Here’s to Coach House Books!

There must be a coFifteenDogsnstant party atmosphere at the office of Coach House Books in Toronto: they’re celebrating their 50th anniversary, and one of their titles, Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis, won the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize! The Giller Prize is the Canadian equivalent to the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in the U.S., so obviously everyone at Coach House Books is over the moon. Alexis received $100,000 at a black-tie ceremony on November 10th, as well as the opportunity to attend a two-week residency program at Leighton Artists’ Colony in Banff, Alberta, courtesy of the Banff Centre.

Both the shortlist (which included two titles from Biblioasis, Martin John and Arvida) and the winner were chosen by a five-member jury panel. Their statement about Fifteen Dogs makes it clear why it was chosen: “it’s a novel filled with balancing acts: humor juxtaposed with savagery, solitude with the desperate need to be part of a pack, perceptive prose interspersed with playful poetry. A wonderful and original piece of writing that challenges the reader to examine their own existence and recall the age-old question, what’s the meaning of life?”

In addition to the 2015 Giller Prize, Fifteen Dogs won the 2015 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and was a finalist for the 2015 Toronto Book Awards. Though the Giller Prize marks the most prestigious award a Coach House Books author has received, the press has also received numerous awards and nominations.

It all began in 1965, when typesetter Stan Bevington rented an old coach house and joined forces with Dennis Reid to print a book of poetry by Wayne Clifford. Since then, Coach House Books has remained one of the few presses that still prints their books in-house. This allows them to put just as much focus and attention on the quality and construction of the physical books as they do on the stories themselves. They have a diverse collection of titles, featuring innovative fiction, poetry, film and drama, and non-fiction. Check out this radio documentary they put together to hear the “voices behind the books.”

Congratulations to André Alexis and Coach House Books on their win, and here’s to the next 50 years!





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Books to Make Sense of Paris

129 fatalities. 368 wounded. A city of 2.24 million. And shock waves of pain and fear that are impossible to number.

In this confusion, what we can do as a book distributor is simply offer up six books that give a bit of perspective. The first four inform you about terrorism, the global narrative surrounding it, its history, and modern opinions. The last two titles are purely about Paris, and we think that’s important—to be reminded of the deep intimacies of this city and its people within this tragedy. In the words of Walt Whitman to Paris, “And I send these words to Paris with my love/…I will yet sing a song for you, Ma Femme.”

Syria SSyriaSpeakspeaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, by Malu Halasa and Zaher Omareen, published by Saqi Books, highlights the artists of Syria who combat  the culture of violence through their work. The anthology features poetry, illustrations, photographs, and stories that shed light on the individuals striving to make a difference.  NoNonsenseGuideToTerrorism

The No-Nonsense Guide to Global Terrorism by Jonathan Barker, published by New Internationalist, is an accessible analysis of terrorism and its history. The book uses examples from the Middle East, state terrorism, and political terrorism to look at the causes of terrorism and possible ways to combat it.

EnoughBloodShedPublished by New Society Publishers, Enough Blood Shed: 101 Solutions to Violence, Terror and War by Mary-Wynne Ashford and Guy Dauncey is told in two parts, with the first half of the book describing the culture of violence that terrorism creates, and the second half offering possible solutions. Though heavy in subject matter, the hopeful tone shows that change is possible. PiratesAndEmperors

Pirates and Emperors, Old and New: International Terrorism in the Real World by Noam Chomsky and published by Haymarket Books  offers a crash course in the many forms terrorism can take. Using the United States’ role in the Middle East as the main example, Chomsky shows how terrorism can be stopped by understanding these different forms.

Paris by ParisJulian Green and published by Marion Boyars Publishers Ltd takes readers through the romantic and winding streets of Paris. Like a love-note to the city, Paris is a literary portrait illustrated with Green’s photographs that shows readers just how special Paris really is.750YearsInParis

750 Years in Paris by Vincent Mahé, published by NoBrow Press, is a literary graphic novel that focuses on just one building in Paris through the progression of history, starting in the thirteenth century. The book shows how drastically things can change in an instant, and also celebrates the enduring nature of Paris itself.


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Literary Hub Features the Origins of Favorite Indie Presses

You just might have your favorite indie presses, but do you know their origin stories? Thanks to Literary Hub’s article on November 10, you can take a peek into the history of 21 presses, including Akashic Books, Coffee House Press, Copper Canyon Press, and Sarabande Books.

Akashic BoGoToSleepoks (eighteen years old) was originally an indie record label. As a change of pace, the three cofounders published  Arthur Nersesian’s novel The Fuck-Up. It was extremely succesful—it sold through three print runs—and paved the way for future successes. Check out Go the Fuck to Sleep, by Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortes, another one of Akashic’s biggest sellers: “we seem to do very well when we have the word ‘fuck’ in our book titles,” said managing editor Johanna Ingalls.

