Chicago Publishers: Spotlight on… Other Voices Books

In addition to talking about Chicago authors this month, I also want to highlight some of the great publishers based out of Chicago.

For my inaugural Chicago Publisher Spotlight, I wanted to tell you all about a fairly recent discovery of mine, Other Voices Books. I’ve chosen to start with them for a number of reason: I cannot wait to read some of their books, particularly after Margie and Sue from The Bookstore talked so much about Billy Lombardo’s “How to Hold a Woman” (more about this title later this month!); they are a Chicago press with a number of Chicago authors; in 2005 they were one of the first fiction-centered independent publishers to emerge in Chicago, and; they are highly committed to the Chicago literary community and to helping Chicago become more prominent in the publishing community.

But let me tell you why you should care about Other Voices Books!

The genesis for Other Voices Books was the literary magazine Other Voices (1984-2007) by the magazine’s Editor Gina Frangello and a contributing editor, Stacey Bierlein. The mission of the press is to champion short fiction, whether in short stories, novels in stories, or themed anthologies. They feel this is an important goal in an industry that, as they say, “has increasingly marginalized the short story form.” It all started when they held a contest and published the winning short story collection as a book. That first book, “Simply,” ended up the only indie book to be a SCIBA Award finalist that year. Frangello tells me that their “interest is in bold and vibrant literary fiction that is rich in character, takes emotional risks, and is accessible and engaging.”

Another thing I find very interesting about Other Voices (although maybe this is just me, dork that I am), is their operating model. They were essentially the first imprint of Dzanc Books, another independent publisher. There are now 7 not-for-profit imprints of Dzanc, which now all collaborate on printing, design, and marketing, and share a distribution channel. I could be wrong, but this seems like an incredibly smart model for a boutique press like Other Voices which publishes 1 or 2 titles every year, giving that author or two their full attention.

Other Voices’ books, beginning with the most recent:
Currency” by Zoe Zolbrod* (Chicago author)
Other Resort Cities” by Tod Goldberg – one of the stories from this collection has been optioned by FX for a tv series
How to Hold a Woman” by Billy Lombardo (Chicago author)
Things That Pass for Love” by Allison Amend – IPPY Bronze Medal winner (Chicago author)
A Stranger Among Us: Stories of Cross-Cultural Collision and Connection” edited by Stacy Bierlein – IPPY Gold Medal and International Book Award winner
O Street” by Corina Wycoff – Lambda Award finalist
Simplify” by Tod Goldberg – SCIBA Award finalist

*Note: “Currency” is Other Voices Books’ first novel, and the first book in their Morgan Street International Novel series. They are in the process of expanding their vision to include novels set outside of the United States, another area in which they feel American literature is in deficit.