Backed by an anonymous donor, co-founders Uzoamaka “Max” Maduka and Jac Mullen launched The American Reader with a mind to “inspiring literary and critical conversation among a new generation of readers, and restoring literature to its proper place in the American cultural discourse.” Maduka and Mullen have assembled the team who may be able to do just that. Onetime Pulitzer Prize finalist Dean Young is the Poetry Editor. Author Ben Marcus is the Fiction Editor. Art and fashion world muse and editor Shala Monroque is the journal’s Creative Consultant.
But more than their top shelf staff, Maduka wants The American Reader to represent a new standard in — and consumer of — literary criticism. “The literary scene in New York is one of the last bastions of white male privilege,” Maduka told The Observer, adding “Even when you bring in women or people of color, it’s still, like, Harvard, Princeton, Yale.” Maduka and Mullen graduated from Princeton.
Equally important to Maduka and Mullen was that The American Reader respect the intelligence of the 20-something reader. Maduka told The Daily Beast, “Because we are on Facebook or Tweeting doesn’t mean we’re not still interested in reading War and Peace — and that we don’t have the need for an edifying conversation about it.”
UPDATE: Check out the New York Times‘ profile on Maduka and The American Reader.