Coffee House Press, (forty-four years old), was originally launched as ToothpasteUprightBeasts Press after founder Alan Kornblum’s Toothpaste Magazine. The press’ first title, Tilt, was a mimeographed book and written by Kornblum’s pinball friend Dave Morice. For a recent Coffee House Press title, check out Upright Beasts by Lincoln Michel, a short story collection “full of monstrous surprises and eerie silences” according to Vanity Fair.

Copper DivinitySchoolCanyon Press (forty-two years old) first published Badlands, a poetry collection from Gerald Costanzo. The collected launched Copper Canyon Press and created their precedence of publishing extraordinary poetry. Check out Divinity School by Alicia Jo Rabins and C.D. Wright while you wait for Copper Canyon’s release of Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda, by Pablo Neruda and translated by Forrest Gander.

Sarabande Books (almost ten years old) published their first book in 1996, The Lord aSmotend the General Din of the World, by Jane Mead, which they found through their literary contest, the Kathryn A. Morton Poetry Prize. Publisher and founding editor Sarah Gorham said the book encompasses the press’ values: “the language was gorgeous and searingly honest. That fit nicely inside the idea of a Sarabande: elegant surface with a wild underside.” Read Smote by James Kimbrell for a taste of Sarabande Books’ current poetry aesthetic.


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Celebrate No-Shave November/Movember with Hairy Reads!

We “mustache” you aIMoustacheYouaQuestion question: are you participating in No-Shave November/Movember? To celebrate the fun month-long holiday that also raises awareness for men’s health, we’ve pulled together a list of titles that deal with the cultivation—or lack thereof—of hair. Even if you can’t physically grow a mustache, you’re going to want to “shave” this list for some fun reads.InspirationalMoustache

First up we have The Inspirational Moustache by Studio April and Ziggy Hanaor, published by Cicada Books. Celebrating the mustache’s return to popularity, this book combines gorgeous photographs with key grooming tips for the ultimate mustache.

One ThouOneThousandMustachessand Mustaches by Allan Peterkin and published by Arsenal Pulp Press takes readers on a journey through the cultural history of the ‘stache. Not only that, it’s also a handy guide to the many different styles of mustaches, from a handlebar to a Fu Manchu.

Unshaven: Modern Women, Natural Bodies by Nikki Silver and TinaUnshaven Horn and published by ThreeL Media/Stone Bridge Press, is a gorgeous photo book that celebrates women who choose not to shave. Whimsical, defiant, naturalistic, and sensual, this book will make you think about the regulations society puts on hair.

Looking for aTheMustacheMan fictional tale involving a mythical mustache? Check out The Mustache Man by Priya Ramanathan and Garima Gupta, published by Karadi Tales. Full of fun, laughter, and mischief, this picture book has gorgeous illustrations and features a mysterious mustachioed character. Ladyscaping

Last but certainly not least, we have Ladyscaping: A Girl’s Guide to Personal Topiary by Caroline Selmes and published by BIS Publishers. The definitive handbook on a subject that is often taboo, Ladyscaping is an essential guidebook for the mustaches “down there.”

Happy No-Shave November/Movember!


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Entropy Magazine Profiles Akashic Books’ Johanna Ingalls

Started as an indie recAkashicLogoNew03ord label, Akashic Books is now a powerhouse indie press. Committed to publishing under-represented authors and non-mainstream work, Akashic Books has built a name for themselves both in the indie and mainstream worlds. On November 3, Entropy magazine interviewed Johanna Ingalls, the managing editor at Akashic Books. They talked about the press’ history since its creation in 1996 and how they’ve managed their mainstream success with Go the F**k to Sleep.

“A lot of our early influences come from the indie music scene of the 1980s and 90s,” said Ingalls, as all three cofounders of Akashic Books were musicians. Though still connected to their indie music roots, Akashic Books is reaching for some international flair with their recent titles: “we focus a lot on the Caribbean—Cuba Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago. . . as well as African-American authors and authors from the greater African Diaspora.” With their successful Noir series, Akashic Books brings Middle Eastern authors to English-language readers as well.

For Ingalls, onGoToSleepe of the most appealing things about indie publishing is the ability to take risks: “we have much more flexibility to try new things and experiment than it seems possible in corporate publishing. We can be more adventurous.” This mentality paid off with their 2011 smash hit Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach and illustrated by Ricardo Cortés. Dealing with the title’s success was exciting and stressful according to Ingalls, and it couldn’t have been done without everyone at the press working together and with the authors to manage the demands. Editor Ibrahim Ahmad spearheaded the effort, but because the press only had four full-time staff members, everyone had to pull together.

