Category Archives: Our Publishers

OLIO and Sweat Are Pulitzer Prize Winners

Even if you’re not an arts or literature aficionado, it’s likely you’ve heard of a little old prize called the Pulitzer. Going into its 101st year, the 2017 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced on April 10, and two Consortium authors received this incredible honor!

OLIO by Tyehimba Jess won in the poetry category, “For a distinctive work that melds performance art with the deeper art of poetry to explore collective memory and challenge contemporary notions of race and identity.” Though the Pulitzer is always an honor, it’s really no surprise, as earlier this year OLIO was named a finalist for the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry, the 2017 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, and the 2017 Kingsley Tufts Poetry AwardOLIO’s win is a major milestone for Wave Books, with this being the first time a title from Wave Books has earned a Pulitzer Prize. As Matthew Zapruder, Editor-at-Large at Wave Books notes, “We are thrilled for Tyehimba, and truly honored to be his publisher. This feels like a victory for the entire independent publishing ecosystem, which supports exceptional artists like Tyehimba Jess and smaller presses like Wave Books, so we can continue to do this work and share it with readers.” OLIO is truly a title in a league of its own, a three-hundred page poetic masterpiece that weaves sonnet and song to examine the lives of the mostly unrecorded African American performers directly before and after the Civil War to WWI. Congratulations to Wave Books on their stunning first Pulitzer Prize winner!

Sweat by Lynn Nottage won the Pulitzer Prize in the drama category, “For a nuanced yet powerful drama that reminds audiences of the stacked deck still facing workers searching for the American dream.” As the first female playwright to win the Pulitzer Prize in Drama twice (Ruined won in 2009), Nottage gives a new meaning to breaking the glass ceiling. With Sweat, she crafts a tragedy about the working class of Reading, Pennsylvania. In the words of Charles Isherwood in the New York Times “From first moments to last, this compassionate but clear-eyed play throbs with heartfelt life, with characters as complicated as any you’ll encounter at the theater today, and with a nifty ticking time bomb of a plot. That the people onstage are middle-class or lower-middle-class folks — too rarely given ample time on American stages — makes the play all the more vital a contribution to contemporary drama. . . . If I had pompoms, I’d be waving them now.” Congratulations to Theatre Communications Group!

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11 Essential Women to Read for International Women’s Day (and Beyond)

Happy Women’s History Month to all the incredible women who have made our national story, and to all the innovative women who are continuing to make our story. In celebration, here is a list of eleven women novelists, comic and graphic artists, essayists, and activists who are creating heartrending, essential stories that you can read now. Pro tip: many of them have books coming out this year, so you can dig into their backlist titles AND have something hopeful to read in 2017.

