New literary title Zembla not just for 'bookish'

A literary magazine describing itself as an “accessible New Yorker” has launched on UK news-stands.

Zembla is hoping to attract people aged 22 to 55 years old who are interested in literature, quality fiction, interviews and reviews but are put off by the more highbrow approach of existing magazines.

The 120-page title also intends to dispel the notion that literary magazines are only enjoyed by the “bookish few” and it features contributions from musician Brian Eno, shoe designer Manolo Blahnik, actor Steve Martin and artist Damien Hirst.

Dan Crowe, literary editor of Dazed & Confused spin-off Another Magazine, is editor and has secured backing from antiquarian book dealer Simon Finch.

Crowe said: “It’s like an accessible New Yorker. It has got reviews and opinion pieces and interesting bylines that have fun with words.”

Named after the fictional country in Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Pale Fire, Zembla will be published five times a year, priced £3.25. Copies will also be sold in Canada, the US, Europe, Japan and Croatia and distributed to firstclass passengers on select BA flights.

Vince Frost, who worked on the relaunch of Saturday’s Independent magazine, is art director and a different guest artist will be brought on board for each issue. Crowe is relying mainly on freelance contributions for the editorial content.

“There is a huge gap in the market for an accessible literary magazine. It’s all getting a bit horrible out there with magazines like Hello!, Zest and Closer. Martin Amis joked a few years ago there would eventually be magazines called things like Stuff and now there is,” he said.

Crowe claimed there was enough room in the market for Zembla, despite competition from existing titles such as the Literary Review and Granta.

“The Literary Review is a good traditional, rusticated benchmark of the literary establishment but only people concerned with literary issues would subscribe. “With Zembla we will be making some of those aspects available to a wider audience,” he said.

By Ruth Addicott

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