48 small presses from across the UK and Ireland have been named regional and country finalists of The British Book Awards 2023 Small Press of the Year award. This award aims to celebrate the independent presses delivering on innovation and originality, and we are pleased to announce that we work with five of these finalists!
Within East England, we have both Dedalus Books and Galley Beggar Press, two indie champions of literary fiction. Waving the flag for Ireland, we have Banshee Press — a new client for us at Turnaround, and an incredibly exciting one at that, showcasing Irish writers and poets. Representing the big smoke, there’s Cipher Press, an indie press that explores queerness, weirdness, and challenging the status quo. And last but most certainly not least, in the sunny south-east, we have September Publishing, specializing in illustrated and nonfiction titles in a new and daring way.
Those publishers sound mighty fine, if you ask me. Now, we know you want to know more about them, so here are a couple of recent titles from each one. Hold on to your seats, we are about to enable your book-buying habits. And, booksellers, you know what to do: get your phones ready because you’re about to make a couple of calls.
The Dedalus Book of Faroese Literature by Malan Marnersdóttir
9781912868995, PB, £9.99, 25/11/2022
The twenty-seven texts of The Dedalus Book of Faroese Literature take the reader on a voyage of discovery as they fall under the spell of these windswept islands.
The Dedalus Book of Faroese Literature offers a wide-ranging selection of fiction from the end of the nineteenth century until the present day, including work by the Faroes’ classic and most important contemporary authors. The Faroes is an autonomous region of Denmark and consists of eighteen small islands with a population of 52,000 and is situated in the Atlantic Ocean midway between Scotland and Iceland. It is almost incredible that such a small country could have produced such a wonderful and extensive literature in two languages. Even more incredible is that it produced two of the greatest Scandinavian authors of the twentieth century William Heinesen and Jorgen-Frantz Jacobsen.
The Short Stories of Gustav Meyrink: Volume 1 (The Opal & Other Stories)
by Gustav Meyrink
9781915568045, PB, £9.99, 17/11/2022
First published in 1994, it is a welcome return for these classic stories in a 2-volume collection of Meyrink’s short stories.
Meyrink’s short stories epitomised the non-plus-ultra of all modern writing. Their magnificent colour, their spine-chilling and bizarre inventiveness, their aggression, their succinctness of style, their overwhelming originality of ideas, which is so evident in every sentence and phrase that there seem to be no lacunae.Max Brod
His stories recall Gogol in their black, humorous vigour.European Books of the Year
These tales — sc-fi, ghost-stories, gothic fables, oriental allegories — were written in the first decade of the century and are now translated for the first time. They make a magnificent introduction to his bizarre genius, which combined the sharp Bohemian scepticism of his contemporary Kafka with the mordant humour and outreach of Swift.The Independent on Sunday
Galley Beggar Press
The Book of Desire by Meena Kandasamy
9781913111366, HB, £14.99, 5/1/2023
The Book of Desire is the award-winning (and Women’s Prize-shortlisted) writer Meena Kandasamy’s luminous translation of the Kāmattu-p-pāl, a 2000-year-old song of love and pleasure and the third part of the Thirukkural — one of the most important texts in Tamil literature.
Written by the poet Thiruvalluvar, the Kāmattu-p-pāl section of the Thirukkural focuses on love and female sensuality. It is the most intimate section of this great work — and also, historically, the part that has been most heavily censored. Although hundreds of male translations of the text have been published, it has also only ever been translated by a woman once before.
The Book of Desire is Meena’s own feminist reclamation of the Kāmattu-p-pāl. With her trademark wit, lyricism and passionate insight, she weaves a magic spell: taking the reader on a journey through 250 kurals (short verses), organised under separate headings — ‘The Pleasure of Sex’, ‘Renouncing Shame’, ‘The Delights of Sulking — the result is a fresh, vital, and breath-taking translation. It is a revolution 2000 years in the making.
