Indie Press Spotlight: Seven Stories

 

SevenStories

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 Seven Stories Press!

Seven Stories began in the mid-1980s when founder Dan Simon discovered the books of Nelson Algren – all of which had gone out of print. With the help of friends and colleagues, Simon secured the rights to reprint Algren’s catalog under the new press Four Walls Eight Windows. Following early success, the press grew until it split into two houses, one keeping the name Four Walls Eight Windows and the other becoming Seven Stories Press spearheaded by Simon. The name Seven Stories comes from the seven authors who first signed with the new imprint: Octavia E. Butler, Annie Ernaux, Gary Null, Project Censored, Charley Rosen, Vassilis Vassilikos, and the estate of Nelson Algren.

The small press gained international attention following the publication of the book 9-11: Was There an Alternative by social critic and linguist Noam Chomsky. This little book catapulted to the bestseller list and in the months following the 2001 terrorist attacks became one of the most influential and concise works of dissent leading up to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Whether fiction or non-fiction, poetry or prose, Seven Stories is known for publishing work that addresses the challenging or pressing social issues of our time. From their website:

Our credo is that publishers have a special responsibility to defend free speech and human rights, and to celebrate the gifts of the human imagination wherever we can.

To achieve this mission, Seven Stories also makes a point to release books that were previously refused publication for political reasons, like Dark Alliance by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb and The Others by Seba al-Herz. And every year, Seven Stories publishes two important, regular volumes that are applauded by journalists everywhere: the Human Rights Watch’s World Report and the Censored series, a catalog of newsworthy stories that have been underrepresented the previous year.

To these ends, Seven Stories Press remains an important vehicle for bringing many otherwise marginalized and dissentient voices across the globe to the larger reading public. We’re proud to carry and showcase their books at BookPeople

Here are some Seven Stories Press Books we are excited about (and be sure to check out our special Seven Stories display on the first floor!):


Syrian Dust: Reporting from the Heart of War

by Francesca Borri
translated by Anne Milano Appel

August 21, 2013: a chemical weapons attack on the suburbs of Damascus reminds the world of the existence of the Syrian war. Hundreds of journalists from every corner of the world rush to the frontier only to leave disappointed when Obama decides not to bomb. They leave behind 200,000 estimated victims, and more than half of a population of 22 million people dispersed or refugeed in nearby countries: the worst humanitarian crisis since WWII according to the UN.

Francesca Borri is one of them. But she does not leave. She is thirty years old. For months she covers the battle of Aleppo as a freelance reporter. And she quickly realizes that to report a war is to hide with dozens of women and children, even a baby, born there, in a grave, ’a piece of soil under the ground that is as expensive as three houses’ or to scavenge for anything to burn for some warmth, ’a broken slipper, the plastic hand of a toy’ or to mistake bloody figments of skull for rubble. To report a war is also to meet with officials more worried about the stain of snow on their Clarks than the people they are supposed to help. It is to explain what is happening in Aleppo to journalists who have only been there once, on vacation, and bought a carpet. It is risking one’s life because of the jealousy of a fellow reporter. And it is also about dreaming of driving at night with the windows open, about remembering impossible little things, the particular light on that day in that café at the beach when you were a kid, the eyes of people you love, all the minuscule simple joys that can be lost in a moment.

Syrian Dust is a raw and powerful account of the Syrian war that throws the reader right in the middle of it, without any shelter.

The Myth of Human Supremacy 
by Derrick Jensen

In this impassioned polemic, radical environmental philosopher Derrick Jensen debunks the near-universal belief in a hierarchy of nature and the superiority of humans. Vast and underappreciated complexities of nonhuman life are explored in detail—from the cultures of pigs and prairie dogs, to the creative use of tools by elephants and fish, to the acumen of caterpillars and fungi. The paralysis of the scientific establishment on moral and ethical issues is confronted and a radical new framework for assessing the intelligence and sentience of nonhuman life is put forth.

Jensen attacks mainstream environmental journalism, which too often limits discussions to how ecological changes affect humans or the economy—with little or no regard for nonhuman life. With his signature compassionate logic, he argues that when we separate ourselves from the rest of nature, we in fact orient ourselves against nature, taking an unjust and, in the long run, impossible position.

Jensen expresses profound disdain for the human industrial complex and its ecological excesses, contending that it is based on the systematic exploitation of the earth. Page by page, Jensen, who has been called the philosopher-poet of the environmental movement, demonstrates his deep appreciation of the natural world in all its intimacy, and sounds an urgent call for its liberation from human domination.