Though other small presses might have collapsed due to the overwhelming amount of work, Akashic Books persevered and used the success to further establish their name: “we learned a ton along the way and it has made the company stronger and more stable,” said Ingalls, affirming that Akashic Books is built on a foundation of teamwork—both among the staff and between the press and authors. Go the F**k to Sleep is currently on the extended New York Times best seller list, cementing Akashic Books’ place in both indie and mainstream markets and opening doors for future titles, such as the forthcoming Chasing Water by Anthony Ervin.

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Library Journal Features Literature in Translation with New Vessel Press, Open Letter Books, and More!

Apparently translated fiction has a new vibe, which Library Journal‘s Barbara Hoffert likened to the “cool band you haven’t heard yet” vibe. On October 26, she took a look at the state of fiction in translation and profiled ground-breaking presses, including New Vessel Press, Deep Vellum Publishing, Open Letter Books, And Other Stories, Gallic Books, and Akashic Books.

Hoffert notes that many English-language readers stay away translated works, for fear of feeling intimidated. New Vessel Press, founded in 2012 by Ross Ufberg and Michael Wise and located in New York City, is specifically challenging this notion. Ufberg and Wise use their prolific language skills to find stories that will connect to all readers while providing diverse perspectives: “our books are not about what an American thinks of Paris but what a Frenchman or Turk or Russian thinks.”

Focused predominantly on translation, And Other Stories is a British-based press that emerged in 2009 from “a reading group of translators, academics, and others interested in uneRockPaperScissorsxpected, under the radar-type books,” as publisher Stefan Tobler explained. Akashic Books, created in 1996 and located in Brooklyn, NY, publishes non-mainstream authors and has also found success in publishing translated works, namely with their “Noir” series which features international authors in collections about a specific city, such as Tehran Noir.

Chad Post, publisher of Open Letter Books, noted that the success small presses have had with translation is due to the fact that they can take more risks than larger puTram83blishing houses: “small presses are getting a crack at many fine authors,” a fact obvious with Open Letter Books’ smash hit Rock, Paper, Scissors by Danish author Naja Marie Aidt. In addition, Deep Vellum Publishing’s Tram 83 by Fiston Mawanza Mujila and Gallic Books’ The Dictator’s Last Night by Yasmina Khadra are receiving numerous accolades, bringing these auDictatorsLastNightthors and presses mainstream recognition.

As Hoffert said, “a hunger to understand a world up close and personal is motivating many readers.” In addition, younger readers are turning towards translated works, getting rid of the intimidating and elitist air surrounding translation and replacing it with the youthful hipster vibe of reading something that no one else has heard of. Though still small in numbers, literature in translation is finding its home at these small presses.

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Literature in Translation? Poets & Writers Profiles Deep Vellum Publishing


Will Evans. Photo Credit: Dallas Observer.

Since he founded Deep Vellum Publishing in 2013, publisher Will Evans has been committed to publishing literature in translation. Unique, recognizable, and innovative, Deep Vellum is an important fixture in the Dallas, TX literary community as well as in the larger indie publishing world. In recent press, Evans has divulged his inspiration and publishing philosophy.

In a Poets & Writers article published on October 15, Evans highlighted key aspects of the press and the importance of continuing to build a literary community in Dallas. The non-profit press “takes its cues from other indie presses,” a business plan Evans adopted from the very beginning after cold-calling Chad Post at Open Letter Books to learn the ropes. In terms of connecting with readers, Evans said “I wanted to create a literary community in Dallas, one that could engage with our books, and the larger publishing industry.” Deep Vellum Publishing has recently leased space that will serve as a new office, a bookstore, a cafe, and an event space, and there are plans in the works for Evans and Deep Vellum to partner with local schools and printers for education.

Both yourTram83 literary and aesthetic needs will be more than fulfilled with SphinxDeep Vellum: each book cover is distinctive, minimal, and unique, though they all complement each other for a cohesive look. As The Casual Optimist pointed out in an article on October 16, Deep Vellum covers are “instantly recognizable.” However, they’re not pigeon-holing themselves: the cover for their recent title Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila and translated by Roland Glasser branches away from the minimal and light aesthetic.

This past year, Deep Vellum Publishing has released ten titles, ranging from fiction to nonfiction and spanning seven different countries. They plan on publishing ten to fifteen titles each year, and their upcoming season includes books from Indonesian, Spanish, and Icelandic writers. Keep watching and reading— Deep Vellum has much in store.


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