Hot Off the Press: New Reads From Twin Cities Publishers

Who said publishing is only for the coasts? Nestled midway between New York’s publishing mecca and the presses dotting the West Coast, lays an oasis of independent literary presses in Minneapolis. Emerging as nonprofit houses in the early to mid-80s, these three publishers – Graywolf Press, Milkweed Editions and Coffee House Press – have served as the bastion of Twin Cities’ lit culture for decades.

All of the presses are small outfits, operated by lean and dedicated staff, and produce ten to twenty books a year. Each has their own distinctive voice and focus, from metamorphosis to multiculturalism, sustainability to subversive poetic form. With titles regularly garnering prestigious awards and accolades, these small houses have big reputations and are gearing up for autumn and winter with some promising reads. Take a sneak peek at a few books in their literary line-up launching in the coming months.

Inferno” | contemporary translation by Mary Jo Bang

From Graywolf comes a contemporary twist on an Italian classic. Mary Jo Bang transcribes Dante’s medieval cantos into 21st century colloquialisms, replete with Pink Floyd and “Star Trek” references. “Inferno” nailed a starred review fromPublishers Weekly who described the book as “scholarly and irreverent.” Bang’s translationjust hit shelves this month—so you have few excuses not to grab it now.

“Empty Hands, Open Arms” | nonfiction by Deni Béchard (Milkweed

Deni Béchard, a versatile author who has already published both a novel and a memoir with Milkweed, is debuting his first nonfiction title this October. Drawing from his experience working with the Bonobo Conservation Initiative in the Congolese rainforest, his book chronicles one group’s attempt to preserve a threatened species in a volatile region. The book, and Béchard’s nationwide tour kick off this month, including a stop at Minneapolis’s Uptown bookstore, Magers & Quinn, on October 24.

“The Rise and Fall of the Scandamerican Domestic” | stories by Christopher Merkner (Coffee House Press)

Coffee House launches debutante author, Christopher Merkner this winter, with “The Rise & Fall of the Scandamerican Domestic” — a short story collection. These earnest and darkly surreal vignettes hold a magnifying glass over Midwestern suburbia. The book is available for pre-order and comes out in January 2014 — just in time for cozy winter reading