, two hours, and she went away, and she wrote up a little, a little sort of proposal for what she really wanted to do based on that conversation that we had, and it was brilliant, so we're doing a book. she's off to the races on it. so that's one. i'm doing a book with a guy named marlon -- [inaudible] who is currently living in turkey, but he's from syria with the artist, journalist molly crabapple. and, again, this is kind of a mixture of forms. it's his memoir of syrian war from the arab spring through the refugee crisis with the isis takeover of syria along with the western bombardment and what that was like on the ground. he was a student who two of his best friends got caught up in the liberation movement that started with the arab spring,
and the revolution started there. two friends became fighters with rebel groups. one of them was killed, the other one ended up working with more extremist islamist group. he ended up in raqqa which was being occupied by isis. he was one of the only people who communicated out of that, because he found a way to get on twitter x he started giving these reports of what was happening on the ground during the worst of the war and then ended up having to flee, as many people did, from syria and became part of these refugees living the country. he's able to talk about these three major moments in that region's recent history but from this really human, on-the-ground and thoughtful perspective. he's someone who in his wrying writing grapples with, i think, the ethical and moral issues around the choices he makes but also telling this really
dramatic narrative. and it'll be illustrated with 100 illustrations by molly crabapple who is a brilliant writer who i worked with before on a book by matt taibbi. "vanity fair"'s published a few already, and this'll be a book-length version of that collaboration. so that's really exciting. and i'm doing a book with al hex wagner who is now at atlantic but used to be on msnbc about immigrants, refugees and exiles. and in her own family story, someone who -- one side of her family is european and has a story of exile and immigration and came to america, the other side is burmese, have their own story. but also she's talking about those larger issues about what american identity is. and that's going to be fantastic. and others. >> host: final question for you, chris jackson.
what is the jackson mcnally bookstore in new york where booktv has been several times? >> guest: right. mcnally jackson, actually -- >> host: i apologize. >> guest: it's okay. maybe it should be jackson -- [laughter] it's a great bookstore in soho. it is named after my son, jasper mcnally jackson, and it is owned and run by his mother, sarah mcnally. it is, you know, i think it's the best independent bookstore in new york. although there are many great independent bookstores in new york, it's two levels. it also has a, there is a picture shop around the corner on mulberry street down in soho and mcnally jackson -- [inaudible] opening potentially a couple new stores in brooklyn and downtown manhattan that are still in development. it's been open now over ten years. and, you know, it's funny, because we talked about sort of
the trends many independent book publishing -- in independent book publishing. when we were first opening the store, our big concern was we wanted to make sure we were far enough away from a borders and barnes & noble. borders, turns out, doesn't exist anymore, and barnes and noble -- all the barnes & nobles that were close to, you know, soho and manhattan are closed now which is stunning, although they still have, obviously, thriving stores in new york. but that store has really flourished over the years, and it's got a café. i think in many ways it's a model for what a great independent bookstore can be. that community has really built up around it. and it's, but it has, like, a real -- it's really all about the taste level of the booksellers there and their passions and their ability to connect to that customer base that they have down there. so i think it's a beautiful
store. plus, it's physically beautiful. so i recommend people come will. and there's a great event series. great store. >> host: chris jackson has been our guest on booktv. one world the name of the imprint, coming out in 2017. thanks for your time. >> guest: thank you. >> here's a look at some of the current bestselling nonfiction books according to the washington post. tomming is the list is hamilton, the published script of the prize-winning broadway musical. nathaniel philbrick in "value i can't ambition." up next, grit. persistence rather than genius is a better predicter of success. and in "when breath becomes air," facing mortality. our look at the best selling
nonfiction books according to "the washington post" continues with max hastings' examination of espionage and military intelligence during world war ii in "the secret war." ta'nehisi coates, winner of last year's national book award, looks at the current tate of black america in "between the world and me." and wrapping up the list is "the legends club," the rivalry between basketball coaches jim myth and mike krzyzewski. that's a look at some of the current best sellers, many of these authors have or will be appearing on booktv. you can watch them on our web site at booktv.org. >> but the fact is that we have gone -- again, latinos -- from big numbers to power for the first time. and that's a huge change. and i think it is incredibly important that we realize that that new power is here and that
we can talk about things that in the past we really have no chance to talk about. and, therefore, when we have a candidate who says, donald trump, that mexican immigrants are rapists and criminals and drug traffickers, i think there's a new power, and we can respond to that, and we've responded to that. what's so interesting is that -- let me just put it in a question. where were all the candidates nine months ago? where was the press nine months ago? where was the u.s. government nine months ago when donald trump said that mexican immigrants were criminals and drug traffickers and rapists? where were they? nowhere to be found. and then we responded. we latinos responded we said, no, you're absolutely wrong. what you're saying is not right, and it's absolutely wrong. and we responded.
