Deep Vellum's Best of 2017

Will Evans, Co-Founder Radiant Terminus by Antoine Volodine (Open Letter Books) translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin (Riverhead) translated by Megan McDowell The Book of Disquiet: The Complete Edition by Fernando Pessoa (New Directions) translated by Margaret Jull Costa Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (Transit Books) The Iliac Crest by Cristina Rivera Garza (Feminist Press) translated by Sarah Booker Other Russias by Victoria Lomasko (n+1) translated by Thomas Campbell Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli (Coffee House Press) translated by Christina MacSweeney Universal Harvester by John Darnielle (FSG) Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera (And Other Stories) translated by Lisa Dillman Affections by Rodrigo Hasbún (Simon & Schuster) translated by Sophie Hughes And it was another amazing year for Deep Vellum Publishing, and my favorite book we translated this year was Heavens on Earth by Carmen Boullosa (Deep Vellum) — beyond my bias that I published it, this book is incredible and I'd die to read it published by anybody (and it's a crime against culture that it took twenty years for it to be published in English!), translated by Shelby Vincent  

Will Evans, Co-Founder

Radiant Terminus by Antoine Volodine (Open Letter Books) translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin (Riverhead) translated by Megan McDowell

The Book of Disquiet: The Complete Edition by Fernando Pessoa (New Directions) translated by Margaret Jull Costa

Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi (Transit Books)

The Iliac Crest by Cristina Rivera Garza (Feminist Press) translated by Sarah Booker

Other Russias by Victoria Lomasko (n+1) translated by Thomas Campbell

Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli (Coffee House Press) translated by Christina MacSweeney

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle (FSG)

Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera (And Other Stories) translated by Lisa Dillman

Affections by Rodrigo Hasbún (Simon & Schuster) translated by Sophie Hughes

And it was another amazing year for Deep Vellum Publishing, and my favorite book we translated this year was Heavens on Earth by Carmen Boullosa (Deep Vellum) — beyond my bias that I published it, this book is incredible and I'd die to read it published by anybody (and it's a crime against culture that it took twenty years for it to be published in English!), translated by Shelby Vincent

 

Cristina Rodriguez, General Manager  Investigating Sex: Surrealist Discussions (Verso) Let’s face it. Some of the most famous surrealist artists were sketchy as hell and homophobic. Nonetheless, this book is a fascinating and a funny read. It will have you saying multiple times out loud: Wow these men are either really dumb or just not having good sex. It might be both.  Johnny Would You Love Me If My Dick Were Bigger (Feminist Press) This was the realist book I read in 2017 and I will continue to be Brontez Purnell’s ultimate fangirl into 2018. HE WAS IN GRAVY TRAIN!!!! My awkward preteen self is screaming! Since I Laid My Burden Down by Brontez Purnell (Feminist Press)  Please see above. In addition to reading both of these books and following all of Brontez’s creative endeavors, I highly suggest listening to his punk band The Younger Lovers and make the song “Poseur” your 2018 callout anthem to all the fakes. The Brick House by Micheline Aharonian Marcom (Awst Press) The Book of Disquiet: The Complete Edition by Fernando Pessoa, translated by Margaret Jull Costa (New Directions) The Iliac Crest by Cristina Rivera Garza (Feminist Press) translated by Sarah Booker It has all of the suspense of an Edgar Allan Poe story with FAR more depth. We Were Witches by Ariel Gore (Feminist Press) I Don’t Think Of You (Until I Do) by Tatiana Ryckman (Future Tense Books) This is one of my favorite books to sell in the store. There isn’t a single person who can’t connect with the subject of longing and unrequited feelings. If I'm selling you this book we will most likely swap embarrassing relationship stories or I’ll over share about guys that I have romanticized and imagined dating. It’s a win either way. Against Everything: Essays by Mark Greif (Verso) Little Boxes: 12 Writers on Television (Coffee House Press)  I was a latchkey kid at a young age. Therefore, my love for television was destined. And what do I love more than television? TALKING about television, especially from the 90’s sitcom variety. The only way this collection could be any better is if an essay was dedicated to the show Roseanne and how it tackled the complexities of capitalism and the working class. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was excited for this shows revival. 

