Indie Inspiration: Discover Great Books

Article by ben

Anyone who knows us knows that we’re big fans of indie presses—especially ones that specialize in literature-in-translation. Recently, we were ecstatic to host the editors of five of our favorite presses: Archipelago Books, New Directions, Open Letter, Restless Books, and Tyrant Books. To celebrate them, check out these ten great titles that will introduce you to new characters and worlds.

From Archipelago Books…

In Red Cover Image
By Magdalena Tulli, Bill Johnston (Translator)
$16.00
ISBN: 9781935744085
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Archipelago Books - October 21st, 2011

In this book, fantasy doesn’t just meet history; fantasy drives a book into history’s home. Set in an imaginary fourth partition of Poland, IN RED finds all the nastiness in humanity: greed, stasis, and cruelty. Bleak literature? Hard to say so when the writing is this exhilarating. Tulli is one of Poland’s greatest writers, and thanks to Archipelago, we have this remarkable book available in the United States.


My Struggle, Book Four Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780914671176
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Archipelago Books - April 28th, 2015

Come on, it’s Knausgaard. What more do you want? The man embodies everything about the European intellectual, and in photographs, he smolders. Oh boy, do I sound like I’m getting the vapors? My, my, bring me my fainting chair. Meanwhile, Archipelago will release book five of the monumental MY STRUGGLE series in April. Wake me up when it gets here.


From New Directions…


Beauty Is a Wound Cover Image
By Eka Kurniawan, Annie Tucker (Translator)
$19.95
ISBN: 9780811223638
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - September 8th, 2015

One of the great pleasures—perhaps duties—of indie presses, especially those that specialize in translation (like New Directions), is to introduce readers to the literature of new countries. Consider Indonesia: what was the last Indonesian novel you read? Thanks to New Directions, you can pick up BEAUTY IS A WOUND by Eka Kurniawan. He’s one of the great young world writers, and without New Directions, he would’ve been completely unavailable to American readers—which would’ve been a shame. You won’t want to miss this magical, haunting saga.


The Musical Brain: And Other Stories Cover Image
By Cesar Aira, Chris Andrews (Translator)
$29.95
ISBN: 9780811220293
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - March 3rd, 2015

New Directions: the only English publisher of César Aira, one of Argentina’s greatest authors. Where to even start? After all, the dude has published an estimated eighty novels, all teensy. No, he’s not precious with his work. He writes a book? He puts the damn thing out. (And he claims he never revises anything!) These books are strange and experimental, but they’re still founded in great storytelling. Aira is very much in the lineage of other legendary New Directors authors...including, yes, Bolaño.


From Open Letter…


The Things We Don't Do Cover Image
$13.95
ISBN: 9781940953182
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Open Letter Books - August 25th, 2015

There’s this Bolaño quote that always gets thrown around when talking about Neuman: that twenty-first century literature will belong to him. Read THE THINGS WE DON’T DO and you’ll see why. The stories are inventive, smart, snazzy—but forget that for a second. What I remember about Neuman is when the Brazos staff joined him for dinner after an event in October. Over Italian food and wine, he proved himself a supreme intellect, regaling us with stories while also demonstrating great curiosity in all of us. Literature will belong to him indeed.


War, So Much War Cover Image
By Merce Rodoreda, Martha Tennent (Translator), Maruxa Relano (Translator)
$13.95
ISBN: 9781940953229
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Open Letter Books - November 10th, 2015

The best books from Open Letter feel fresh, contemporary, and universal, no matter what country or time they come from. Consider Rodoreda, a giant of Catalan literature, and a favorite of #CultOfMark’s leader and Brazos’ floor manager Mark Haber. In WAR, SO MUCH WAR, she tells a story about the Spanish Civil War, and a young boy’s poetic, surreal adventures. Though she wrote this book in the 1980s, it feels vital still. Literature in translation? Yes—and Open Letter proves that, through translation, we can all get closer to each other as readers.


From Restless Books…


A Legend of the Future Cover Image
By Agustin De Rojas, Nick Caistor (Translator)
$15.99
ISBN: 9781632060358
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Restless Books - June 23rd, 2015

Smart readers know to look toward indie presses for some truly genre-defying work. Consider de Rojas, considered the father of Cuban science fiction. Not until Restless Books translated A LEGEND OF THE FUTURE was his work available in English. So, do you know people who turn up their noses at genre fiction, thinking it pedestrian? Give them de Rojas...and thank Restless Books.


Where the Bird Sings Best Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781632060280
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Restless Books - March 31st, 2015

Look...it’s Jodorowsky. What more do we need to say? The man is a master filmmaker and artist. You know his works: the trippy western El Topo, the surreal horror film Santa Sangre, and plenty of visionary works of visual art. This novel is no different. There are insane beekeepers. There are ghosts. There are a variety of weirdoes, all of whom Jodorowsky loves. Want strange, moving works of fiction like this? Look to indie presses like Restless Books.

From Tyrant Books...


Bad Sex Cover Image
$23.00
ISBN: 9780991360802
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Tyrant Books - September 15th, 2015

Okay, check out Clancy Martin’s author photo: long black coat, mussed hair, cigarette to his lips, disaffected as hell. Yes, this is the portrait of an indie author. Thing is, Clancy Martin, a philosopher and novelist, published his first books with FSG, one of the big New York publishers. Now, he brings his signature style—smart, tough, and a little irreverent—to an indie press. In the past, the indies have acted as a sort of warm up for authors waiting to make the jump to big corporate publishing; it’s nice to now see the opposite happening. [Clancy Martin visits us Tuesday, 1/12, at 7pm!]


Preparation for the Next Life Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780991360826
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Tyrant Books - November 3rd, 2015

The story behind this book seems so unlikely. Lish wrote a dense, troubling book about modern America. Yes, it’s a love story, but one that exposes the difficult situations of veterans and undocumented immigrants. Not an easy read, this book came from a boutique indie press. Expectations, perhaps low. But from there, well, the damn thing caught on, sold and sold, and eventually won the PEN/Faulkner Award. Now, Lish is nearly a household literary name. Powerful things, these indie presses.


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