The London Review of Books, the Paris Review, the TLS and the New York Review of Books are familiar names for bookworms, the reading-obsessed and library-enthusiasts. Along the years, these literary magazines have become the milestones of the editorial field; they regularly review and publish some of the best authors from all around the world, and the quality of their contents and graphic design is incredible and will never let you down. Nonetheless, here in London there is a whole underground space filled with independent lit-mags, which only needs and deserves to be explored as its diversity and variety are impressive.
Let’s begin with Banipal. Founded in 1998, the main focus of this magazine is contemporary Arab literature published in English or in English translation but it also promotes world literature in general from an Arab point of view. This particular name was chosen to celebrate the roots of Arabic culture. As a matter of fact, the magazine takes its name from Ashurbanipal, the last great king of Syria and patron of the arts, “whose outstanding achievement was to assemble in Nineveh, from all over his empire, the first systematically organised library in the ancient Middle East”. Having both an online and a printed edition, on the website it is possible to browse past reviews and contributors, read news and be updated with the Arab literary scene. Banipal works also as a publishing house with the aim of spreading the voices of contemporary authors and letting the world read their poignant voices.
Founded 50 years ago by Martin Bax, through its pages Ambit promotes both art, and literature and it boosts new talents and artists by accepting only unsolicited submissions. It has both a printed and an online version which features reviews, podcasts and interviews. Every year you can enter the Ambit competition, submitting your best work and be published in the magazine.
FunHouse is a beautifully designed new magazine about writing, comics and illustrations. It has an extremely voguish and modern style. The website is graphically impressive, where you can read the “fresh cuts” by its contributors. Check out the open submission period and have your illustrations or pieces of writing published in this stunning mag, focused on artists and creatives who think completely outside of the box and feel at ease inside the FunHouse.
4. The Wrong Quarterly
The Wrong Quarterly is an elegant printed lit-mag whose main goal is to create an international community of writers and professionals of the literary world. Only available in print, The Wrong Quarterly website is a bit slender, but you can find all the useful information you need about where to buy the printed mag, how to submit and who the contributors are. As they suggest, “go all offline”, take a break and enjoy this smart lit-mag. If you really can’t go offline, follow them on Twitter.
5. Brittle Star
Brittle Star is a magazine for new writing. It’s based in Europe, so it can be found in London as well. Its main focus is new writers and it provides a series of opportunities for anyone who loves writing and experimenting with words. The website is very rich in contents and sections: it features an annual competition, articles and the “Nudges” section, where the editors leave a prompt and anyone can leave a comment about it. Brittle Star is a very interesting and compelling project and everyone who is into new writing should have a look at it.
6. The A3 Review
The A3 Review is the literary magazine of Writing Maps, the alternative maps for writers: each map gives any kind of useful suggestion to writers as they work as portable sources of inspiration and help. Accordingly, The A3 Review has the same format as a map, but it contains fiction, poetry, graphic stories, photography, paintings, drawings, and other visual and word-based creative productions. Each month, A3 holds a themed contest to find the best material to be published in the MapMag, so anyone can be a contributor. This is one of the best and smartest projects around, so start to follow the map and find new routes for your creativity and imagination.
This was just a little selection of the huge ocean of amazing lit-mags you can find in London. If you were inspired by this list, search the web for more great projects and let your creativity explode.
Edited by Chermaine Sowah