Cristina Rodriguez, General Manager

 Investigating Sex: Surrealist Discussions (Verso) Let’s face it. Some of the most famous surrealist artists were sketchy as hell and homophobic. Nonetheless, this book is a fascinating and a funny read. It will have you saying multiple times out loud: Wow these men are either really dumb or just not having good sex. It might be both. 

Johnny Would You Love Me If My Dick Were Bigger (Feminist Press) This was the realist book I read in 2017 and I will continue to be Brontez Purnell’s ultimate fangirl into 2018. HE WAS IN GRAVY TRAIN!!!! My awkward preteen self is screaming!

Since I Laid My Burden Down by Brontez Purnell (Feminist Press)  Please see above. In addition to reading both of these books and following all of Brontez’s creative endeavors, I highly suggest listening to his punk band The Younger Lovers and make the song “Poseur” your 2018 callout anthem to all the fakes.

The Brick House by Micheline Aharonian Marcom (Awst Press)

The Book of Disquiet: The Complete Edition by Fernando Pessoa, translated by Margaret Jull Costa (New Directions)

The Iliac Crest by Cristina Rivera Garza (Feminist Press) translated by Sarah Booker It has all of the suspense of an Edgar Allan Poe story with FAR more depth.

We Were Witches by Ariel Gore (Feminist Press)

I Don’t Think Of You (Until I Do) by Tatiana Ryckman (Future Tense Books) This is one of my favorite books to sell in the store. There isn’t a single person who can’t connect with the subject of longing and unrequited feelings. If I'm selling you this book we will most likely swap embarrassing relationship stories or I’ll over share about guys that I have romanticized and imagined dating. It’s a win either way.

Against Everything: Essays by Mark Greif (Verso)

Little Boxes: 12 Writers on Television (Coffee House Press)  I was a latchkey kid at a young age. Therefore, my love for television was destined. And what do I love more than television? TALKING about television, especially from the 90’s sitcom variety. The only way this collection could be any better is if an essay was dedicated to the show Roseanne and how it tackled the complexities of capitalism and the working class. I would be lying if I didn’t say I was excited for this shows revival. 

Tanya Wardell, Publishing Assistant This year in books was, for me, all about psychology: of relationships, of the self, of war, trauma, and violence, of the absurd and the ordinary. I’ve heard from a lot of readers visiting our shop that a goal for them was to “try to read more women.” So, keeping that in mind, and because there is such an abundance of incredible, challenging work by women that is so often overlooked, even by those who are trying to find them, I’ve decided to focus most of my list on books by women that have come out in the past year. So, without further ado, here are my Top Ten Favorite Reads of 2017 (plus some honorable mentions, because really, who can narrow it down to only ten?): The Brick House by Micheline Aharonian Marcom (Awst Press) This book is so beautiful, illuminated in the manner of Armenian manuscripts by the ferociously talented Fowzia Karimi and inspired, in part, by Calvino’s Invisible Cities. Ethereal and erotic, The Brick House is a dreamy exploration of the universes we build and destroy in our sleep, pondering themes of love, sex, violence, climate change, and the evils of capitalism. The Iliac Crest by Cristina Rivera Garza (The Feminist Press at CUNY) I was blown away by Cristina Rivera Garza’s ominous, psychological portrait of confused identity, ulterior motives, and shifting realities. If you ever want to question everything you’ve ever known about yourself or anyone else, read this book! Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck (New Directions) I love a good, scathing, and timely political takedown. Especially when it’s wrapped in a story as haunting and multilayered as Erpenbeck’s look at the tribulations faced by refugees (in this case African refugees in Germany). Compassionate and fierce, written and translated beautifully. My Heart Hemmed In by Marie N. Diaye (Two Lines Press) A paranoid, chilling (two of my favorite adjectives) story of identity that reads with the same nightmarish, surrealist (two more of my favorite adjectives) absurdity as Kafka’s Metamorphosis and Adolfo Bioy Casares’ Asleep in the Sun. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Riverhead Books) There’s a good reason Exit West was a finalist for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. Mohsin Hamid’s story of two migrants fleeing an unnamed country to escape civil war is magical, heartbreaking, and so very relevant. The Doll’s Alphabet by Camilla Grudova (Coffee House Press) Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf Press)  Sisters by Lily Tuck (Atlantic Monthly) The Little Buddhist Monk & Proof by César Aira (New Directions) The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington (Dorothy Project) Honorable Mentions: Heavens on Earth by Carmen Boullosa (Deep Vellum) This would have been on my top ten list, but since I work for the publisher, and in the interest of fairness, I’ve included it here. The Accusation by Bandi (Grove Atlantic) Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera (And Other Stories Publishing) Not One Day by Anne Garreta (Deep Vellum) What We Do Now: Standing Up For Your Values in Trump’s America edited by Dennis Johnson and Valerie Merians (Melville House Books) Dear Ijeawele or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Penguin Random House) Such Small Hands by Andraes Barba (Transit Books) Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli (Coffee House Press) Against Everything: Essays by Mark Greif (Verso Books) I Don’t Think of You (Until I Do) by Tatiana Ryckman (Future Tense Books)

