Smallish press, contemporary, experimental writers
July 24, 2022 6:39 PM   Subscribe

In the last few years I've enjoyed some smaller press writers who are doing experimental or unique work, but are still accessible. I've randomly come across recommendations for these books, but don't know how to find more of these authors because they're not quite 'big' enough to get a ton of coverage..... So my question is: What small-press authors are doing compelling work that is unique in terms of form and style, yet still utilize plot, characters, and other elements that keep the book 'readable', and who might be flying under my radar. A few authors I've liked lately listed below:

Eugene Lim, Anna Moschovakis, Wendy Ortiz, Yuri Herrerra. (More well known authors who share some of the weird freshness vibes I am seeking: Rivka Galchen, Bolaño, Leonora Carrington...)
posted by latkes to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
I think you'd like Jenny Offill.
posted by escabeche at 6:58 PM on July 24, 2022

Sorry, Offill is published by Knopf, so may not be what you want, though I think the style is right.
posted by escabeche at 6:59 PM on July 24, 2022

Response by poster: Shoulda said, larger press ok too!
posted by latkes at 7:04 PM on July 24, 2022

I've really enjoyed Simon Okotie's Absalon trilogy. {If you've read Nicholson Baker's The Mezzanine, it's sort of like that, but even more chronologically compressed).
posted by derrinyet at 7:11 PM on July 24, 2022

Kelly Link is associated (deeply, I think) with Small Beer Press.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 7:15 PM on July 24, 2022 [3 favorites]

In the Bolaño vein: Alejandro Zambra's novel Chilean Poet.

Also try Mario Levrero.
posted by derrinyet at 7:21 PM on July 24, 2022

Jessi Jezewska Stevens (whose novel The Visitors has been blurbed by Rivka Galchen)
posted by Jeanne at 7:35 PM on July 24, 2022

I picked up Youssef Alaoui's Fiercer Monsters (Nomadic Press) on a whim from the new books shelf at the library. Specifically, the whim was that when I opened the book to a random page, there was a character named Elvis, and the last two books I had read before that had also, improbably, had characters named Elvis, which was not why I chose them. Anyway, "experimental yet readable" is exactly how I'd describe it, and it ended up being the most interesting of the Elvis books.
posted by aws17576 at 7:42 PM on July 24, 2022

Denis Johnson (Jesus' Son)
Wendy Erskine (Dance Move)
Chris Power (Mothers and A Lonely Man)
Keith Ridgway (A Shock)
Fleur Jaeggy
Italo Calvino
Clarice Lispector (Agua Viva)
Cesar Aire
Etgar Keret
Barry Yourgrau (The Sadness of Sex)
Otessa Moshfegh (Eileen)
Joy Williams
Samanta Schweblin (Fever Dream)
Elizabeth McCracken (Here's Your Hat, What's Your Hurry?)
Tove Ditlevsen (Copenhagen Trilogy)
Maurice Carlos Ruffin (We Cast a Shadow)
Judith Schalansky (An Inventory of Losses)
Sarah Moss (Ghost Wall)
Olga Tokarczuk (Flights or Drive Your Bones Over the Bones of the Dead)
Fernanda Melchor (Hurricane Season)
J.D. Daniels (The Correspondence)
Claudia Rankine (Citizen)
Ocean Vuong (On Earth, We're Briefly Gorgeous)
Leone Ross (Popisho)
Paige Lewis (Space Struck)
Maria Popova (Figuring)
Anna Burns (Milkman)
Daisy Johnson (Fens, and Sisters)
Steve Erickson (Zeroville)

On preview, aws17576, you might like Steve Erickson's Shadowbahn.
posted by dobbs at 7:47 PM on July 24, 2022

Jessi Jezewska Stevens (whose novel The Visitors has been blurbed by Rivka Galchen)

Was going to mention this, as I was just eyeing The Visitors on the small-press display at the Strand.
posted by praemunire at 8:15 PM on July 24, 2022

Have you thought about keeping an eye on the presses themselves? I always look at what Small Beer is publishing, for instance. They do a lot of arty genre, but they regularly publish interesting literary fiction.

If you like Carrington, how do you feel about Angelika Gorodischer? Prodigies reminded me a bit of Carrington, although my personal favorite of hers is Kalpa Imperial.

On that note, you might want to look for some of the old Women's Press Science Fiction series. Most of them are too directly SFnal, but Memoirs of a Spacewoman (although it is in fact the memoir of a spacewoman) has some of that same, I dunno, arrogantly ambitious vibe that one gets from Carrington's stories.
posted by Frowner at 6:30 AM on July 25, 2022 [1 favorite]

You might like The Employees by Olga Ravn—and if so other work from New Directions, the indie that published the translation. (I'm not really familiar with the rest of their books though!)
posted by babelfish at 6:54 AM on July 25, 2022

Oh! They're UK based but check out Fitzcarraldo Editions. They have regular sales and an incredible fiction backlist with all kinds of fantastic work. I found Olga Tokarczuk through them, before she won the Nobel.
posted by derrinyet at 9:37 AM on July 25, 2022

I highly recommend Neon Hemlock, a small press with a focus on queer speculative fiction. I'm anticipating Izzy Wasserstein's story collection All the Hometowns You Can't Stay Away From, which comes out in the next few days. Also Iori Kusano's upcoming novella Hybrid Heart. In the interest of both full disclosure and self-promotion, one of my stories appeared in Neon Hemlock's anthology Glitter + Ashes: Queer Tales of a World That Wouldn't Die.
posted by itstheclamsname at 1:02 PM on July 25, 2022

Response by poster: Appreciate these recs all!
posted by latkes at 6:41 AM on July 26, 2022

I really like Dalkey Archive Press.
posted by perhapses at 11:14 AM on July 26, 2022

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