Looking for that perfect holiday gift for that friend that has read everything? Or are you planning on reading more books from small independent presses as a New Year’s resolution? Maybe you specifically want to read more books in translation? Check out this indie press holiday gift guide for great books published by indie presses in 2017!
Her Body and Other Parties: Stories by Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf Press)
This was one of my favorite books of the fall! Intense and strange, feminist and queer, this collection of stories blends genres—notably horror and fantasy—to shape narratives of women and the violence visited upon their bodies. It’s a powerful and enthralling collection and I can’t wait for more from Carmen Maria Machado.
Have you already read Her Body and Other Parties? I’d recommend Fen: Stories by Daisy Johnson, another stunning collection from Graywolf Press.
Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett (Tin House Books)
Rabbit Cake follows Elvis Babbit and her family as they cope with the death of her mother. Hartnett’s understanding of grief is startling and honest. There’s a clever balance of dark humor and grief with these light (sometimes laugh out loud) funny moments. It’s quirky, funny, and an absolute delight. You’ll come away from the book absolutely in love with Elvis and this sweet coming-of-age novel.
My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris (Fantagraphics)
My Favorite Thing Is Monsters came highly recommended to me and it didn’t disappoint. Set against the tumultuous background of 1960s Chicago, Monsters follows ten-year-old Karen Reyes as she tries to solve the murder of her upstairs neighbor, a hauntingly beautiful and damaged Holocaust survivor. Karen loves nothing more than monsters—she is pictured throughout the graphic novel as a “weregirl”—and the book is full of b-rated monster movie posters and covers of monster magazines. The artwork is extraordinary, pen on lined notebook paper, but in a range of styles that perfectly captures the multifaceted nature of the story.
The Iliac Crest by Cristina Rivera Garza, translated by Sarah Booker (The Feminist Press)
From award-winning author, translator, and critic Cristina Rivera Garza comes a startling gothic novel of gender, power, and language. In The Iliac Crest, two women invade the unnamed narrator’s home and ruthlessly interrogate him about his identity. They claim to know his great secret and when he fails to give them what they want he finds himself in a sanatorium. And this is the first time its been available in English!
Moonbath by Yanick Lahens, translated by Emily Gogolak (Deep Vellum Publishing)
Moonbath is a beautiful and haunting novel that is at once an intimate family saga that spans four generations of Haitian women and at the same time this broad and sweeping story of a country. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I finished it—it’s lyrical and evocative and the writing will blow you away. It’s not an easy read in many ways; the history of Haiti is often complicated and we watch these women struggle against violence and poverty, but it is such a powerful force of a novel.
I’d also recommend Eve Out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi, translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman (also from Deep Vellum) as a powerful pairing to Moonbath.
A Working Woman by Elvira Navarro, translated by Christina MacSweeney (Two Lines Press)
Elvira Navarro has been named one of the “Best of Young Spanish-Language Novelists”and one of the major Spanish voices of the future. In A Working Woman, she explores female friendship, madness, and the bizarre through the story of two roommates, Elisa and Susana. It’s a subtle, interesting novel that you won’t forget anytime soon.
Looking for more great reads from independent publishers? Check out Liberty Hardy’s list of 100 Must-Read Indie Press Books.