Tag Archives: Deep Vellum Publishing

Subscription Plans: A Great Way to Support Small Presses

In this post I will highlight some of my favorite small and indie presses that offer its readers subscription plans.  By offering subscriptions a press is able to fund upcoming publications and readers get a fantastic discount on books.  These are a few of my favorites and this is by no means an exhaustive list.   I have included links to all presses for those who want more information on each plan.  Please add any additional suggestions in the comments:

new-vessel-subscription-planNew Vessel Press: A subscription of New Vessel books includes all six of their books for the publication year.  Subscribers also get to choose one book from their backlist.  The cost is $80 which amounts to about 25% off of the cover prices.  I haven’t read a book from New Vessel yet that I haven’t enjoyed.  This year’s titles include If Venice Dies and A Very Russian Christmas so this subscription is definitely worth it.  New Vessel Subscription Page.

Two Lines Press:  I embarrassed myself with a gushing review of Two Lines 25, a collection of international writing for which the Two Lines editors have scoured the world.   A copy of Two Lines 25 is included with a subscription and to me that alone is worth the price of admission.  Two Lines is also one of my favorite subscriptions because every year they send some sort of book related gift to their subscribers.  This year is was a package of postcards which all contained quotes from their latest books.  A subscription for 2016 is only $40 ($80 International) and you get four fabulous books.  Two Lines Press Subscription Page

Deep Vellum: This non-profit press offers subscriptions of five or ten books and they also provide a few options with each subscriptions.  Readers can choose both paperback and ebook versions of their books for $60 or the ebook versions alone for $50.  International subscriptions are a bit more pricey at $150.  But Deep Vellum also puts out a large variety of fantastic books that are translated from languages around the world. Deep Vellum Subscription Page.

Archipelago Books: Archipelago is also a non-profit press dedicated to publishing contemporary and classic world literature.  A one-year subscription of print books which archipelago-subscriptionincludes twelve of their titles is $170.  A full-year of ebooks is $70 and a half year subscription for six books is also $70. They provide a lot of choices depending on one’s budget.  Subscribers who are really passionate about their books and want to spend some money up front can also purchase two or three year subscriptions. Archipelago Books Subscription Page

And Other Stories: This is one of my favorite book subscriptions because they offer a recurring subscription.  I don’t have to worry about there being a gap in the books I receive because I’ve forgotten to renew.  I wish that other publishers would follow suit and also do an auto renewal option.  I was very impressed that And Other Stories sent out a lengthy survey recently to its subscribers asking for ways in which they could improve their service.  They also offer a range of options to fit different budgets: 6 books a year for £50 in UK/Europe/USA/Canada (approx $80 US), 4 books a year for £35 in UK/Europe/USA/Canada (approx $55 US), 2 books a year for £20 in UK/Europe/USA/Canada (approx $32 US).  And Other Stories also prints the names of subscribers in their books since it is the funds from these readers that have helped to publish their books. And Other Stories Subscription Page

Open Letter: This small press also specializes in world literature in English translation (notice a theme here.)  One of my favorite books this year,  The Brother by Rein Raud, has been translated from the Estonian and published by Open Letter.  They offer a six month subscription for $60 or a twelve month subscription for $100.  Shipping is free within the U.S. for both subscriptions.  I love that each new release comes with a letter from the publisher which explains the book and how they came to publish it.  Open Letter Subscription Page

Persephone Books: Persephone specializes in reprinting neglected fiction and non-fiction by (mostly) female twentieth century writers.  A friend who has impeccable taste in books sent me a copy of Greenery Street and I have been hooked on their titles ever since!  They offer a six month subscription for £60 or a twelve month subscription for £120.  For an additional fee they will also gift wrap the books.  Subscribers get to choose which books they would like to receive from their catalog of 120 titles.  My husband bought me a Persephone twelve month subscription for my birthday last year and it was delightful to receive a new Persephone title each month.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.  Persephone Books Subscription Page

nyrbplustpr-450pxThe New York Review of Books:  This press also specializes in reissuing lost classics from different countries around the world.  They call their product a “book club” but it is essentially a subscription service.   For $140 members receive a book every month for 12 months and the membership automatically renews.  For a limited time NYRB is also offering a four issue subscription to The Paris Review when readers purchase a membership.  I can’t get enough of the books from NYRB classics and I might have to buy a storage unit to house all of my books from their catalog.  I will pretty much read anything they publish and $140 is a pretty good bargain for a year’s worth of their books.  NYRB Book Club Page

