STARRED REVIEW
May 04, 2020

19 can’t-miss reads from independent publishers

Independent publishers are an important part of the publishing ecosystem, nurturing new voices, experimenting with style and tone and taking chances on topics that others might consider too niche. Here are a few of our favorite recent indie reads, in all genres. 
STARRED REVIEW
May 04, 2020

19 can’t-miss reads from independent publishers

Independent publishers are an important part of the publishing ecosystem, nurturing new voices, experimenting with style and tone and taking chances on topics that others might consider too niche. Here are a few of our favorite recent indie reads, in all genres. 
May 04, 2020

19 can’t-miss reads from independent publishers

Independent publishers are an important part of the publishing ecosystem, nurturing new voices, experimenting with style and tone and taking chances on topics that others might consider too niche. Here are a few of our favorite recent indie reads, in all genres. 
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Independent publishers are an important part of the publishing ecosystem, nurturing new voices, experimenting with style and tone and taking chances on boundary-pushing topics. Here are a few of our favorite recent indie reads, in all genres. 


Fiction 

Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett (Tin House)

This astonishing debut novel, set in Florida, is both a new entry in the long history of great fiction about grief and a darkly comic flight of brilliance.

The Beadworkers by Beth Piatote (Counterpoint)

Nez Perce writer and professor Beth Piatote strings together stories of Native American life like the intricate strands of a handmade necklace.

The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickles (Hub City)

A prodigal son makes a difficult return home in this sensitive novel, which offers some surprises and a couple of unlikely, brave heroes.

The Revisioners by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton (Counterpoint)

This striking second novel from the author of A Kind of Freedom is a passionate exploration of liberty, heritage, sisterhood and motherhood in New Orleans.


Nonfiction

A Polar Affair by Lloyd Spencer Davis (Pegasus)

Lloyd Spencer Davis writes with wit and a wry, irrepressible sense of humor, while imparting everything there is to know about penguins.

The Magical Language of Others by E.J. Koh (Tin House)

An engaging, literary take on language and its role in the diaspora of a scattered family, this memoir speaks from—and to—the heart.

Earth Almanac by Ken Keffer (Skipstone)

This unusual title is a beautifully illustrated book of phenology, the interconnection of living things through seasonal change.

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf)

To simply call In the Dream House a memoir is to give short shrift to the exquisite strangeness and formal innovation that Carmen Maria Machado achieves.

Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl (Milkweed)

The essays that compose Late Migrations offer glimpses into loss and living as they toggle between Renkl’s past and present across the Southern U.S.

What It Is by Clifford Thompson (Other Press)

In this unconventional memoir, the reader experiences, via Thompson’s plaintive and disillusioned voice, the discomfort of personal recalibration.


Mystery & Suspense

The Missing American by Kwei Quartey (Soho Crime)

Scams abound in this unique mystery set in Africa, overlaid with a witch doctor (or two) and a trio of likable, if occasionally gullible, protagonists. 

Cheap Heat by Daniel M. Ford (Santa Fe Writers Project)

Cheap Heat contains no cheap thrills; there’s a big heart and quick mind at the helm.

Silence on Cold River by Casey Dunn (Pegasus)

This masterful new novel doesn’t feel like a suspense debut but rather the work of a genre veteran.

The Body in the Garden by Katharine Schellman (Crooked Lane)

Readers will be eager for more after finishing this smashing debut set in Regency England, which sensitively handles issues of race and class alongside a nail-biting plot. 

The Body Outside the Kremlin by James L. May (Delphinium)

Historical, atmospheric (in a frigid sort of way) and exceptionally well-written, The Body Outside the Kremlin is a first-rate debut.


Children’s Books

Birdie by Eileen Spinelli (Eerdmans)

In this moving middle grade novel in verse, a resilient girl learns that friends and family help the heart grow and that moving forward in life doesn’t mean forgetting the past.

Small in the City by Sydney Smith (Neal Porter)

Small in the City is a parable as hushed as falling winter snow, offering hope and reassurance in the face of uncertainty and fear.

Story Boat by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Rashin Kheiriyeh (Tundra)

Luminous and thought-provoking, Story Boat meditates on the meanings of here and home and explores the power of imagination and empathy.

Where’s Baby? by Anne Hunter (Tundra)

A hapless father fox sets out to find his cheeky baby pup in Anne Hunter’s fresh and entertaining picture book.

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