Indie Press Spotlight: Graywolf Press

Every month here at BookPeople we like to spotlight a smaller, independent publishing house that we love. These Indie Presses are helping to push the literary world forward with unique and adventurous work and we’re proud to showcase their titles in our store. This month check out the wonderful Graywolf Press!

Like many indie presses, Graywolf has humble origins. In 1974, working out of a shed in the Pacific Northwest, Graywolf first began turning out hand-bound chapbooks of poetry. Instructions to the Double by Tess Gallagher was their first full length collection published in 1976 and also their first taste of commercial success. Here’s a link to a fantastic article by Gallagher who’s still publishing with Graywolf forty years later! In the mid-1980s, Graywolf incorporated as a non-profit organization and moved their whole operation to Saint Paul, Minnesota. Since then they have expanded to include works of fiction and non-fiction and recently boast 2016 MacArthur Genius Award Winners Claudia Rankine and Maggie Nelson among their authors.

Here’s a list of Graywolf titles we’re excited about:


All That Man Is
by David Szalay

A magnificent and ambitiously conceived portrait of contemporary life, by a genius of realism

Nine men. Each of them at a different stage in life, each of them away from home, and each of them striving–in the suburbs of Prague, in an overdeveloped Alpine village, beside a Belgian motorway, in a dingy Cyprus hotel–to understand what it means to be alive, here and now. Tracing a dramatic arc from the spring of youth to the winter of old age, the ostensibly separate narratives of All That Man Is aggregate into a picture of a single shared existence, a picture that interrogates the state of modern manhood while bringing to life, unforgettably, the physical and emotional terrain of an increasingly globalized Europe. And so these nine lives form an ingenious and new kind of novel, in which David Szalay expertly plots a dark predicament for the twenty-first-century man.

Dark and disturbing, but also often wickedly comic, All That Man Is is notable for the acute psychological penetration Szalay brings to bear on his characters, from the working-class ex-grunt to the pompous college student, the middle-aged loser to the Russian oligarch. Steadily and mercilessly, as this brilliantly conceived book progresses, the protagonist at the center of each chapter is older than the last one, it gets colder out, and All That Man Is gathers exquisite power. Szalay is a writer of supreme gifts–a master of a new kind of realism that vibrates with detail, intelligence, relevance, and devastating pathos.

About David Szalay
David Szalay is the author of London and the South-East, which won the Betty Trask Prize and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize; The Innocent; and Spring. In 2013 he was named one of Granta‘s Best of Young British Novelists. He lives in Budapest.

Grief Is The Thing With Feathers
by Max Porter

Here he is, husband and father, scruffy romantic, a shambolic scholar–a man adrift in the wake of his wife’s sudden, accidental death. And there are his two sons who like him struggle in their London apartment to face the unbearable sadness that has engulfed them. The father imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness, while the boys wander, savage and unsupervised.

In this moment of violent despair they are visited by Crow–antagonist, trickster, goad, protector, therapist, and babysitter. This self-described “sentimental bird,” at once wild and tender, who “finds humans dull except in grief,” threatens to stay with the wounded family until they no longer need him. As weeks turn to months and the pain of loss lessens with the balm of memories, Crow’s efforts are rewarded and the little unit of three begins to recover: Dad resumes his book about the poet Ted Hughes; the boys get on with it, grow up.

Part novella, part polyphonic fable, part essay on grief, Max Porter’s extraordinary debut combines compassion and bravura style to dazzling effect. Full of angular wit and profound truths, Grief Is the Thing with Feathers is a startlingly original and haunting debut by a significant new talent.

About Max Porter
Max Porter works in publishing. He lives in South London with his wife and children. Grief Is the Thing with Feathers is his first book.

The Argonauts: A Memoir
by Maggie Nelson

Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts is a genre-bending memoir, a work of “autotheory” offering fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity, and the limitations and possibilities of love and language. At its center is a romance: the story of the author’s relationship with the artist Harry Dodge. This story, which includes Nelson’s account of falling in love with Dodge, who is fluidly gendered, as well as her journey to and through a pregnancy, is an intimate portrayal of the complexities and joys of (queer) family-making.