Melville House: This indie press based in New York publishes a series called “The Art of the Novella.”  They have published classic novellas written by Chekov, Tolstoy, Melville and Woolfe just to name a few.  Subscribers can choose a hard copy book for $12.99 per month, an ebook for $6.99 per month or both for $17.99 per month.  Subscribers are automatically billed monthly until they choose to opt out of the service.  This is a great option for someone who wants to try a subscription and not spend a lot of money.  Melville House Novella Subscription Page

Peirene Press: Peirene specializes in contemporary European novellas and short novels in English translation. All of their books are best-sellers and/or award-winners in their own countries. They only publish books of less than 200 pages that can be read in the same time it takes to watch a DVD. As an added bonus, their books are beautifully designed paperback editions, using only the best paper from sustainable British sources.  A one-year Peirene subscription is £35.00 and members receive a book every four months.  There is also the option to sign up for automatic renewal (UK only). Peirene Press Subscription Page   Peirene has also decided to crowd fund Peirene Now! No. 2 on kickstarter. For a pledge of only £12 supporters will receive a copy of the book which looks like another fantastic and thought-provoking read.  Peirene Now! 2 Kickstarter Page

Pushkin Press: A one year subscription to Pushkin Press is £95.00 and subscribers receive one book each month from the Pushkin Collection, a %25 discount on all purchases from the pushkin-collectionPushkin online bookshop, and a free copy of Stefan Zweig’s novella Confusion.   The Pushkin Collection is a series of paperbacks typeset in Monotype Baskerville, based on the transitional English serif typeface designed in the mid-eighteenth century by John Baskerville. It was litho-printed on Munken Premium White Paper and notch-bound by the independently owned printer TJ International in Padstow, Cornwall.  The cover, with French flaps, was printed on Colorplan Pristine White paper. Pushkin Press Subscription Page

Vibrant Margins:  Ben Winston has started this fantastic subscription service that delivers to its subscribers a variety of books from several different small presses.  According to the website, “Great novels from small presses are out there. Let us find them and deliver them to your doorstep.”  For their debut season they have chosen titles from Dzanc Books, Restless Books, Lanternfish Press, Unthank Books, The Heart and the Hand Press, and New Door Books. Subscribers receive a new book every month and can choose two, three or six books for as low as $15.33 per book.  This is a great way to try a variety of small press books.  I will be reviewing two of the titles from their debut season later in the month and doing a giveaway.  So stay tuned!  Vibrant Margins Bookstore Page

For my next post maybe I will dare to dive into the world of literary magazines!



Filed under Opinion Posts

Review: Voroshilovgrad by Serhiy Zhadan

I received a review copy of this title from Deep Vellum Publishing through Edelweiss.  The original title was published in the original Ukranian in 2010 and this English version has been translated by Reilly Costigan-Humes and Isaac Wheeler.

My Review:
VoroshilovgradThis book can only be described as a literary Odyssey, a roaming adventure through the crumbling town of Voroshilovgrad and its surroundings in the post-Soviet period.  The plot offers so much more than Herman’s bizarre story as he attempts to run his brother’s gas station; we are confronted by a poetic journey through the landscape of Ukraine and a up close look at the unique people who inhabit this part of what once was Soviet territory.

The landscape, described in painstakingly detailed and poetic prose, is an important and prominent character in the book.  The gas station is old and falling apart and Kocha, an employee, lives in a trailer out back.  The airport, which is no longer used, is fighting against nature which threatens to take its territory back.  An old Soviet youth Pioneer camp is abandoned but its library which is full of books about Lenin is still intact.  Even the hotel is described as a “partially sunken ship.”  Everyone is trying to survive and somehow carve out an existence despite the decaying world around them.

