By Bob Minzesheimer, USA TODAY
Small, independent book publishers, like Two Dollar Radio in Columbus, Ohio, or Coffee House Press in Minneapolis, tend not to get as much attention as indie music or indie movies, which have their own cable TV networks.
But boosted by online bookselling, which makes it easier for small publishers to distribute their works, there are hundred of independent publishers across the USA. Two magazines are devoted to reviewing books from independent publishers: ForeWord, a semi-monthly, and Shelf Unbound, an online magazine, which has just released a list of its top 10 books of 2011. (USA TODAY will list our favorite books of the year in late December).
Here's what Shelf Unbound likes best from indie publishers in 2011:
-- Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work by Edwidge Danticat (Princeton University Press) -- A collection of personal essays on writing and exile by the celebrated Haitian-American writer.
-- Leaving the Atocha Station by Ben Lerner (Coffee House Press) - A comic debut novel that explores the authenticity, or inauthenticity, of our relationships to art and to each other. The main character is a young poet on a prestigious fellowship in Madrid.
-- Quiet Americans by Erika Dreifus (Last Light Studio) -- Short stories that examine the effect of the Holocaust on generation after generation, from prewar Berlin to the present.
-- Airplane Novel by Paul A. Toth (Raw Dog Screaming Press) -- A 9/11 novel narrated by the South Tower, who details his birth, life, and death.
-- The Samaritan by Fred Venturini (Blank Slate Press) -- A sci-fi, coming-of-age tale featuring a character who discovers he has the ability to regenerate his own organs and body parts.
-- Damascus by Joshua Mohr (Two Dollar Radio) -- A novel about the Iraq War seen through various viewpoints, including a pathetic dying man, an alcoholic semi-prostitute, and a naïve performance artist.
-- Iraq: Perspectives, photographs by Benjamin Lowy (Duke University Press) -- A collection of photographs of both daily life and the terror of warfare, taken through the windows of a Humvee and through military-issue night vision goggles.
-- Repeat It Today with Tears by Anne Peile (Serpent's Tail) -- A novel that deals with incest featuring a girl who grows up desperate for the love of her perfect, absent father.
-- Exit by Nelly Arcan (Anvil Press) -- A novel that explores depression and suicide, completed a few days before Arcan, who had written four previous novels, killed herself at age 36.
-- The Final Appearance of America's Favorite Girl Next Door by Stephen Stark (Shelf Media Group) -- A sexy, edgy novel about love, loss and multiple realities.