Tag Archives: The Story of my Teeth

Why Coffee House Press is the Best Literary Press in the Twin Cities

With the newscoffeehouselogo 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 Teethwhich is a finalist for Three Percent’s Best StoryOfMyTeethTranslated 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. pretentiousnessDan 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, hpreludeow 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!

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Not Lost: Why Some Independent Publishers Can’t Get Enough of Literature in Translation

On April 19th, The Millions announced the finalists for their ninth annual Best Translated Book Awards. Six titles from five Consortium publishers were included, from both publishers who produce solely translations and publishers who produce a wide variety of genres.

Not long ago, most of the books that made it to translation were classics. They were primarily novels and poetry from already well-known members of the literary canon like Dostoevsky, Camus, and Neruda. Nowadays, translations are no longer reserved for the classical elite. Many publishers are adding brand-new translations of contemporary novels and poetry to their seasons each year with enthusiastic response.

Why translations? Why now? Here’s what the publishers of our award-nominated titles have to say.

Biblioasis, publisher of Arvida (by Samuel Archibald, translated fromArvida the French by Donald Winkler), believes that translation is the lifeblood of literature. Literature that does not engage with other languages and linguistic traditions quickly becomes stale and irrelevant. Translation means more voices can have their time in the spotlightespecially voices that we don’t usually get to hear.

war so muchOpen Letter Books, publisher of Wphysics of sorrowar, So Much War (by Mercè Rodoreda, translated from the Catalan by Maruxa Relaño and Martha Tennent), and The Physics of Sorrow (by Georgi Gospodinov, translated from the Bulgarian by Angela Rodel) believes that making world literature available in English is crucial to broadening our cultural awareness, to helping us engage with others from all different experiences. In addition, widening accessability of literatures new and old helps maintain a healthy and vibrant book culture. War, So Much War and The Physics of Sorrow both capture sides of humanity inextractable from their original culture and yet still recognizable in ourselves.

signsAnd Other Stories, publisher of Signs Preceding the End of the World  (by Yuri Herrerawhose second work, The Transmigration of Bodies, publishes this Julyboth titles translated from the Spanish by Lisa Dillman), was founded out of publisher Stefan Tobler’s frustration at the lack of availability of great works of literature published in English. Publishing translationsspecifically, good translationsis so important to And Other Stories that many of their editors and staff members are also working translators. If you’ve read Yuri Herrera’s work, you’ll understand where And Other Stories is coming froma world where non-Spanish-speakers can never read his incredible words is a sad world indeed.

Coffee House Press, publisher of the 2015 literary darling The Story of My Teeth (bStoryOfMyTeethy Valeria Luiselli, translated from the Spanish by Christina MacSweeney), sought out this revolutionary novel from a desire for their bookshelves (and their readers’ bookshelves) to more accurately reflect the wide range of voices and stories in the Americas. Voices of the Americas must by definition include non-English speakers. For Coffee House Press, translation is about dismantling a hierarchy in literature, of granting just as much weight to original English texts as to the words of non-native speakers. Translation is about expanding horizons, not limiting them.

load poemsHoly Cow! Press, publisher of Load Poems Like Guns, doesn’t typically publish translations, or poetry for that matter, focusing primarily on fiction and nonfiction from the Midwest. But when Farzana Marie, the editor and translator of the collection, presented her manuscript to Jim Perlman, the publisher at Holy Cow!, he couldn’t say no. Translating the collection brings the voices, joys, struggles, and triumphs of women living in the city of Herat, Afghanistan, thousands of miles, reaching readers who might never have known how much they needed it.

Culture, connection, compassion: that’s why we need literature in translation, now more than ever.

Find out where you can purchase Arvida; War, So Much War; The Physics of Sorrow; Signs Preceding the End of the World; The Transmigration of Bodies; The Story of My Teeth; and Load Poems Like Guns here on the Consortium website.

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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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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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