One-Minute Book Reviews

September 20, 2007

Great Small Presses #5: Dalkey Archive

Fed up with the poor quality of so many books from major publishers? This is the fifth and last in a series of posts this week on great small or independent presses that have maintained high literary standards despite the Mitch Albom-ization of America.

Who might publish James Joyce’s Ulysses today if the major firms rejected it?

By Janice Harayda

Suppose that James Joyce were trying to find a American publisher for Ulysses today and the major publishers had turned it down. Who might publish it?

One answer is: Dalkey Archive Press Critics have used words like “experimental” and “avant-garde” to describe the firm, based in Normal, Ill. But director John O’Brien prefers “subversive” because so many of its titles go against the literary or artistic grain.

An outgrowth of the Review of Contemporary Fiction, Dalkey Archive publishes many translations of books by authors who might not otherwise find an American audience. Its noteworthy titles include Everyday Life by Lydie Salvayre, the daughter of refufees from the Spanish Civil War, who was raised in southern France And it has just published a new edition of Philip Wylie’s Generation of Vipers, a scathing critique of the American way of life that was one of the defining books of the postwar era.

One-Minute Book Reviews was the seventh-ranked book review site on Google of Sept. 6, 2007. It does not accept books, galleys, catalogs, print or electronic press releases or other promotional materials from publishers.

Tomorrow: A review of and Totally Unauthorized Reading Group Guide to Sara Gruen’s No. 1 bestseller, Water for Elephants.

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

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