Clay Smith_Credit Michael Thad Carter - CopyWe are incredibly grateful to KIRKUS Reviews for their generous sponsorship of narratives, our literature-inspired summer series. 

KIRKUS reviews 8,000-10,000 books per year and provides those reviews in a variety of formats worldwide including their famous magazine. Much of the editorial team is in New York City, but Executive Editor Clay Smith, originally from Amarillo, offices here in Austin with the KIRKUS executive team. 

We asked him to share some insights with us:


On how KIRKUS Reviews works:

With traditional publishing, we typically get galley proofs three or four months before books become available to the public. The real trick for us is speed. We need to get the proofs quickly into the hands of just the right reviewer so it will have the best chance of a receptive and insightful review within the short time-frame we have. We also have a division called Indie—a broad movement that is influencing all art forms now—through which self-published authors can pay KIRKUS to review their work. Otherwise, though, the books go through the same thorough review process with the same rigorous standards we apply to all published works.


On who excites him in the Austin or Texas literary scene: 

Joe Jiménez is a San Antonio writer who has previously written poetry – his new novel, Bloodline, is a YA novel set in Texas that is inspired by Hamlet.

Amy Gentry is an Austin writer and critic whose first novel, Good as Gone, will be out at the end of July.

Karl Jacoby isn’t a Texas writer but his brand-new book The Strange Career of William Ellis is about a former slave in Texas who became successful in Mexico.


On other causes locally about which he is passionate:

I used to be the literary director of the Texas Book Festival, which is also a nonprofit, and I love what the Festival does so well: bring together readers and give them access to the best writers in the country.


A recommended reading list of new works about music or poetry:

Here are a few:

Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

Features by Tess Taylor

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein

Bach by John Eliot Gardiner (from 2013 but I thought your audience might like it)

And one to look forward to (it’s out on Oct. 18):

LOVE FOR SALE: Pop Music in America by David Hajdu


On his sponsorship of ACG’s Summer Series:

Thanks for getting us involved in this!