LEAN magazine is devoted to non-protagonist-centered fiction, an approach to literature that formally deemphasizes the protagonist. Narrative attention is withdrawn from the would-be main character (or main characters) so as to reduce their presence in the text. This literal and highly generative act of reduction animates such works as Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery,” Natalia Ginzburg’s Voices in the Evening, and Hiroko Oyamada’s The Factory.
Non-protagonist-centered fiction has not been very common in literary history, which means that it offers rich possibilities for exploration that can lead to unusual narratives, perspectives and forms of knowledge. By sidelining the protagonist, this sort of writing represents a powerful way of registering and responding to the present. We are in a historical conjuncture that’s shaped by the pressures of large structures and forces, and yet our literature operates almost exclusively at the scale of the individual!
LEAN is committed to providing alternatives. While non-protagonist-centered fiction is not a humanist project, it’s not anti-human or even posthuman. It is invested in dramatizing how individuals are caught up in and reduced by large events, social structures, enormous timescales, agglomerations of people (the crowd, the mob), or just by their immediate surroundings. Neoliberal orthodoxy aside, the self does not stand over and above the world, and LEAN magazine is committed to exploring the exciting literary possibilities of that fact.
Please send submissions or story ideas to email@example.com
For new issue announcements and other occasional updates sign-up for the LEAN newsletter
Contributors get paid.
Thanks to Indrayudh Shome for the site and to Erik Ruin for the logo and the fire image. And thanks to present and future contributors and everyone who’s supported this project!