  1. Rebecca Solnit: Dubbed the “Philosopher Queen” by ELLE Magazine, Rebecca Solnit solnitwrites approachable, intelligent pieces on motherhood, “mansplaining” (a term she coined), politics, gender binaries, and more. Her indie bestselling title Men Explain Things To Me is also now available in Spanish as Los hombres me explican cosas. In the floodbreak of the 2016 election, her title Hope in the Dark resonated with folks across the country, building to the March 7, 2017 publication of The Mother of All Questions, where she writes lines such as “Liberation is always in part a storytelling process: breaking stories, breaking silences, making new stories. A free person tells her own story. A valued person lives in a society in which her story has a place.”
  2. davisAngela Davis: Davis has been woke before anyone knew what that meant, and she’s still writing about it. With decades of thoughtful activism under her belt, Angela Davis has a depth of experience so essential for today’s people when it comes to our dialogue: race, gender, prison rights. If this doesn’t have you interested, read this: in 1969, President Ronald Reagan requested that she be barred from teaching at any university in the State of California because of her membership with the Communist Party. She was part of the Civil Rights Movement and tied to the Black Panther Party. Her Freedom Is A Constant Struggle hit multiple indie bestseller lists in 2016, but you can’t stop there—dig into her older titles, and you’ll find gold: The Meaning of Freedom and Other Difficult Dialogues is a collection of her speeches on racism, community, freedom, and politics, and she’s a bit of a Frederick Douglass expert, having penned additional essays for an expanded version of Douglass’s masterpiece: Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written By Himself.
  3. Arundhati Roy: If you don’t know this incredible novelist for her, well, novels, you’re arundhati-roylikely not paying attention. But as Signature noted in a long piece in early February, instead of riding on her fame for her first novel, The God of Small Things, in the last four years, Roy has become something of a political activist, writing about “power and powerlessness,” including India’s 1998 nuclear testing and its efforts to become a nuclear superpower, the American bombing of Afghanistan, fascism in India, and her ponderings on meeting with Edward Snowden. Before grabbing a copy of her new novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, read her searing works of nonfiction: Capitalism: A Ghost Story, Field Notes on Democracy, The End of Imagination, and Things That Can and Cannot Be Said. In her newest title available April 11, The Doctor and the Saint, Roy strips down the cultural sainthood of Gandhi and examines some of the uncomfortable and controversial truths about the political thought and career of India’s most revered man.
  4. Valeria Luiselli: If you thought 2016 was rough, you have bookends of Valeria Luiselli to remind you of the goodness of 2015, and look forward to 2017. Mexican born Luiselli wowed almost everyone who read The Story of My Teeth in 2015. The New York Times called her story of the traveling auctioneer Gustavo (Highway) Sánchez Sánchez “deeply playful,” and her novel addressed ideas about art and objects, even tmhieas the hilarity of Highway’s tooth collection of the famous (Plato, Petrarch, and Virginia Woolf included) ensued. But in 2017, Luiselli is taking on immigration, and there’s nothing fictional about this. Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions is available starting March 28, and is Luiselli’s record of conversations with undocumented Latin-American children facing deportation. This essential book humanizes these young migrants and highlights the contradictions of the American Dream, and the fear and racism so prevalent for the people who try to make this their home. More Luiselli titles to add to your list include Faces in the Crowd and Sidewalks.
  5. gabrielle-bellGabrielle Bell: “Quiet, pensive cartoonist creates fantastic, heartrending cartoons that stun world” could be the headline for Bell’s artistic career so far. Bell grew up in an isolated rural community, and then took art classes at community colleges, working dead-end retail jobs while she started her career as a cartoonist. Her titles include The Voyeurs, Truth Is Fragmentary, and her first full-length graphic memoir Everything Is Flammable publishing April 18 from Uncivilized Books. Whether you’re into graphic novels or not, make time for Everything is Flammable: spanning a single year, Bell tells the story of returning from New York to her childhood home in rural Northern California to help her mother put her home and life back together. In the narrative, Bell keeps acknowledging her issues with anxiety, financial hardships, memories of a semi-feral childhood, and her always tenuous relationship with her mother. Don’t take my word for it: Alison Bechdel (Fun Home) is also a fan: “Bell’s pen becomes a kind of laser, first illuminating the surface distractions of the world, then scorching them away to reveal a deeper reality that is almost too painful and too beautiful to bear.”
  6. Bae Suah: If you’re trying to diversify your reading list, look no further than this baesuahheavy hitting Korean writer, who has recently been translated into English. In Korean, her name is “Suah Bae,” and she started writing stories as a hobby. The stories took on lives of their own, and now she’s been translated into English multiple times (thank goodness!). A Greater Music follows a young Korean writer as she evaluates her romance with her rough and tumble metalworker boyfriend, and her deep feelings for her past lover, a woman named M. Her most recent title, Recitation, explores the emigrant experience through the ideas of memory and personhood. Read more about Bae Suah in this interview from 1 Brooklyn with her rockstar translator Deborah Smith (who also translated Han Kang’s Man Booker Prize winning The Vegetarian), and stay alert for her collection of short stories, North Station, publishing from Open Letter this October.
  7. janemaiJane Mai: If chic comics, feminism, and Instagram game had a love child, it would probably be Jane Mai. Mai is a freelance illustrator and comics artist from Brooklyn, and her “autobio with a bite” See You Next Tuesday is relatable for any twenty-something female. She doesn’t just tell her own story. On May 16, her collaboration with An Nguyen and Novala Takemoto So Pretty/Very Rotten: Comics and Essays on Lolita Fashion and Cute Culture publishes, and you won’t find a better cultural critique in comic form.
  8. Carmen Boullosa: This Mexican writer is a literary heavenspowerhouse: poet, novelist, and playwright, Boullosa is the trifecta, and her work is more relevant than ever. Her first novel translated in English is Texas: The Great Theft, which reimagines the 1850 Mexican invasion of the United States (complete with colorful ranchers, cowboys, and dancehall girls). She views border history through distinctly Mexican eyes, which couldn’t be a more critical perspective in our current dialogue. Lucky for us, Boullosa is still writing. Her title Before is part revenge novel, part ghost story, and all coming-of-age. Her newest title Heavens on Earth publishes June 20, and beautifully challenges the primacy of recorded history, transcending the barriers of time through vivid, urgent prose.
  9. Sofia Samatar: Of all the writers on this list, Sofia Samatar could be the one whosesamatar college writing class you’d most like to take. This Somali-American professor and writer creates incredible fantasy worlds in her novels A Stranger in Olondria and The Winged Histories, and her first collection of short stories, Tender, is out April 11 from Small Beer Press. When asked why she writes fantasy, Samatar had a lot to say, “I’m this person from a mixed background, you know, Somali and Swiss-German Mennonite, that you don’t see a lot of, and that it maybe encourages me to imagine other ways of being.” Cliff note: her fiction is replete with strong female characters.
  10. Bernice McFadden: Her latest novel, The Book of Harlan weaves a young musician’s bernicejourney through jazz, Harlem, Paris, and life in a Nazi concentration camp. Bernice McFadden won the NAACP Image Award for The Book of Harlan, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg in her oeuvre. The author of nine critically acclaimed novels (pro tip: get a copy of Gathering of Waters immediately), McFadden started out adult life thinking she wanted to work in fashion (obviously, she’s still got the style—check out her NAACP award photos). After years of bouncing around to different big-industry jobs, McFadden landed on a year of unemployment, which launched her love of writing, and the world is better for it. Loving Donovan, Nowhere Is a Place, and The Warmest December are more required reading from this lifetime storyteller.
  11. Ursula K. LeGuin: LeGuin deserves many awards for her 87 years of life, many for her writing, many for her informed, gracious perspective on current events, including a recent letter to the editor explaining the difference between science fiction and ursulaalternative facts, which Entertainment Weekly covered in February. Since she started writing, LeGuin has been bucking the male stereotypes of the fantasy world, and winning awards doing it (including multiple Hugo awards, a Newberry Medal, a PEN award, a World Fantasy Award, and a National Book Award). The New Yorker covered her life and work in an in-depth feature last October, titled “The Fantastic Ursula K. LeGuin.” For a deep reading experience of LeGuin, check out Words Are My Matter: Writings about Life and Books, 2000-2016, with a Journal of a Writer’s Week.