Writing in the spirit of public intellectuals such as Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes, Nelson binds her personal experience to a rigorous exploration of what iconic theorists have said about sexuality, gender, and the vexed institutions of marriage and child-rearing. Nelson’s insistence on radical individual freedom and the value of caretaking becomes the rallying cry of this thoughtful, unabashed, uncompromising book.

About Maggie Nelson
Maggie Nelson is a poet, critic, and nonfiction author of books such as The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning, Bluets, and Jane: A Murder. She teaches in the School of Critical Studies at CalArts and lives in Los Angeles, California.


On Immunity: An Inoculation
by Eula Biss

Upon becoming a new mother, Eula Biss addresses a chronic condition of fear-fear of the government, the medical establishment, and what is in your child’s air, food, mattress, medicine, and vaccines. She finds that you cannot immunize your child, or yourself, from the world.
In this bold, fascinating book, Biss investigates the metaphors and myths surrounding our conception of immunity and its implications for the individual and the social body. As she hears more and more fears about vaccines, Biss researches what they mean for her own child, her immediate community, America, and the world, both historically and in the present moment. She extends a conversation with other mothers to meditations on Voltaire’s Candide, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Susan Sontag’s AIDS and Its Metaphors, and beyond. On Immunity is a moving account of how we are all interconnected-our bodies and our fates.

About Eula Biss
Eula Biss is the author of Notes from No Man’s Land, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism, and The Balloonists. Her essays have appeared in the Believer and Harper’s Magazine. She teaches at Northwestern University and lives in Chicago, Illinois.


I Refuse
by Per Petterson
Translated By: Don Bartlett

Per Petterson’s hotly anticipated new novel, I Refuse, is the work of an internationally acclaimed novelist at the height of his powers. In Norway the book has been a huge bestseller, and rights have already been sold into sixteen countries. In his signature spare style, Petterson weaves a tale of two men whose accidental meeting one morning recalls their boyhood thirty-five years ago. Back then, Tommy was separated from his sisters after he stood up to their abusive father. Jim was by Tommy’s side through it all. But one winter night, a chance event on a frozen lake forever changed the balance of their friendship. Now Jim fishes alone on a bridge as Tommy drives by in a new Mercedes, and it’s clear their fortunes have reversed. Over the course of the day, the life of each man will be irrevocably altered. I Refuse is a powerful, unforgettable novel, and its publication is an event to be celebrated.

About Per Petterson
Per Petterson won the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for his novel Out Stealing Horses, which has been translated into forty-nine languages and was named a Best Book of 2007 by The New York Times Book Review.

Citizen: An American Lyric
by Claudia Rankin

Claudia Rankine’s bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV–everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society.

About Claudia Rankin
Claudia Rankine is the author of four previous books, including Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric. She currently is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and teaches at Pomona College.


Wait Till You See Me Dance (Available March 21st)
Deb Olin Unferth
Deb Olin Unferth is a local Austin writer and we’re thrilled to have her in the store for a talk and book signing on Wednesday March 29th at 7:00pm!
Wait Till You See Me Dance consists of several extraordinary longer stories as well as a selection of intoxicating very short stories. In the chilling “The First Full Thought of Her Life,” a shooter gets in position while a young girl climbs a sand dune. In “Voltaire Night,” students compete to tell a story about the worst thing that ever happened to them. In “Stay Where You Are,” two oblivious travelers in Central America are kidnapped by a gunman they assume to be an insurgent—but the gunman has his own problems.
An Unferth story lures you in with a voice that seems amiable and lighthearted, but it swerves in sudden and surprising ways that reveal, in terrifying clarity, the rage, despair, and profound mournfulness that have taken up residence at the heart of the American dream. These stories often take place in an exaggerated or heightened reality, a quality that is reminiscent of the work of Donald Barthelme, Lorrie Moore, and George Saunders, but in Unferth’s unforgettable collection she carves out territory that is entirely her own.
About Deb Olin Unferth
Deb Olin Unferth is the author of Minor Robberies, Vacation, and Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War, which was a finalist for a National Book Critics Circle Award in autobiography. She lives in Austin, Texas.

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