Last night we were ecstatic to receive the cover art for FESTER. UC Press has always done right by me–we had a back-and-forth about Yesterday’s Monsters that was very productive, and to this day people remember Cheap on Crime as “the one with the stripes”–but I think this is the best cover they’ve designed for me so far. I like it for three main reasons:
(1) The color. THE COLOR! I love it! Sickness green. You can’t avoid it. You can’t ignore it. It’s so sick. It’s so sickening. It’s the color of miasma and nausea. It evokes with such visceral precision the story we tell in the book. And, people will remember “that green one.”
(2) The map. This was my proposal to the press, and I’m really glad they took me up on it; the execution, of course, is much nicer and cleaner than anything I could’ve possibly produced. You’ll notice it is a map of California, with coronaviruses indicating the locations of CDCR prisons. Inside the book, in Chapter 5, you’ll see another version of this map, which overlays the prison locations on the entire state’s COVID-19 map, which we think drives home the point we make there, and throughout the book: when and where people get sick behind bars, everything around them is sick, because prison is not isolated from its surroundings, but rather along a continuum. I love that this spatial idea, according to which we are not safer when our fellow Californians age and ail behind bars, made it to the cover in such a neat, communicative way.
(3) The font and the way the word breaks down the middle. They could’ve written it on the diagonal, or in smaller print, but they wanted it to be HUGE.And it *should* be huge. We’ve been spelling FESTER in all-caps for a reason, and I’m so glad they kept it that way for the cover. It is only now, presented with the cover art, that friends of mine are finally “getting” the title: it’s not just the disease that is festering. It’s the massive neglect and dehumanization that festered there for decades. The outbreak is nothing more than a trigger that activated existing vulnerabilities. And don’t forget how the coronavirus permeates not only the state map, but also the letters. Everything about this cover is overlaid and permeable.
We are told that FESTER copies will be at the warehouse in January and available in bookstores, brick-and-mortar and online, in March. I will keep you all posted as to developments and as to the book party and tour.