 

Three More Books You Actually Can’t Miss for WHM:

Rad American Women A-Z: A new classic, Rad American Women A-Z has spent time on the New York Times Bestseller list, been excerpted on Buzzfeed, inspired Halloween costumes, and is genuinely loved by librarians nationwide. If you don’t have a copy (or know another female who doesn’t) it’s high time you picked up a copy of this.

The Crunk Feminist Collection:  From prison abolition, to beauty parlor politics, to Rihanna, The Crunk Feminist Collection brings essays from the Crunk Feminist Collective together in print for the first time. With essays like “Sex and Power in the Black Church” and “Dating with a Doctorate (She Got a Big Ego?)” there’s very little that the Crunk Feminists won’t cover. Self-described as “critical homegirls,” the authors tackle life stuck between loving hip hop and ratchet culture while hating patriarchy, misogyny, and sexism. This published in January, so get your copy now!

And the Spirit Moved Them: The Lost History of America’s First Feminists: Written by activist Helen LaKelly Hunt, this takes modern feminism back to its roots before the suffragettes. Before Seneca Falls, black and white women joined forces at the 1837 Anti-Slavery Convention in the first instance of political organizing by American women, for American women. These women challenged slavery and the patriarchy, and they created a blueprint for today’s intersectional feminism. With a foreword by the legendary Cornel West, this book is sure to make waves, and remind us where we’re coming from.

 

 

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Colleen Dunn Bates celebrates 10 years of Prospect Park Books

Looking for a small press that focuses on authors outside the mainstream? Look no further than Prospect Park Books, based in Pasadena, California. Celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, Prospect Park Books’ founder, publisher, and editor Colleen Dunn Bates writes about her experience and doles out some sound wisdom for Literary Hub in a post published November 8th.

The long game aspect of the business frustrated Bates, but has given her a new understanding of publishing and patience, especially the accompanying learning curve: “It takes years to build a backlist, to find and build relationships with talented authors, designers, and staff, and to learn how to make budgets and forecast sales with at least a shred of realism.” However, the love of books and authors drives Prospect Park to keep publishing truly remarkable books.

“We never would have had our #1 bestseller, the debut novel Helen of Pasadena, if I hadn’t said, impetuously, passionately, and (at the time) foolishly, ‘What the hell, let’s go for it!'” Helen of Pasadena follows a wife and mother from (you guessed it) Pasadena whose life changes when her cheating husband gets killed by a parade float. Prospect Park has also fostered a relationship with author Michelle Brafman. author of Bertrand Court and Washing the DeadBertrand Court gives a close-up view of life in a suburban cul-de-sac, while Washing the Dead  deals with a woman confronting her family’s past after her mother’s death. Says the Washington City Paper about Bertrand Court: “Subtle and convincing… Brafman’s book works best in the way these characters interconnect from story to story, maintaining the reader’s interest as a novel should.”

