With the news on April 20 that City Pages voted Coffee House Press the best literary press in the Twin Cities, we thought we’d take a look at some of the reasons this indie press is such a standout.
1. International reach: The literary community is recognizing Coffee House Press more and more for their commitment to publishing excellent works of literature in translation. Perhaps no Coffee House title has received more attention in this category than Valeria Luiselli’s The Story of My Teeth, which is a finalist for Three Percent’s Best Translated Book Award in fiction. One of two Mexican books on the shortlist, Teeth was translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney and is competing against nine other titles for the prestigious award. The winner will be announced on May 4, and we won’t be surprised if Luiselli takes home the prize — she already won the LA Times Book Award for fiction earlier in April! Teeth was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award for fiction, and was named one of the best books of 2015 by The New York Times, The Guardian, NPR, Publishers Weekly, and numerous other outlets.
Upcoming works of translated fiction from Coffee House Press include Among Strange Victims by Daniel Saldaña París (translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney) and Camanchaca by Diego Zúñiga (translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell).
2. National prestige: The Story of My Teeth is not the only Coffee House title making news lately. Dan Fox’s book-length essay Pretentiousness: Why It Matters is making waves in the media recently, and not just for its arresting title. Slate called the book “impressively broad in its exploration of its subject,” while The Millions praises it as a “bracing, lively, espresso shot of a book” — no Coffee House pun intended.
If you’re looking for something a little less, er, pretentious, how about a book recommended by Lena Dunham? In January, the Girls actress and avid reader endorsed Saeed Jones’s poetry collection Prelude to Bruise on her feminist newsletter/blog, Lenny Letter.
3. Local involvement: Nationwide recognition does not mean the folks at Coffee House Press have forgotten their roots. The press remains committed to community involvement in the Twin Cities through their Books in Action series, which puts on interactive events for the public that combine literature and art to engage and inspire readers and writers alike. One exciting aspect of this series is a library residency program called CHP in the Stacks, which, according to the program’s Tumblr page, “aims to create a body of work that will inspire a broader public to engage with their local libraries in a new and meaningful way, and to encourage artists and the general public to think about libraries as creative spaces.” Current CHP in the Stacks resident Steven Lang was interviewed by the Twin Cities PBS program Minnesota Original on April 8. You can watch the video here.
With all the impressive work they’re doing on the international, national, and local levels simultaneously, it’s no wonder City Pages praised Coffee House for “[nurturing] the local literary scene as much as it dazzles on a national scale.” Congratulations Coffee House, and keep up the good work!