Restless Books History

Restless Books began in 2013 as a digital publisher of international literature, in response to the parochial, inward-looking, and homogenizing trends in American publishing. Our guiding conviction has always been that readers are naturally hungry for new destinations, experiences, and perspectives. Founded in 2013 by Ilan Stavans and Joshua Ellison, Restless set out to feed this hunger and curiosity with a richer diet of international literature, and to reclaim a sense of what it means to be restless—“stirring constantly, desirous of action.”

In 2014, Restless expanded into print via an international distribution partnership with Simon & Schuster, and we've published every book in print and digital since our first hardcover in March 2015, Alejandro Jodorowsky's Where the Bird Sings Best. From our office in Gowanus, Brooklyn, we’ve brought out a mind-opening array of novels, journalism, memoirs, essays, travel narratives, short story collections, science fiction, illustrated classics, multi-lingual poetry books, graphic novels, and thrillers from places as diverse as Cuba, Hungary, Iceland, Nigeria, Chile, Israel, Mexico, India, Uzbekistan, Russia, Pakistan, Poland, Madagascar, Iran, and many more. We’ve published the first books in English by 18 international authors, a number that will reach 26 by the end of 2019. In 2017, we published the first novel from Madagascar to be translated into English, Naivo's Beyond the Rice Fields.

In 2015, we crowdfunded a 400th-anniversary edition of Don Quixote to launch the Restless Classics line, designed to reintroduce great books to general readers, with new introductions and illustrations.

Also in 2015, we created the Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, which awards $10,000 and publication to a first-time, first generation immigrant writer. Alternating yearly between fiction and nonfiction, the Prize was first awarded to Deepak Unnikrishnan for his novel-in-stories, Temporary People, which was named a Best Book of 2017 by The San Francisco Chronicle and Kirkus and won the Hindu Prize.

At the end of 2016, Restless registered as a not-for-profit corporation in order to further our commitment to internationalism, diversity, immigrant culture, and great literature at a time when those values have come under renewed threats. Your donation helps us stay sustainable. 

In 2017, we launched Yonder: Restless Books for Young Readers, a new imprint devoted to bringing the wealth of great stories from around the globe to English-reading children, middle graders, and young adults. We believe it is essential to teach our kids to place themselves in the shoes of others beyond their communities, and instill in them a lifelong curiosity about the world and their place in it. Through publishing a diverse array of transporting stories, Yonder nurtures the next generation of savvy global citizens and lifelong readers.