The Rumpus | The Saturday Rumpus Interview: Vivian Lee

Vivian Lee is the kind of editor you want on your team: a writer at heart who understands the sometimes painful creative process, a fierce advocate when it comes to supporting her authors, and always at the ready with a hilarious tweet up her sleeve. She has spent her life steeped in books, studying literary journalism at UC Irvine as an undergrad and then going on to receive an MFA in nonfiction from The New School. Since 2013, she’s been an editor at Little A, Amazon Publishing’s literary fiction and nonfiction imprint, which is where we first met when I was an editor there as well. You can also depend on her for excellent music recommendations and when she’s not busy editing, she reflects on life through the lens of her favorite songs in Tinyletter dispatches.

I’ve always admired Vivian’s ability to straddle the worlds of fiction and nonfiction (which anyone in publishing will tell you can often seem like distant solar systems). For example, last year she published the critically acclaimed The Hundred-Year Flood by Matthew Salesses and worked with Jim Atlas on the short biography series ICONS, featuring writers such as Karen Armstrong, Dennis Lim, and Thomas Beller. She’s also been an outspoken supporter of writers of color, something the publishing industry desperately needs more of. I caught up with Vivian on a recent Sunday—we walked through the streets of New York’s Chinatown, where she lives, and talked about the publishing biz, diversity in the literary world, and the upcoming books she’s excited to see drop.