Tag Archives: Our Publishers

Publishing Unbound: The Fearless Audacity of Feral House

feral houseAre you looking for boundary-pushing literature to simultaneously shock and delight you? Feral House might just be the publisher for you.

On March 11, Heathen Harvest featured an interview with Adam Parfrey, the founder of Feral House, in which they discussed the press’s beginnings, its mission, and its continued challenging of the taboo.

Prior to founding Feral House, Parfrey was no stranger to the publishing world. Fresh out of college, he helped found three different magazines, covering everything from graphic arts to “outsider” books. Parfrey followed his interest in fringe books to create his own publishing house, dedicated to shattering notions of what is or isn’t appropriate for literature to discuss. The publisher only produces books that it deems “feral”wild, dangerous, challengingenough, but it’s not enough to write shocking material. The books have to be well-written.

“That’s the biggest problem with these issues,” Parfrey says. “People think, ‘oh, I’m going out on a limb because it’s about Satanism’ or ‘it’s about murder’ or this and that, but then these books are not so great. . . . The subjects have to be approached in an intriguing way.”

Still curious to what Feral House is really all about? Look no further than their 2015-2016 season. 

Late October 2015 brought about the timely rdeath confettielease of Disco’s Out… Murder’s In by Heath Mattioli and David Spacone. This book is an uncensored account of the violent lives of the La Mirada Punks, also known as “L.A.’s Deadliest Punk Rock Gang,” and their notorious leader, Frank the Shank. Death Confetti, which releases June 14, is a collage of Jennifer Robin’s unapologetic musings on her life in Portland, from its ’90’s grunge emergence to its current hipster-haven reputation. Robin is neither delicate nor meek in her exposure of Portland from the inside out in this raw and riveting portrayal.

That’s the Feral House approach in a nutshell: delve without flinching into the gritty.

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Community, Culture, Collaboration: The Groundbreaking Publishing of Coffee House Press

coffeehouselogoIn the early 1970s, a student at the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop named Allan Kornblum painstakingly assembled a letterpress operation which he named “Toothpaste Press.” In 1984, Kornblum moved to Minnesota, renamed his operation “Coffee House Press,” and the rest, as they say, is history.

Since officially becoming an independent publishing house, Coffee House Press has challenged the notions of what literature is and how much of an impact it can truly have. It’s a mission driving powerful results: in this past year alone, two Coffee House titles have been shortlisted for National Book Critics Circle awards. Mr. and Mrs. Doctor by Julie Iromuanya, is in the running for the John Leonard Award, which honors a debut work. Valeria Luiselli’s The Story of my Teeth was also nominated, in this case for the NBCC award in fiction. Highlighting the most recent of their successes, Coffee House Press was featured in the February 2016 Issue of Independent Publisher.

While Coffee House Press is first and foremost a publisher, they maintain a strong presence in the literary community. Coffee House has partnered with numerous organizations throughout the years, including the Walker Art Center and the Minnesota Historical Society. Coffee House also offers several residencies for writers, including “Coffee House in the Parks,” a new program established this winter. In collaboration with Three Rivers Park District, Coffee House set up an inventive writer’s retreat in a 6′ x 8′ ice shanty in Silverwood Park.

Aside from community collaboration, Coffee House Press is piloting guKnightCoffeeSleeve1920x1080_1.jpgerilla marketing tactics to reinvent the way people look at literature. One of their newest innovations is “Coffee Sleeves,” a clever twist off of the publisher’s espresso-themed name where excerpts of poetry and prose written by local writers of color were printed on 10,000 coffee sleeves, to be distributed in the Minneapolis and St. Paul metro.

“It’s a way of putting literature in a public space and giving people a literary experience that isn’t reading a book,” says Caroline Casey, Coffee House Press’s managing director, in a piece by The Atlantic on January 28.

With their commitment to community, culture, and collaboration, it’s a small wonder that Coffee House is considered one of the top independent publishers around. Thank you, Coffee House Press, for everything you share with the world, and best of luck at the NBCC Awards!

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Asymptote Journal Profiles Hispabooks’ Dedication to Translation

hispabooks_publishingAsymptote Journal sat down with Ana Pérez Galván on February 3rd to discuss the origins, journey, and triumphs of her press, Hispabooks.

Already familiar with the Spanish publishing industry, in 2011 Pérez Galván and her partner Gregorio Doval set out to form their own independent press. The duo wanted to find a niche for their press, something to differentiate them from the other small publishers in the market. They soon discovered a conspicuous gap in the literary world: while most eminent Spanish authors had their books translated into French, German, Italian, Serbian, and other languages of the region, few if any were ever translated into English.

