small presses

Small Presses with Big Ideas

small presses

Every year some of my favorite titles are published by small presses, which means I try to keep an eye out for upcoming books that pique my interest. 2016 looks to bring some incredible sounding titles from small presses that have done nothing but amaze me in the past.

Coffee House Press

I’ve Loved

The Blue Girl by Laurie Foos, Prelude to Bruise by Saeed Jones

I’m Looking Forward To

problems jade sharmaProblems by Jade Sharma – July 2016

“Dark, raw, and very funny, Problems introduces us to Maya, a young woman with a smart mouth, time to kill, and a heroin hobby that isn’t much fun anymore. Maya’s been able to get by in New York on her wits and a dead-end bookstore job for years, but when her husband leaves her and her favorite professor ends their affair, her barely-calibrated life descends into chaos, and she has to make some choices. Maya’s struggle to be alone, to be a woman, and to be thoughtful and imperfect and alive in a world that doesn’t really care what happens to her is rendered with dead-eyed clarity and unnerving charm. This book takes every tired trope about addiction and recovery, ‘likeable’ characters, and redemption narratives, and blows them to pieces.”


Graywolf Press

I’ve Loved

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine

I’m Looking Forward To

grief is the thing with feathersGrief Is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter – June 2016

“Here he is, husband and father, scruffy romantic, a shambolic scholar–a man adrift in the wake of his wife’s sudden, accidental death. And there are his two sons who like him struggle in their London apartment to face the unbearable sadness that has engulfed them. The father imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness, while the boys wander, savage and unsupervised.

In this moment of violent despair they are visited by Crow–antagonist, trickster, goad, protector, therapist, and babysitter. This self-described ‘sentimental bird,’ at once wild and tender, who ‘finds humans dull except in grief,’ threatens to stay with the wounded family until they no longer need him. As weeks turn to months and the pain of loss lessens with the balm of memories, Crow’s efforts are rewarded and the little unit of three begins to recover: Dad resumes his book about the poet Ted Hughes; the boys get on with it, grow up.”


Tin House Books

I’ve Loved

Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller, Dryland by Sarah Jaffe

I’m Looking Forward To

relief map knechtRelief Map by Rosalie Knecht – March 2016

“In the heat of a stifling summer in her sixteenth year, Livy Marko spends her days in the rust-belt town of Lomath, Pennsylvania, babysitting, hanging out with her best friend, Nelson, and waiting for a bigger life to begin. These simple routines are disrupted when the electricity is cut off and the bridges are closed by a horde of police and FBI agents. A fugitive from the Republic of Georgia, on the run from an extradition order, has taken refuge in nearby hills and no one is able to leave or enter Lomath until he is found.As the police fail to find the wanted man and hours stretch into days, the town of Lomath begins to buckle under the strain. Like Russian dolls, each hostage seems to be harboring a captive of their own. Even Livy’s parents may have something to conceal, and Livy must learn that the source of danger is not always what it appears.”


Two Dollar Radio

I’ve Loved

Ancient Oceans of Central Kentucky by David Connerley Nahm, Not Dark Yet by Berit Ellingsen (among many others!)

I’m Looking Forward T0

the reactiveThe Reactive by Masande Ntshanga – April 2016

“From the winner of the PEN International New Voices Award comes the story of Lindanathi, a young HIV+ man grappling with the death of his brother, for which he feels unduly responsible. He and his friends—Cecelia and Ruan—work low-paying jobs and sell anti-retroviral drugs (during the period in South Africa before ARVs became broadly distributed). In between, they huff glue, drift through parties, and traverse the streets of Cape Town where they observe the grave material disparities of their country. A mysterious masked man appears seeking to buy their surplus of ARVs, an offer that would present the friends with the opportunity to escape their environs, while at the same time forcing Lindanathi to confront his path, and finally, his past.”


Need more recommendations?
  • Well…thanks for adding to my rapidly growing 2016 schedule – ha! Relief Map sounds fantastic…I’m going to try to request that. And Problems sounds great too. Love this post idea!

  • I’ve loved Tin House titles, too…I need to keep my eye on some of these others!

  • I feel the same way about the small presses. I try to keep up with what’s coming out – I just wish I had time to read more of them. A few of my favourite books this year were from small presses, like Fifteen Dogs – I was so happy when it did so well. :)

  • WOW! These all sound like absolutely amazing selections, Shannon; I think my favorite of these (from their descriptions) would probably be Problems and Relief Map. I’ll be sure to look for them; thank you for the heads up!

  • I agree that small presses put out some amazing books. I love what I’ve read from Coffee House Press in the past.

  • Totally saving this post in my Feedly so I can refer back to it. Loooove small press!

  • I would also recommend anything by New Vessel Press and Deep Vellum. There are also some fantastic small British presses- And Other Stories, Persephone Books, etc.

    • Oh, I think I’ve read a few by New Vessel, but definitely have to check out Deep Vellum – thanks for the tip!

      • I was just reading a Deep Vellum book — this novel called Tram 83 by a Congolese poet and fiction writer — and I definitely want to look into them further.

  • I love all of these. Coffee House, Tin House, and Graywolf have introduced me to some wonderful books over the years. I’m not familiar with Two Dollar Radio, but now I’m paying attention!

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