A New Series from UNC Press – Great Circle Books

Great Circle Books Logo

Great Circle Books publishes literary nonfiction—including memoir, literary journalism, personal and lyric essays, and work that defies easy classification—by emerging writers. The Great Circle is the intersection of lines on the celestial sphere—lines overlapping and creating new entryways of understanding. In that spirit, Great Circle Books seeks, through innovative work, to merge the human experience with our relationship to place. Its books are intended for general readers, as well as students and teachers of writing, particularly those interested in urgent and previously unvoiced cultural conversations that offer new ways to see and understand a world in a constant state of flux.

As much as the series emphasizes groundbreaking, place-based literary nonfiction, Great Circle aims to provide a welcoming space for writers broadly defined as emerging—emphasizing those who have not yet published a book-length work of literary nonfiction. The series is particularly invested in writers who lack access to publishing networks like agents and editors, and who have been overlooked by large commercial presses.

UNC Press Sponsoring Editors: Lucas Church & Cate Hodorowicz

Meet Series Editors Kiese Laymon & Marie Mutsuki Mockett

Kiese Laymon is a Black southern writer from Jackson, Mississippi. Laymon is the author of the NAACP Image Award winning novel, Long Division and the essay collection, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America. Laymon’s bestselling memoir, Heavy: An American Memoir, won the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, the 2018 Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose, the Austen Riggs Erikson Prize for Excellence in Mental Health Media, and was named one of the 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years by The New York Times. Laymon is the Libby Shearn Moody Professor of English and Creative Writing at Rice University and founder of the Catherine Coleman Arts and Justice Initiative.
Marie Mutsuki Mockett was born to an American father and Japanese mother. American Harvest: God, Country and Farming in the Heartland (Graywolf) won the 2021 Northern California Book Award for General Nonfiction and is a tribute to the complicated and nuanced history of the United States and its people. Her memoir, “Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye,” was a finalist for the 2016 PEN Open Book Award. She lives in San Francisco, and teaches at the Bennington Writing Seminars.

Meet the Editorial Board & Advisory Members

  • Editorial Board: Rosalind Bentley Barrie Jean Borich Stephanie Elizondo Griest Randon Billings Noble Hasanthika Sirisena John Jeremiah Sullivan
  • Rosalind Bentley is deputy editor at the Southern Foodways Alliance and editor-at-large for the Oxford American. In 2022 she was named the Interim Director of the Narrative Nonfiction MFA Program at the University of Georgia. A veteran newspaper journalist, she is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, two-time James Beard Award finalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Oxford American, Longreads, Gravy, and other publications. Her essay, “Iron and Brass,” is included in the upcoming anthology, Bigger Than Bravery: Black Resilience and Reclamation in a Time of Pandemic (Lookout Books, Fall 2022).
  • Barrie Jean Borich is author of Apocalypse, Darling, which was short-listed for the Lambda Literary Award. Her memoir Body Geographic won a Lambda Literary Award and her book-length essay, My Lesbian Husband, won the Stonewall Book Award. Borich’s essays have been anthologized in Isherwood in Transit; Critical Creative Writing; Waveform: Twenty-First Century Essays by Women; and in After Montaigne: Contemporary Essayists Cover the Essays, and have been cited in Best American Essays and Best American Non-Required Reading. Borich is a professor at DePaul University in Chicago where she directs the interdisciplinary LGBTQ Studies minor and edits Slag Glass City, a journal of the urban essay arts.
  • Stephanie Elizondo Griest is a globetrotting author from the Texas/Mexico borderlands. Her five books include Around the Bloc; Mexican Enough; and All the Agents and Saints. She has also written for the New York Times, Washington Post, VQR, The Believer, BBC, and Oxford American. An Associate Professor of Creative Nonfiction at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, she has performed on five continents in capacities ranging from a Moth storyteller to a literary ambassador for the U.S. State Department.
  • Randon Billings Noble is an essayist. Her collection Be with Me Always was published by the University of Nebraska Press in 2019 and her anthology of lyric essays, A Harp in the Stars, was published by Nebraska in 2021. Other work has appeared in The New York Times, Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, Fourth Genre, and elsewhere. Currently she is the founding editor of the online literary magazine After the Art and teaches in West Virginia Wesleyan’s Low-Residency MFA Program and Goucher’s MFA in Nonfiction Program.
  • Hasanthika Sirisena‘s work has been anthologized in This is the Place (Seal Press 2017), in Every Day People: The Color of Life (Atria Books 2018), and twice named a notable story by Best American Short Stories. She has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo and is a Rona Jaffe Writers’ Award recipient. She is currently faculty at the Vermont College of Fine Arts and Susquehanna University, and she is acting editor at West Branch magazine. Her short story collection, The Other One, won the Juniper Prize and was released in 2016 by the University of Massachusetts Press. Her essay collection Dark Tourist (Mad Creek Books 2022) won the Gournay Prize and is a finalist for a 2022 Lambda Literary Award.
  • John Jeremiah Sullivan is an American writer, musician, teacher, and editor. He is a Guggenheim Fellow, contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine, and the southern editor of The Paris Review. In 2014, he edited The Best American Essays, a collection in which his work had been featured in previous years. He has also served on the faculty of Columbia University, Sewanee: The University of the South, and other institutions.
  • Advisory Members: Sayantani Dasgupta Megha Majumdar
  • Sayantani Dasgupta was born in Calcutta and raised in New Delhi. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Idaho. Her most recent book is the short story collection Women Who Misbehave (Penguin Viking 2021). She is also the author of Fire Girl: Essays on India, America, & the In-Between—a Finalist for the Foreword Indies Awards for Creative Nonfiction—and the chapbook The House of Nails: Memories of a New Delhi Childhood. Her essays and short stories have appeared in The Rumpus, Hunger Mountain, Southern Humanities Review, The Bellingham Review, The Hindu, Scroll, and numerous other national and international publications. She serves as an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Besides the U.S., she has also taught writing in India, Italy, and Mexico.
  • Megha Majumdar is the author of the New York Times Notable novel A Burning, which was nominated for the National Book Award, the NBCC’s John Leonard Prize, and the American Library Association’s Carnegie Medal. She is also the editor in chief at Catapult books, where she acquires literary fiction, narrative nonfiction and memoir. Her authors include Randa Jarrar, Ruby Hamad, Jessica J. Lee, Matthew Salesses, and Noe Alvarez. She grew up in Kolkata, India, and now lives in New York.

More information on the series can be found here.

UNC Press editors Lucas Church & Cate Hodorowicz would love to connect with those interested in this new series! You can contact them via email at greatcircle@uncpress.org or if you’ll be attending AWP later this week, stop by T522 to talk with them in-person!