Prospect Park publishes fiction as well as gift and cookbooks; Little Flower Baking  is a perfect example of one of their excellent cookbooks, a baking cookbook that won the Southern California Independent Bookseller Award for Best Nonfiction and has Leite’s Culinaria raving about the plum crumble pie, “a mutant combo in the best possible way.” This is a great gift for the holidays!lfbaking_cover_small

What final piece of advice does Bates give about the small press world? “Every book is our baby, every author is our family member, and there will never be enough hours or dollars to do everything possible to make it succeed. But we try anyway. Because we cannot imagine doing anything else.”

Indeed.

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Foreword Reviews Celebrates 15 Years of Radical Publishing from Haymarket Books

9781608463954“Socialism is not a dirty word anymore and we’re happy to be a socialist publisher,” says Haymarket editor Julie Fain.

Over the last fifteen years, Haymarket Books has seen the tides of political thinking change, beginning in an era where a hint of socialism would instantly ignite rage and fear, to our current election cycle with Bernie Sanders unapologetically running for the Presidential nomination as a Demo9781608465644cratic Socialist. On July 7, Foreword Reviews to talk about Haymarket’s work over the last fifteen years, and where they’re going.

Haymarket has seen a surge of interest as progressive movements have gained momentum in the U.S. “People are more open to radical politics, questions of race and gender and criminal justice are on the table like they have never been at least in a generation,” says Fain.

“To publish at Haymarket, a book has to speak to people who are doing something to change society,” says Fain. Haymarket publishes all genres, from social theory to poetry, novels, and even children’s books.

Following their increase in s9781608465620ales, Haymarket is trying to intentionally direct their growth. One book playing a key role in their strategy is The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop. Fain says, “It’s a really great way of reaching young people, reaching a wider audience, reaching people who are doing important cultural work.”

Always speaking to the times, Haymarket has two titles that are hitting many required reading lists for Black Lives Matter: Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Davis and From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor.

9781608466191Looking ahead to more groundbreaking, question-posing titles, Haymarket has two books coming out by award-winning writer Arundhati Roy. Things that Can and Cannot Be Said, which she wrote in collaboration with John Cusack, documents their journey to meet Edward Snowden and the conversations that followed. It will be available starting October 4, 2016. Her collection of essays The End of Imagination will be available August 16, 2016, where for the first time ever, five of her books of essays will be bound together in one volume. We can’t wait to see these books on your shelves and in the streets.

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Coming to a Curbside Near You!

Curbside-splendor-Sq_LOGOIf you live in the Chicago area, you’ll soon be able to visit a brand new center of community and independent publishing, in the best form of all: a bookstore! This June, Curbside Splendor — a publisher of literary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry that has celebrated its Chicago roots since its inception in 2009 — is opening “Curbside Books and Records.”

The store was first announced in a Publishers Weekly article on May 24. While it will carry titles by Curbside Splendor (like Mickey, which HBO-TV/Girls star Lena Dunham recently touted in her online newsletter), it will also feature titles by indie publishers across the nation, as well as regional titles and records produced by independent labels. Curbside Splendor doesn’t produce music, but some of their titles do celebrate the rich entertainment history in Chicago, such as The Empty Bottle Chicago, which chronicles the famous venue’s 20+ year life through stories, photos, and ephemera.

Independent bookstore, independent publishers, independent labels—you may be sensing a theme here. The emphasis on independently-produced goods is entirely intentional. The goal, according to Curbside Splendor publisher Victor David Giron, is to expose people to new and exciting literature and music, to lift up voices and experiences that can get lost in chain bookstores and big business publishers.

The bookstore will be located inside a café in Revival Food Hall, a showcacover-draft-Chelsea9se for local chefs from 15 Chicago restaurants, which features communal seating and a wine bar that opens in the evenings. It’s not your average bookstore locale, and that was also an intentional choice.

“It won’t be a traditional bookstore,” Giron said. “The idea is that it’s going to fit into a larger communal space; it’s going to be part of this community center.”

Revival Food Hall is located near the famous Michigan Avenue, a commercial and cultural hotspot, as well as near several schools, including the School of the Chicago Art Institute, Columbia College, and Roosevelt University. In the future, Giron hopes to tap into the talent in MFA programs there to schedule programming and community events.