The most important theme of the book is one of loyalty;  the characters display a remarkable amount of  loyalty to their decaying home and to each other.  The city of Voroshilovgrad technically doesn’t even exist anymore as its reverted back to its old Ukranian name of Luhask.  The place is an odd mixture of past and present: everyone is driving around in old, beat up cars, wearing outdated knock-off designer clothes and no ones cell phone works.  When Herman arrives at his brother’s gas station, the two employees, Injured and Kocha, are mistrustful of Herman because they think that at any moment he will abandon them and go back to his white collar office job in the city of Kharkiv.  Injured and Kocha are faithful employees of Herman’s brother Yura who has mysteriously left town.  Herman calls his brother repeatedly but is unable to solve the mystery of his sudden departure from his life and his business.

Herman intends to stay in Voroshilovgrad for a day or two but the people and the experiences and his sense of responsibility keep him there indefinitely.  Many of the adventures he has are ones that celebrate life and community.  Injured, who once was the start striker on the local soccer team, recruits Herman to play a soccer game against their old rivals, the “gas guys” who live on the edge of town.  The gas guys were transplanted from somewhere in the north and were hired by the government to source natural gas in the area.  Herman’s old friends and the gas guys are a bunch of rough-and-tumble, worn out, tattooed men who act like children during this game.  There is a hilarious argument over who won the game and when a fist fight breaks out between Herman’s own team members the gas guys timidly back down.

Herman is also treated to adventures that involve a wedding among a group of smugglers, a brief stay at a nomad Mongul camp, and a funeral for a local woman who has died.  Each of these adventures have a humorous side because of the bizarre settings and interesting characters involved.  The smugglers so appreciate Herman’s attendance at the wedding that they give him a pair of electric scissors, but are sorry to inform him that they don’t come with a warranty.

But each of Herman’s adventures also have a serious undertone as there is always a sense of danger looming about.  Herman is also being threatened by a group of local Oligarchs who are trying to force him to sell his gas station.  But once again loyalty works in Herman’s favor when his friends show up to help him out; despite any danger they might face, they would not think of having it any other way.  Life in this city is not easy for Herman or for anyone else but a sense of belonging in this decrepit place is what keeps Herman in Voroshilovgrad permanently.

The word Odyssey keeps coming to mind as I think about this book.  The various road trips and trips on foot that Herman takes, his encounters with villains and good people trying to help him make for a meandering and adventurous story full of strange characters.  All the while Herman gravitates towards home which, in his heart, is where he knows he truly wants to be.

For an excerpt of this book and more information please visit the Deep Vellum website: http://deepvellum.org/product/voroshilovgrad/

About the Author:
ZhadanSerhiy Zhadan is one of the key voices in contemporary Ukrainian literature: his poetry and novels have enjoyed popularity both at home and abroad. He has twice won BBC Ukraine’s Book of the Year (2006 and 2010) and has twice been nominated as Russian GQ’s “Man of the Year” in their writers category. Writing is just one of his many interests, which also include singing in a band, translating poetry and organizing literary festivals. Zhadan was born in Starobilsk, Luhansk Oblast, and graduated from Kharkiv University in 1996, then spent three years as a graduate student of philology. He taught Ukrainian and world literature from 2000 to 2004, and thereafter retired from teaching. Zhadan’s poetry, novels, and short stories have been translated into over a dozen languages. In 2013, he helped lead the Euromaidan demonstrations in Kharkiv, and in 2014, he was assaulted outside the administration building in Kharkiv, an incident that gained notoriety around the world, including a feature article in the New Yorker. He lives and works in Kharkiv.


Filed under Russian Literature

Review: Seeing Red by Lina Meruane

I received an review copy of this title from Deep Vellum Publishing through Edelweiss.  This English version of Seeing Red has been translated by Megan McDowell.

