Literary agents ISO Muslim authors

(RNS) A group of literary agents is circulating an open call for manuscripts by Muslim authors, a reaction to the anti-Muslim bigotry they say President Trump has fomented.

"We all agree that the current political climate demands a need for a greater presence of authors of Muslim heritage in the book marketplace," the call reads in part. "We are taking action to help make that happen."

The online call from a growing list of more than 70 agents from around the country began after Trump on Jan. 27 ordered a ban on travel for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries for 90 days, and suspended immigration from Syria indefinitely. Trial judges have since suspended the order.

The agents are asking for submissions for a wide variety of works, from picture books to adult nonfiction.

"Literary agents are in a unique position to help contribute to bringing more empathy, compassion, understanding and tolerance into this world through books," the agents explain in their query. "We seek out unheard voices so that others can hear them."

Sheba Karim, a Nashville-based writer whose young adult novels feature Muslim American characters, praised the open call.

"Though one wishes it didn't take a ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries to prompt this call for submissions from Muslim authors, it is a step in the right direction."

She added: "However, to effect real change, the lack of diversity within the publishing industry needs to be addressed as well."