If you’ve been following my blog for a long time, you’ll know that the majority of my reviews come from indie presses. This is because I believe that they are willing to take risks with the books an authors they publish. Also it’s the independent presses who generally unearth and translate treasures from other countries in order for the public to experience what type of literary styles one finds abroad. Generally the more exciting titles do hail from independent publishers.
Thankfully they are getting more attention and are featuring in the ‘big’ book prizes, such as The Booker, Booker International, The Women’s Prize for Fiction and Goldsmiths. There’s even a prize for small presses; The Republic of Consciousness, which is doing an excellent job of bringing the more obscure publishers to public attention.
Being a small press means that funding is a bit difficult so I urge those out there to support them by subscribing or buying directly from their websites. If small presses continue to get support then they can continue changing the way people think about literature.
I am mentioning just five, and in no particular order but really I can fill up another blog post gushing over indie presses (click on the pic to go to my review).
Lucy Ellmann – Ducks, Newburyport (Galley Beggar)
Yes, I constantly mention this novel and I will continue to do so. Galley Beggar was founded in 2012 and have published a variety of titles. GB have pushed the boundaries on many occasions and it has paid off. Be it Preti Taneja’s King Lear reinterpretation, We That Are Young or Eimear McBride’s Prize winning A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing. However Ducks, Newburyport is the one in which my admiration for this publisher increased.
Lucie McKnight Hardy – Water Shall Refuse Them (Dead Ink)
I’m a relative newcomer to Dead Ink but so far I have been impressed by their output. Their manifesto involves publishing new and emerging authors. Since I have been going on about Daniel James’ The Autobiography of Ezra Maas, I decided to choose Lucie McKnight Hardy’s Water Shall Refuse Them. All I can say do not read this in the dark!
Camilla Grudova – The Doll’s Alphabet (Fitzcarraldo)
One cannot talk about indie publishers without mentioning Fitzcarraldo , with those distinctive blue covers (or the equally arresting white ones for the non-fiction publications). Set up in 2014 Fitzcarraldo’s output has been massive. Whether it is cutting edge translated fiction or groundbreaking essays (I haven’t gotten round to those yet) you will be guaranteed to find something of interest within their back catalogue. I could have easily chosen the two Tokarczuk books or the Mathias Enard ones but I decided to go for a twisted selection of short stories. The reason being that this was my first introduction to Fitzcarraldo, and definitely not my last as quite a few blue and white spines are in my TBR stack.
Birgit Vanderbeke, Jamie Bulloch (trans) – You Would Have Missed Me (Peirene)
Peireine Press specialise in translated fiction from Europe, however they only publish 3 titles a year based around a theme. All their publication can be read in 90 minutes or less. Incidentally my first book from this publisher was The Mussel Feast by the same author as You Would Have Missed Me so I’ve come to a full circle. You Would Have Missed Me struck a chord though as it is a touching monologue/semi-autobiographical account of the differences between East and West Germany. As an aside, every subscription to Peirene will help fund their social activist projects – more here
Ahmed Saadawi, Jonathan Wright (trans) – Frankenstein in Baghdad
Oneworld are a prolific publisher who have a strong and varied output from translated fiction to YA. Also the quality is high. They have a ton of prize winners and nominations under their belt and rightly so. Oneworld : a sign of quality.