Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time ignoring bestseller lists and big imprints in favour of small press and independent publishers, trying to find some great work that would struggle to find the attention it so sorely deserves. A lot of these indie presses were set up precisely to combat large scale printing and the inherent biases in publishing, so there are indie presses which focus on authors of colour, those who decentralised from the major cities of the world and do their work part time, and those who enable authors to seek direct public support in the form of crowdfunding.
So, here are five recent and upcoming books produced by independent publishers, from sublime nonfiction to glorious graphic novel.
Handiwork by Sara Baume (Tramp Press)
Handiwork is Sara Baume’s nonfiction debut, her previous autofiction work having received awards multiple times over. She dexterously weaves a narrative about creating, seeing words as just another art form in a plethora of options, the entire volume a carefully considered series of thoughts about making, about nature, about life. It may not be for everyone, but the language is captivating and I found myself completely swept away.
On Sundays She Picked Flowers by Yah Yah Scholfield (Oni House Press)
Jude escapes her mother to the Georgian countryside, where she takes up residence in a cottage. She meets Nemoira, discovers the woods, builds a routine. Oni Press was set up to focus on experimental and speculative work from new authors, and this meets the mark exquisitely—a southern gothic interrogation of trauma, family, and love.
Due in October, I really hope this is widely read and reviewed, because reading it made me feel like I had something entirely unique in my hands.
So Hormonal Anthology, Edited by Emily Horgan and Zachary Dickson (Monstrous Regiment)
So Hormonal has been crowdfunded on Kickstarter for Monstrous Regiment, based in Leith and founded by two women in 2017. They set out to publish working class voices discussing intersectional feminism and sexuality. Though So Hormonal has yet to be published, I was happy to back the (now complete!) Kickstarter. I was so intrigued by the anthology’s contributors and their focuses—endometriosis, transition, trans pregnancy and childbirth, male infertility, and the racialisation of reproductive healthcare. It’s one of those anthologies that I know will teach me things I need to learn, and I cannot wait for it to hit my shelf.
Girl with a Gun by Dianna Nammi and Karen Atwood (Unbound)
Unbound is a UK based company, set up to facilitate crowdfunding for literary projects. Girl with A Gun tells the story of Galavezh, who grew up in Kurdish Iran in the 1960s and ’70s. Part of the 1979 Revolution, she became a Peshmerga soldier on the frontlines of war. Now she is known as Dianna Nammi, a world renowned human rights worker. Her story isn’t for the fainthearted, but gives so much context to a part of the world we in the west never examine closely enough.
The Carpet Merchant of Konstantiniyya, Vol I by Reimena Yee (Unbound)
Another Unbound creation, The Carpet Marchant of Konstantiniyya is based in 17th century Istanbul, and focused on home, love, family, and loss, a collection of deep and profound realities for an ordinary man who experiences extraordinary events, including his transformation into a vampire. This is a graphic novel with delicious artwork bleeding across every page, a truly delectable reading experience.