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In Love With Lit

When John Freeman ’96 launched his eponymous literary journal in October, he made the decision for it to be more consciously international than its peers. 

“I can’t believe that the English-speaking world has some sort of peculiar genius that produces storytelling that trumps all others,” he says.

Words are what matter, he believes, in any language, which is why Freeman’s is less a moneymaking venture and more a labor of literary love. It appears semi-annually and is available only in bookstores and on with no website or subscription options.

Apropos, arrival was the theme of the inaugural issue, which featured work from well-established voices including Louise Erdrich, David Mitchell, Lydia Davis, and Haruki Murakami as well as new talents such as  Sudanese-born Fatin Abbas. The next issue will appear in May on the theme of family.

A respected poet, nonfiction author, and former president of the National Book Critics Circle, Freeman is famous for his unconventional, illustrious career path. After a decade freelancing book reviews and literary interviews for newspapers at a time when cultural coverage was shrinking, he landed the editorship of the London-based literary journal Granta

It was a dream job, but ultimately required too much focus on office politics. In 2013, after five years at the helm, he left to focus on teaching, writing, and living in the spirit of his evocative last name—a feeling he hopes marks his journal, too, with its focus on globally diverse literature. 

“I like to read things from elsewhere,” he says. “I think of storytelling as a way to pay attention to and witness the world.”