Is it July yet? We can’t wait! Congratulations, Curbside Splendor! Chicago is lucky to have you.

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Publishers Weekly Highlights the Limitless Language of NubeOcho

nubeochoWith advances in technology making it easy to communicate with people all around the world, the importance of learning a second language is often stressed young. Books are a crucial component in language learning, but where can you find good non-English-language reads that won’t cost you an arm and a leg to have shipped?

Enter NubeOcho.

On April 29, Publishers Weekly online featured six different international publishers who are bringing Spanish language books to an American market, including NubeOcho.

NubeOcho was founded in 2012 in Madrid, with an international focus from the very beginning. Their mission is to publish picture books that deal with topics relevant to kids all around the world, such as diversity, inclusion, and competitiveness. Through reading, NubeOcho believes, children can learn to navigate their way through new experiences and know that they’re never alone. As editorial director Luis Amavisca told Publishers Weekly, the “books promote respectful attitudes towards all types of diversity. . . [in] a playful medium that makes it easier to engage.”

With such universal themes, it’s only natural for NubeOcho to distribute their books internationally. Most of NubeOcho’s books are published in Spanish, but, to make them more accessible, the publisher decided to use the more common Latin American Spanish instead of Spaniard Spanish. A few of their titles are bilingual (including Princess Li/La Princesa Li), and many of them are translated into English in addition to their Spanish editions.

There’s no fear here of any of the whimsical magic of NubeOcho’s books being lost in translation. Accolades for the vibrant picture books have been rolling in from internagalinostional and U.S. trade publications. One of the most popular titles from 2016 is The Galinos (or, in Spanish, Los Galinos), the story of a group of aliens from the planet Gala who learn the consequences of taking Mother Nature for granted. The May 1 issue of School Library Journal raved that The Galinos was “an environmentally conscious and thought-provoking story.” On April 1, Kirkus Reviews highlighted another of NubeOcho’s spring 2016 titles, Carlota Wouldn’t Say Boo, saying that “the whimsical, tongue-in-cheek narration asks readers questions . . . and adds little asides . . . making readers feel the story is being told just to them.”

Transcending boundaries to reach out to one and all – isn’t that what publishing is all about? Bravo, NubeOcho!

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Flying Eye, Flying High: What to Look Forward to From Nobrow Press in 2016

nobrowlogoOn April 19, 100 Scope Notes, a School Library Journal blog which highlights the latest and the greatest in children’s literature, interviewed Tucker Stone of Nobrow Press and its children’s book imprint, Flying Eye Books. They talked about shaving beards, smartmouth mice, and, of course, books, giving us a preview of all of the excitement we can look forward to from Flying Eye Books in 2016!

Since its creation in 2013, Flying Eye Books has proved to be a force to be reckoned with: racking up starred reviews, bestsellers, and awards (including two nominations in 2016 alone for the Eisner Awards) for its authors and illustrators alike, and the 2016 titles look to be no different. While, as a self-defined “visual publishing house,” Flying Eye is known for its stunning visuals that appeal to readers of all ages, they also gravitate towards producing works with important messages. The message of this season? Empathy and compassion.

“The world feels like a difficult place to live in right now,” Stone said, “and we have to find a way to share the space.”

Francesca Sanna’s The Journey, which publishes Septembjourneyer 13, is just one of Flying Eye’s titles this season which represents that timely drive.

“It’s a picture book for young children about a family of refugees abandoning their homeland due to the war that, among other things, takes their father. It’s particularly inspired by the experience of Syrian refugees, but also incorporates the journeys that have had to be undertaken by the people of Somalia, Tibet and Eritrea,” Stone said. “I can’t imagine anyone walking away from this book without being stirred up by it.”

hilda and the stoneThis year is also one of what Stone called “triumphant returns,” including new books from the beloved Hilda and Professor Astro Cat series (Hilda and the Stone Forest and Professor Astro Cat’s Atomic Adventure, respectively); exciting additions to their nonfiction animal books (including Wild Animals of the North and One Day on Our Blue Planet… In the Antarctic); and a gorgeous new title from William Grill (The Wolves of Currumpaw), winner of the 2015 Kate Greenaway Medal (for illustration). In 2016, Flying Eye Books will also be reissuing some beloved children’s titles from the 1950s and 1960s, such as Helen Borten’s Do You See What I See? and Do You Hear What I Hear?.

Whether you’re a nonfiction aficionado or a regular comic book fiend, both Nobrow Press and Flying Eye Books are sure to have something for you this season!

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