Read more about The Book of Desire, our January Book of the Month!
A Writer’s Diary by Toby Litt
9781913111373, PB, £10.99, 3/1/2023
A Writer’s Diary is a novel that blends fact and fiction, invention and memoir with joyful creativity and remarkable literary ambition.
In it, Toby Litt takes on some of the biggest questions of life and death, not to mention literary as well as human mortality and the steady march of time. At first, A Writer’s Diary appears to be exactly what it claims to be. It is a daily summary of the events in a person called Toby Litt’s life: his thoughts on creating literature, his concerns for his family and the people he teaches, his musings on the various things that catch his attention around his desk and his immediate surroundings… But as it progresses, questions start to arise. Is this fact? Or is it fiction? (And if it’s both, which is which?) Is this a book about quotidian daily routines — one person’s days as they unspool – or is something more going on? Is there something even larger taking shape? And so, seemingly by magic, an increasingly urgent narrative starts to build — and A Writer’s Diary becomes a compulsive page-turner, full of stories, full of characters we have grown to love — and full of questions we need answered. Will Toby find the perfect pencil sharpener? Will everyone he loves make it through the year? And will he be the same person at the end of it?
A hugely readable achievement.Guardian
A deeply moving treatise on life, death, parenthood and the function of writing.Observer
Pacemaker by David Toms
9781838312657, HB, £12.99, 15/9/2022
A powerful and resonant memoir about living with a rare heart condition, from poet David Toms.
Every time I write about my heart, I write about walking. Every time I write about walking, I write about my heart.
What is it like to be born with a congenital heart defect? What does it mean to live knowing your heart will one day fail you? How do you walk without moving a muscle?
In Pacemaker, poet David Toms deftly blends creative nonfiction, poetry and diary in an account of resisting, confronting, and living with a rare heart condition. His experience, including his hospitalisation during the Covid-19 pandemic, speaks to all of us in its exploration of what it means to live in a fragile yet resilient body, to walk multiple challenging paths, and to always a find a way to keep moving.
Pacemaker is a rare volume, a deeply considered meditation on the heart and the stride that encompasses so much more besides. It trembles with the truth of a self, articulated with an eloquence seldom encountered. David Toms has written a beautiful, beautiful book – I loved it.Doireann Ní Ghríofa
In Her Jaws by Rosamund Taylor
9781838312640, PB, £8.99, 19/5/2022
A daring poetry collection that reimagines history, astronomy, sorcery, wild landscapes and queer love through the lens of transformation and survival.
In her debut collection, Rosamund Taylor dares us across thresholds and invites us to glimpse the world as we’ve never seen it before. She boldly charts a journey of survival and transformation with poems on history reimagined, astronomy, sorcery, wild landscapes, talismanic creatures, and queer love.
Taylor explores what it means to live in a female body that is not defined by lack, or want, or perpetual suffering, but is possessed by a real and defined sense of erotic autonomy.
In Her Jaws is a landmark debut that extends and deepens the Irish tradition of writing the female perspective, while also breaking new ground. Taylor explores gender, sexuality, identity, neurodiversity, illness, history, and so much more — all with a voice that is playful, lyrical, and skilful.
X by Davey Davis
9781739784935, PB, £10.99, 27/10/2022
An electrifying novel about the creeping reality of political terror, and the violent pleasures found in Brooklyn’s queer heartlands. Part noir, part erotic thriller, X is a vivid, moody and darkly funny portrait of those living on the margins of an increasingly hostile society.
