Tuesday, March 21, 2017

MEET THE PRESS: And Other Stories

Avid would like to formally introduce you to And Other Stories, a small press located in England! This team of cool-sounding people publishes mostly works in translation; their mission is to increase access to world-class titles that are not currently available in English. Founder Stefan Tobler says: “It has been said that the reason to start a publishing house is normally an editorial impulse. There’s the sense that something is missing in the world of books and a company is born. That is true in And Other Stories’ case, and is no doubt true of all the other publishers who publish literature in translation as part of their list.”

The press is classified as a not-for-private-profit “CIC” (Community Interest Company), which basically means that they have more freedom to take risks with editorial decisions rather than catering to “Richard & Judy’s taste,” or to the dictates of investors. A focus on community is truly at the heart of their operation, as they allow readers a role in their editorial decisions through reading groups, and are partially funded by their subscription program.

Personally, I consider the subscription program the most captivating aspect of the press's business model. I'm a little biased, as I'm a member of the team that runs the Avid Book Subscription Program, which is such a wonderful means of connecting Avid to a nationwide literary community. In the case of And Other Stories, subscribers pay up front, and then receive first edition copies of new titles months before their publication dates. They're also thanked by name inside the books they supported! Tobler calls the work of the press “[a] social enterprise,” and shares that subscribers: “trust us to find new writers for them.” Beautiful.

Side note: They have some really compelling cover art. Feminist Press’s U.S. edition of Michelle Tea’s Black Wave is near and dear to my heart, but check out And Other Stories’ cover. Too good.

Want to know more? Head over to their website and read their “11 Commandments.”

Avid Staff Pick: And Other Stories Edition
Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World 

Signs is a slim novel, a quick fuse. It involves crossing borders, shifting identities, and weaving languages. It follows a badass female protagonist as she travels an allegorical landscape, exposing the un-truths and silences and willful ignorance inherent in the construction of borders and of "American-ness." One image is burned into my memory: A woman, undocumented, detained by border control, writes and recites a poem of protest. For this scene alone, you should read this book.

What sold me on Signs, though? A blurb from another incredible author, Valeria Luiselli (check out her novel, her other novel, her essay collection, and this article she wrote for Lithub). Here are her lovely words on Herrera: ‘Yuri Herrera must be a thousand years old. He must have travelled to hell, and heaven, and back again. He must have once been a girl, an animal, a rock, a boy, and a woman. Nothing else explains the vastness of his understanding.’

Final fun fact: Lisa Dillman, the translator of this book, lives in Atlanta!

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