The publishing industry is changing (and fast). But while many of us gawk at the shadow deals and vicious feuds between Amazon and the Big Five publishers — events that really seem to drive publishing into an unpredictable future — these small publishers and outlets are slyly changing the industry for the better. Not content with simply publishing great writing, these innovators challenge both how and where you can find literature in 2014 and beyond.
Deep Vellum Publishing
If the translation scene in American literature is rapidly improving, it’s in part because of the energy and effort of publishers like Will Evans, whose Deep Vellum Publishing will release its first book in December. Deep Vellum promises to produce high-quality translations of must-read books, but that’s not the whole story. Based out of Dallas, Texas, Evans and co. are out to prove that translated literature can and should resonate in broader America. And their first title is something of a mission statement. Imagine Texans reading Texas: The Great Theft, a Carmen Boullosa borderland novel about the Mexican invasion of Texas.
Fitzcarraldo Editions was founded earlier this year by Jacques Testard, who is also the co-founder of the The White Review, a beautiful and wonderfully edited quarterly based out of London. With Fitzcarraldo, Testard has moved with great speed to publish ambitious literature that will stand the test of time. First up is Mathias Enard’s Zone, a gigantic, important novel that also happens to be composed of a single sentence. UK publishing is lucky to have Fitzcarraldo Editions.
Founded in 2010, Dorothy Project is not exactly new, but it has certainly hit its stride in 2014. I’ve already argued that Nell Zink’s The Wallcreeper is the debut of the year, but Dorothy’s list doesn’t end there. Joanna Ruoco’s Dan, which really does recall Donald Barthelme, is one of the best “overlooked” books of the year. I can’t wait to read what they come up with in 2015.
Two Lines Press
I’ve included two translation presses on this list because they’re proving that translated literature is less of a “genre” and more just an endless well of the greatest books we have. And Two Lines Press has shown, with every single release, that it is at the forefront of this transformation. Big publishers should take note of the quality of Two Lines as a pure publishing apparatus. Press copy, book design, translation quality: it does everything well.
Although Triple Canopy has been around since 2007, it has really grown into the fullest version of itself in the past year, since it launched a robust and innovative new site. A highly protean publisher that routinely experiments with the concept of “format,” Triple Canopy has become one of the most engaging and conceptually innovative projects in the American landscape. And it’s one of the few publishing outlets that seems to have digested the finer points of media theory, which has led to a run of synchronized events, screenings, e-books, and long-form articles.