Part of this dearth of English translations stems from the translation process. Typically, most publishers seeking to release translations are not fluent in the titles’ original languages. To save time, in order to determine which books to produce, they rely on outside reports of the books’ quality, content, and sales potential. This process is effective for commercially successful books, but often leaves behind more literary titles, whose nuance is difficult to convey by proxy.

But since Pérez Galván is a Spaniard herself, Hispabooks selects titles straight from the source, picking up many books that other translators may overlook or leave behind.

“For us,” Pérez Galván says, “our biggest achievement is having put a series of authors ‘on the map’ of world literature in English translation, who, we believe, are really worthy of august-octoberrecognition.”

American critics agree—Hispabooks’ August, October made the Boston Globe‘s list of “Best Books of 2015.” The newest translation triumph, released this past week, from Hispabooks is None So Blind, which Pérez Galván describes as “a beautiful tale on values and sense of belonging which is particularly relevant in the light of all political and religious conflicts going on now worldwide.

Hispabooks is certainly pioneering a new dedication to English translation. We can’t wait to see what spellbinding translation they release next!

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Akashic Books: A New Hope (for breakout literature)

carriefisherIf you, like many, are a fan of Carrie Fisher (otherwise known as Princess Leia of the Star Wars universe) and her vibrant Twitter feed, you may have spotted her tweet mentioning Go the Fuck to Sleep, the 2011 smash hit from Akashic Books.

It’s safe to say the Force has been with Akashic these past few months. Days before Fisher’s Tweet, Go the Fuck to Sleep went platinum, making it Akashic’s first title to sell over one million copies. This past September, Senior Editor Ibrahim Ahmad was featured as one of Publishers Weekly’s 2015 Star Watch Finalists.

In the publishing world’s version of the American Dream, Ahmad started at Akashic as an internAkashicLogoNew03 at age 17. He quickly moved up the ranks to become one of Akashic’s four core staffers. Beginning with very little publishing experience, Ahmad proved that he had a natural eye for editorial work. As an intern, he fought to acquire Boy Genius by Yongsoo Park, exclaiming “F— YEAH!” in black sharpie on his reader’s report. Akashic went on to acquire and publish the book, which was a finalist for the Asian American Literary Awards.

As Senior Editor, Ahmad took on the biggest challenge of all when he spearheaded the marketing and publicity campaign for Go the Fuck to Sleep. The title hit every major #1 bestseller list before it was even published. It was an unprecedented level of media attention for the small press.

“[It] was a crash course in publishing that simply cannot be taught,” Ahmad says.

Though Ahmad jokes about the large number of gray hairs that the reception to Go the Fuck to Sleep gave him, the book’s success provided Akashic with not only confidence but also a much-welcomed financial stability. The beginning of 2016 ushers in two new titles from Akashic: Chasing Water, a memoir by Olympic gold-medalist Anthony Ervin, and The Book of Harlan, a novel about two African American musicians imprisoned in Nazi Germany.

The [literary] Force is strong with this one. Congrats, Akashic, on all of your star-studded success!

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The NBCC Thinks Coffee House Press and Copper Canyon Titles are a Big Deal

This past week, the National Book Critics Circle announced their list of WhatAboutThisfinalists for the 2015 Book Awards. Not one but two Consortium titles made it through the incredibly competitive selection process: What About This: Collected Poems of Frank Stanford from Copper Canyon Press, nominated in Poetry, and The Story of My Teeth from Coffee House Press, nominated in Fiction.

StoryOfMyTeethThe Story of My Teeth has been garnering attention since before its debut. A review in the New York Times raved about it, saying the novel is “playful, attentive and very smart without being for a minute pretentious.” What About This is a collection that has been anticipated for decades, containing works that had been out-of-print since Frank Stanford’s death in the mid-1970s. NPR.org even called its release “the big event in poetry for 2015.”

You might be asking yourself, “But what are the NBCC Awards?”

Each year, the over 600 members of the NBCCcomprised of critics, authors, literary bloggers, publishers, and students—nominate books that they believe are the most critical, groundbreaking titles of the past year. From that pile, the board chooses five titles as finalists in each category (Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Autobiography, Biography, and Criticism), and, after a long review process that lasts several months, the winners. This year’s award winners will be announced on March 17th. The chosen authors will join ranks with literary greats such as Vladimir Nabokov, Toni Morrison, John Updike, Sharon Olds, and Louise Erdrich. In other words, it’s a pretty big deal.

Best of luck to Copper Canyon Press and Coffee House Press!

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