My Review:
Seeing RedOur senses are our most precious natural gifts because it is through them that we are able to experience the world.  At one point we have all probably wondered what it would be like to lose our hearing or our sight or our sense of smell.  In Seeing Red, we are given a vivid understanding, through the character of Lina, of what it is like to lose one’s sight.  Lina, a young woman attending graduate school in Manhattan and living with her boyfriend Ignacio, suddenly loses her vision.  She has been a diabetic all of her life and from what we are told about her medical history in the book, the blood vessels in her eyes have burst and have caused her blindness.  She knows that this is coming and the opening of the book is the moment at which her nightmare comes true.

The title is both literally and figuratively appropriate for the story.  Lina actually sees red as her blood vessels burst and block her vision; her anger at the loss of her most precious sense makes her severely angry, thus causing her to figuratively “see red.”  The tone and setting of the first scene in the book during which Lina and Ignacio are at a party are unexpected.  It is at this party when her site begins to fade and when she realizes what is happening she calmly asks Ignacio to take her home.  They stay at the party for a while longer and when they finally take a taxi home their ride is also rather serene.  But this is the last moment of peace because it is from this point onwards that her anger and her anxiety build.

I was not surprised to find out that the author herself suffered from an episode of blindness because of a stroke.  Her personal experience with the loss of her sight made the story all the more convincing.  There are so many aspects of her life to which she must readjust; Lina has to learn how to navigate the streets of Manhattan, to walk around her apartment without injuring herself, and eat at a table without knocking over drinks.   The author’s own experience with blindness gives her writing a unique authenticity that provides us with a comprehensive understanding of what it means to lose this sense.

It is very uncomfortable and upsetting to walk through Lina’s life with her as she is trying to adjust to her blindness.  One of the hardest aspects of this situation for her to deal with is the ways in which other people act towards her.  Ignacio, her boyfriend, is a faithful and loving companion.  He washes her eyes and changes her bandages when she has surgery, he goes to her doctor’s appointments with her and he even spends a month with Lina and her family in Chile.  But there are times when even Ignacio loses his patience because of  Lina’s clumsiness.

The episode that was the most memorable in the book is one that takes place while they are visiting Chile.  Lina carefully and meticulously packs her own suitcase by feeling each article of clothing and putting the heavier clothes on the bottom of her suitcase and the lighter items on top.  Lina’s mother, in an attempt to be helpful,  unpacks and repacks Lina’s entire suitcase.  This causes Lina to be emotionally distraught because, as she explains between bouts of yelling and crying,  she wants to do simple tasks her own way and not have to be constantly dependent on others.  It is difficult for her loved ones to attempt to help Lina but without making her feel helpless.

Seeing Red is disturbing and uncomfortable but so worth the read.  I hope that Meurane’s books will continue to be translated into English so I can read additional works of hers in the future.  Thanks to Deep Vellum one of my favorite small presses, for bringing us a wonderful selection of literature from around the world.  Please visit their website for more fantastic translated literature: http://deepvellum.org/

About the Author:
L MeruaneLina Meruane is one of the most prominent and influential female voices in Chilean contemporary literature. A novelist, essayist, and cultural journalist, she is the author of a host of short stories that have appeared in various anthologies and magazines in Spanish, English, German and French. She has also published a collection of short stories, Las Infantas (Chile 1998, Argentina 2010), as well as three novels: Póstuma (2000), Cercada (2000), and Fruta Podrida (2007). The latter won the Best Unpublished Novel Prize awarded by Chile’s National Council of the Culture and the Arts in 2006. She won the Anna Seghers Prize, awarded to her by the Akademie der Künste, in Berlin, Germany in 2011 for her entire body of written work. Meruane received the prestigious Mexican Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize in 2012 for Seeing Red. Meruane has received writing grants from the Arts Development Fund of Chile (1997), the Guggenheim Foundation (2004), and National Endowment for the Arts (2010). She received her PhD in Latin American Literature from New York University, where she currently serves as professor of World and Latin American Literature and Creative Writing. She also serves as editor of Brutas Editoras, an independent publishing house located in New York City, where she lives between trips back to Chile.


Filed under Literature in Translation, Spanish Literature