Emma Paterson

I joined Aitken Alexander Associates in 2018 after five years at Rogers, Coleridge & White. Before that, I worked at The Wylie Agency. In 2018, I was selected as a Bookseller Rising Star.

I am looking for literary fiction, poetry and a wide range of non-fiction, and my authors include Bernardine Evaristo, winner of the 2019 Booker Prize; Mary Jean Chan, winner of the 2019 Costa Poetry Prize; Megan Hunter, author of The End We Start FromNew Yorker Staff Writer Sam Knight and Sunday Times bestseller Otegha Uwagba. Bernardine Evaristo is the first black woman to win the Booker Prize and Mary Jean Chan is the first poet of colour to win the Costa Poetry Prize.

In fiction, my preference is for character-driven novels and short stories with a strong sense of place and atmosphere, and work that demonstrates an energetic and often critical engagement with the world we live in now. I am drawn especially to the formally ambitious, the radical, the irreverent and the unsentimental—and to a sentence “as clean as a bone”, to borrow one from Baldwin. Good examples of my taste include Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin, Break It Down by Lydia Davis, Veronica by Mary Gaitskill, Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones, The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner, The Topeka School by Ben Lerner, A Heart So White by Javier Marías, In the Cut by Susanna Moore, Beloved by Toni Morrison and Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift. Recent fiction highlights on my own list include Elaine Castillo’s America Is Not the Heart, Chris Power’s Mothers and Sharlene Teo’s Ponti. I represent Lillian Li, Susanna Moore and Kristen Roupenian in the UK on behalf of their US agents.

In non-fiction, my tastes are broad: books I have loved recently include The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk, The Return by Hisham Matar and Playing in the Dark by Toni Morrison. I am also keen to represent a book in the mould of Helen Garner’s The First Stone or Janet Malcolm’s The Journalist and the Murderer. I represent a number of journalists, including Emmy-nominated Mona Chalabi, Anna Leszkiewicz, Rebecca Liu, Nathalie Olah, Ash Sarkar, Vicky Spratt and Lou Stoppard, and academics such as Jade Bentil, Helen Charman, Panashe Chigumadzi and Emma Dabiri. I am particularly interested in history, politics, psychology, social justice, visual culture and literary and cultural criticism, and keen to discover academics, critics and experts writing in these areas. I am also drawn to novelists and poets crossing over into creative non-fiction and essay writing. Non-fiction highlights on my list include Emma Dabiri’s Don’t Touch My Hair, Olivia Sudjic’s Exposure and Shon Faye’s forthcoming The Transgender Issue.

I’m equally stimulated by lifestyle books that offer a fresh, playful angle on a popular topic, and in this space I represent The Modern House, Funmi Fetto and Gynelle Leon.

I represent a handful of poets, including Costa Poetry Prize winner Mary Jean Chan, National Book Award finalist Diana Khoi-Nguyen, Rachel Long and Rebecca Tamás.

I am assisted by Monica MacSwan: Monica@aitkenalexander.co.uk