Tanya Wardell, Publishing Assistant

This year in books was, for me, all about psychology: of relationships, of the self, of war, trauma, and violence, of the absurd and the ordinary. I’ve heard from a lot of readers visiting our shop that a goal for them was to “try to read more women.” So, keeping that in mind, and because there is such an abundance of incredible, challenging work by women that is so often overlooked, even by those who are trying to find them, I’ve decided to focus most of my list on books by women that have come out in the past year.

So, without further ado, here are my Top Ten Favorite Reads of 2017 (plus some honorable mentions, because really, who can narrow it down to only ten?):

The Brick House by Micheline Aharonian Marcom (Awst Press) This book is so beautiful, illuminated in the manner of Armenian manuscripts by the ferociously talented Fowzia Karimi and inspired, in part, by Calvino’s Invisible Cities. Ethereal and erotic, The Brick House is a dreamy exploration of the universes we build and destroy in our sleep, pondering themes of love, sex, violence, climate change, and the evils of capitalism.

The Iliac Crest by Cristina Rivera Garza (The Feminist Press at CUNY) I was blown away by Cristina Rivera Garza’s ominous, psychological portrait of confused identity, ulterior motives, and shifting realities. If you ever want to question everything you’ve ever known about yourself or anyone else, read this book!

Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck (New Directions) I love a good, scathing, and timely political takedown. Especially when it’s wrapped in a story as haunting and multilayered as Erpenbeck’s look at the tribulations faced by refugees (in this case African refugees in Germany). Compassionate and fierce, written and translated beautifully.

My Heart Hemmed In by Marie N. Diaye (Two Lines Press) A paranoid, chilling (two of my favorite adjectives) story of identity that reads with the same nightmarish, surrealist (two more of my favorite adjectives) absurdity as Kafka’s Metamorphosis and Adolfo Bioy Casares’ Asleep in the Sun.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Riverhead Books) There’s a good reason Exit West was a finalist for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. Mohsin Hamid’s story of two migrants fleeing an unnamed country to escape civil war is magical, heartbreaking, and so very relevant.

The Doll’s Alphabet by Camilla Grudova (Coffee House Press)

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado (Graywolf Press) 

Sisters by Lily Tuck (Atlantic Monthly)

The Little Buddhist Monk & Proof by César Aira (New Directions)

The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington (Dorothy Project)

Honorable Mentions:

Heavens on Earth by Carmen Boullosa (Deep Vellum) This would have been on my top ten list, but since I work for the publisher, and in the interest of fairness, I’ve included it here.

The Accusation by Bandi (Grove Atlantic)

Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera (And Other Stories Publishing)

Not One Day by Anne Garreta (Deep Vellum)

What We Do Now: Standing Up For Your Values in Trump’s America edited by Dennis Johnson and Valerie Merians (Melville House Books)

Dear Ijeawele or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Penguin Random House)

Such Small Hands by Andraes Barba (Transit Books)

Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli (Coffee House Press)

Against Everything: Essays by Mark Greif (Verso Books)

I Don’t Think of You (Until I Do) by Tatiana Ryckman (Future Tense Books)