“Unconstrained by taboos and waist deep down in the maw of life.”–Torrey Peters
“X will leave you wet, hard, and implicated.”—Morgan M. Page
“A sexy and dangerous ride.”— Mikaella Clements
“Hardboiled style meets dyke drama.”—McKenzie Wark
“OH OH OH I FINISHED IT AND THREW MYSELF DOWN THE STAIRS.”—Leigh Cowart
Morbid Obsessions: On trans and sex worker bodies and writing fiction from the margins
by Frankie Miren & Alison Rumfitt
9781739784959, PB, £9.99, 29/9/2022
The histories of the trans and sex worker rights movements are closely intertwined and, particularly in the UK, it’s rare to find a carceral feminist who isn’t also a rabid transphobe. What does it mean to write as part of a community that is under attack? Where, in fiction, is the line between exploring harmful ideology and humanising it?
In Morbid Obsessions, Alison Rumfitt and Frankie Miren explore these questions and talk about the crossover in the ways they chose to approach them in their novels Tell Me I’m Worthless (Cipher Press) and The Service (Influx Press), covering the pornographic interest in sex workers and trans women, online violence, moral panic, creative representation, and paying tribute to sex worker and trans activism through fiction.
Frank, funny, and hopeful, and featuring two new stories and an introduction by writer and historian Morgan M. Page, Morbid Obsessions is an urgent and vital conversation about making art as a collective struggle. All proceeds (after production costs) from the sale of this book will be donated to Babeworld, a collective which seeks to create a more representative art world, and will go into direct grants to marginalised artists.
The Threat: How Digital Capitalism is Sexist And How to Resist by Lilia Giugni
9781912836970, HB, £16.99, 17/11/2022
A compelling and truly shocking investigation into the damage done to women by the digital revolution, laying bare the intersection of big tech, historic gender inequalities and profit driven politics.
The Threat exposes the triumvirate of vested interests — big tech, profit driven politics and historic gender inequalities — that has driven digital development away from gender equality, safety and respect. Dr Lilia Giugni highlights cases from around the world: from minority hate crime and revenge porn to female victims in the mining industries and supply chains. And she then gives us the tools both for personal safety and to create wider global change for a safer world for women and children.
“This book is part exposé and part feminist manifesto. It builds on five years of research and activism, and follows the invisible thread that connects the suicide of a young woman in a remote corner of Southern Italy to decisions made in corporate boardrooms, presidential palaces and the world’s other corridors of power.
Following this thread has led me to painfully question my own online habits and my political stance on the digital revolution. Along the way, I’ve met with digital violence survivors and cyber psychologists, Congolese mothers and Chinese factory workers, algorithm designers and AI engineers, politicians and tech company delegates. I’ve also visited schools, universities, campaign organisations’ premises and houses of parliaments, and I’ve exposed myself to much more online misogynistic content I thought I had the stomach for.
From an investigation prompted by anger at specific cases, my quest turned into an arguably more complex project. What you are holding in your hand is an analysis of the tight relationship between three dominant forces of modern life: patriarchy, capitalism and technology.”
Brutal Outer London by Simon Phipps
9781914613166, HB, £20, 27/10/2022
The first photographic exploration of the post war modernist architecture of Greater London, from Harrow and Croydon to Waltham Forest.
Simon Phipps’ photographs of the modernist architecture of Greater London explores the form and beauty of these post war buildings. Following on from his iconic first book, Brutal London, this sequel expands his survey beyond London’s inner zones through to the outer perimeters of London, encircled by the M25.
From Croydon to Thamesmead, Wood Green to Willesden, the modernist ambition, scale and structure of these buildings are starkly rendered in his acclaimed photographs. He offers us a chance to look at these everyday buildings in residential, retail and leisure hubs again and appreciate the civic optimism and bold architecture of the 60s and 70s.
Brutal Outer London is a design-led hardback. With maps and detailed listings of all architecture photographed, it enables readers to explore Brutalism on foot, train or bus across Outer London.
The finalists will compete to win their region first, before contending for the overall prize, which will be announced at The British Book Awards’ winner ceremony on 15th May 2023. The overall Small Press winner will also compete to be crowned Independent Publisher of the Year. The regional and country winners of the Small Press of the Year award will be announced on Wednesday 15th March 2023.