The Little Communist Who Never Smiled
by Lola Lafon
translated by Nick Caistor

An award-winning novel powerfully re-imagines a childhood in the spotlight of history, politics, and destiny. Montreal 1976. A fourteen-year-old girl steps out onto the floor of the Montreal Forum and into history. Twenty seconds on uneven bars is all it takes for Nadia Comaneci, the slight, unsmiling child from Communist Romania, to etch herself into the collective memory. The electronic scoreboard, astonishing spectators with what has happened, shows 1.0. The judges have awarded an unprecedented perfect ten, the first in Olympic gymnastics, though the scoreboard is unable to register anything higher than 9.9. In The Little Communist Who Never Smiled, Lola Lafon tells the story of Comaneci’s journey from growing up in rural Romania to her eventual defection to the United States in 1989. Adored by young girls in the west and appropriated as a political emblem by the Ceausescu regime, Comaneci’s life was scrutinized wherever she went. Lafon’s fictionalized account shows how a single athletic event mesmerizes the world and reverberates across nations.

Censored 2017 
edited by Mickey Huff, Andy lee Roth, Project Censored
illustrated by Khalil Bendib

The annual yearbook from Project Censored features the year’s most underreported news stories, striving to unmask censorship, self-censorship, and propaganda in corporate-controlled media outlets. Featuring the top 25 most underreported stories, as voted by scholars, journalists, and activists across the country and around the world, as well as chapters exploring timely issues from the previous year with more in-depth analysis.

Compañeras: Zapatista Women’s Stories
by Hilary Klein

Compañeras is the untold story of women’s involvement in the Zapatista movement, the indigenous rebellion that has inspired grassroots activists around the world for over two decades. Gathered here are the stories of grandmothers, mothers, and daughters who became guerilla insurgents and political leaders, educators and healers—who worked collectively to construct a new society of dignity and justice. Compañeras shows us how, after centuries of oppression, a few voices of dissent became a force of thousands, how a woman once confined to her kitchen rose to conduct peace negotiations with the Mexican government, and how hundreds of women overcame ingrained hardships to strengthen their communities from within.

America, We Need to Talk: A Self-Help Book for the Nation
by Joel Berg

How did we get here, America? How did our relationship get so broken? And where do we go now? Starting with the premise that Americans’ most important relationship is with their nation, Joel Berg’s second book, America We Need to Talk: A Self-Help Book for the Nation, makes a case for how we must both stop blaming the nation’s problems solely on “the politicians” or “the system” and take personal responsibility to solve them. Written as both a hilarious parody of relationship and self-help books and a deadly serious analysis of the nation’s political and economic dysfunction, the book dissects how Donald Trump and other Republicans won over white, working-class voters, and includes a concrete plan to win them back, and well as a broader roadmap for reducing poverty, bolstering the middle class, and powering an overall progressive resurgence.

As an acclaimed author, a frequent voice in the national media, and the outspoken CEO of the nonprofit group Hunger Free America, Joel Berg is a respected international leader in the fields of hunger, poverty, food, and US politics. Through his biting critique, clear-headed prescriptions, and amusing charts—this book shows how average Joes and Janes can channel their anger at our hobbled government into concrete actions that will fix our democracy, make our economy work for everyone, and restore our stature in the world as a beacon of freedom, diversity, and hope. The American people are in it for the long haul, and, as in all relationships, both sides must recognize their issues and work together to fix them. This book will do more than offer comfort for sobbing progressives—it will show the path to redemption

And BookPeople was fortunate enough to host Joel Berg last month for an event and we have signed copies of America, We Need to Talk available!

Are Prisons Obsolete?
by Angela Davis

With her characteristic brilliance, grace and radical audacity, Angela Y. Davis has put the case for the latest abolition movement in American life: the abolition of the prison. As she quite correctly notes, American life is replete with abolition movements, and when they were engaged in these struggles, their chances of success seemed almost unthinkable. For generations of Americans, the abolition of slavery was sheerest illusion. Similarly,the entrenched system of racial segregation seemed to last forever, and generations lived in the midst of the practice, with few predicting its passage from custom. The brutal, exploitative (dare one say lucrative?) convict-lease system that succeeded formal slavery reaped millions to southern jurisdictions (and untold miseries for tens of thousands of men, and women). Few predicted its passing from the American penal landscape. Davis expertly argues how social movements transformed these social, political and cultural institutions, and made such practices untenable.

In Are Prisons Obsolete?, Professor Davis seeks to illustrate that the time for the prison is approaching an end. She argues forthrightly for “decarceration”, and argues for the transformation of the society as a whole

 

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