we just didn't wait for another cesar chavez, and we didn't wait for the hispanic congressmen to respond. we responded. and it was christian de la fuente, it was all our artists and each one of you on social media saying what you are saying, from trump -- mr. trump, is absolutely wrong. the vast majority are not criminal or rapists. he wants to build a 1900-mile wall between mexico and the united states. badgood luck. [laughter] you know why? because almost 40% of immigrants come by plane or with a visa. [laughter] so he wants a big wall. well, i mean, it's going to have to be a really big wall for that, no? [laughter] and then he wants to change the constitution and deny citizenship to the children whose parents are undocumented. well, he would have to change the constitution for that.
and in other words, he's absolutely wrong, and i think we have the right to start changing the conversation, and i think we are changing the conversation. talking about latino power, okay? let's suppose that he wants -- he's saying that he's going to win the hispanic vote, and let me tell you some news, mr. trump. you're not going to win the hispanic vote. [laughter] [applause] these are the numbers that i got from the univision washington post poll a few days ago, 81% of latinos have a negative opinion of donald trump. 81%. so how would that -- what would that mean in terms of if he were to run against hillary clinton or bernie sanders? well, only 16% of latinos, 16% -- i know you're asking who are, who's that 16%? [laughter] but 16% of latinos would vote
for donald trump against hillary clinton or bernie sanders. 16%. can he win the white house with 16%? no, he can't. because, remember, mitt romney got 27% of the hispanic vote, and he lost the election. john mccain got 31% of the hispanic vote, and he lost the election. so with 16% of the hispanic vote, donald trump cannot win the white house. and that is where our power resides precisely. we have 27 million latinos, 27 million latinos who are eligible to vote. unfortunately, not all of latinos go to vote. but i think donald trump is helping us, because many latinos who are thinking, well, i'm not going to go to vote, they see donald trump, and they say, oh, yes, i'm going to vote. [laughter] and that's changing. 13 million, 14 million latinos going to the polls can change,
and i'm completely convinced no one, absolutely no one can make it to the white house right now without the hispanic vote. and that's where our power resides. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. >> every year online bookseller amazon puts out a list of the 20 most well-read cities across the u.s. its ranking is based off of sales data of purchased books, magazines and newspapers on their kindle eing-reader and in print. seattle, washington, is home of amazon's corporate headquarters. the close-by city of bolterland, oregon, comes in second followed by the nation's capital in third place. san francisco and austin, texas, round out the top five most well-red cities according to amazon. the list goes on with las vegas, tucson, denver, albuquerque, new mexico, and san diego. baltimore, maryland, is 11th on the list, making it the second most well-read city on the east
coast. to find out which other cities made amazon's top 20 list, look for the article on businesswire.com. [inaudible conversations] >> good morning. welcome to the heritage foundation and our lewis lehrman auditorium. we welcome those who join us on our heritage.org web site an owl of these occasions. we do ask that last courtesy check that our cell phones and our other noise-making devices have been muted as a courtesy to our speaker. our internet viewers are always welcome to send questions or comments simply-m