Literary Agent

Emma Bal


What I'm Looking For

New perspectives in history, arts & culture, politics, economics, philosophy, psychology, and science; original approaches to travel and nature writing; unusual illustrated projects; thoughtful and dynamic cookery and food writing; and atypical narrative non-fiction and memoir.


What I'm Looking For

Thought-provoking non-fiction and illustrated books

 I am very keen to hear from writers who want to break new ground across a range of subjects like history, psychology, economics, philosophy, geography, literature, science, anthropology and politics.

The best kind of non-fiction books stand the test of time and go on to become classics in their fields, such as bestsellers The Silk Roads, Thinking, Fast and Slow and The Body Keeps the Score. I am interested in finding writers who are ambitious in terms of the scope of their work and the level of success they want to achieve, authors whose ideas can cross continents. I am looking for academics who want to share their ideas with the wider world through engaging and accessible trade writing.

I’m very interested in biographies and group biographies that are characterful and illuminating, particularly ones that offer new ways of seeing well-known figures or bring to light previously overlooked stories. Some recent favourites include Square HauntingThe Invention of Nature and Black Spartacus.

I’m also interested in hearing about illustrated projects that are beautiful and stimulating. Some that I love are Accidentally Wes Anderson, Cabin Porn and Atlas of Remote Islands.


Narrative non-fiction

I would like to find writers willing to study and document important issues through more narrative storytelling. I also like humorous memoirs (we need more funny books!), like Priestdaddy and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

I want to champion nature writers who better reflect my understanding of the countryside as shaped by my own upbringing in Cornwall as a person of mixed heritage. Also I am looking for books that help make the climate crisis an issue that everyone feels they can engage with. I would really like to hear from travel writers too. In both these areas, I have loved The Book of Trespass by Nick Hayes, Around the World in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh, Afropean by Johny Pitts and The Lost Pianos of Siberia by Sophy Roberts.


Cookery and food writing

 I love food and I’m interested in the power of food as a gateway to culture, ideas and history. I want to hear from cooks and food writers that are thinking about food differently; and writers who explore gastro-politics, the environment, identity, history, and anthropology. I admire books like Eating to ExtinctionFood for Life and Ultra-Processed People.

Some favourite books


The Dawn of Everything by David Graeber and David Wengrow

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk

Free by Lea Ypi

23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang

Citizen by Claudia Rankine

African Europeans by Olivette Otele

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan

Chernobyl by Serhii Plokhy

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

Humankind by Rutger Bregman

Meet more of our agents