Sunday, October 24, 2010

Publisher Spotlight on Other Press: Interview with Judith Gurewich, Publisher of Other Press

Today is the first in a series of six posts spotlighting the fantastic Other Press, a small publisher of literary fiction and important nonfiction. See the intro post here. I had the privilege of conducting a brief interview with the Publisher, Judith Gurewich, about the company and the kinds of books it publishes:

1.  When did Other Press start? What's the company's background? What's its mission? How has it changed or grown over the years? 

Other Press started off by publishing books on various psychoanalytic schools, with a particular focus on the works of French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. However, over the years it shifted to literary fiction in translation, political nonfiction books, and memoirs. Today Other Press is doing exclusively literary fiction and nonfiction, from here and abroad.  

2. What kinds of books does Other Press publish? When a reader sees the Other Press logo on a book, what can he or she expect? 

Literature. In other words: books that needed to be written.

3. What's your favorite Other Press book? Is there something particularly special to you personally, or a book that comes with an unusual or particularly memorable story?

Mr. Toppit by Charles Elton sold 100,000 copies in England before I turned it down. It was good, I thought, but not good enough. But the author was willing to work on it with me. He flew from London, lived in my house, and we worked until the book was perfect. This is unusual enough in the publishing world today.  The Wrong Blood by Manuel de Lope, one of the most exquisite literary works I’ve ever published, also has a story attached. I wrote about it in the latest Other Press newsletter.  It is rather uncanny.

4. I've noticed that while Other Press doesn't specifically specialize in Judaica, Other Press has published a number of wonderful Jewish books, especially in the last year or so, like THE DEBBA, BY FIRE, BY WATER and THE WITNESS HOUSE. What does Other Press look for when it comes to Judaica?

This is a great question!  I love the kind of Jewish literature that goes against the grain, that speaks of resilience, of heart, of compassion, and that adamantly refuses to play the victim. One of the most remarkable books in that vein is The Woman from Hamburg by Hanna Krall. But I also publish books by Jewish authors that are thoughtful about Israeli history and wary of what the country has become.

5. Can you give our readers a little sneak preview of some of the books out now and coming next year that you're particularly excited about?

The book I am most excited about this season, apart from Mr. Toppit and The Wrong Blood, is How To Live: A Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer.  The author did in this book what few intellectuals can: she explains and entertains all at once. It is a masterpiece and probably the best nonfiction book I’ve ever had the luck to publish. 

Ms. Gurewich, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions! It was an honor to have to chance to interview you. I look forward to reading even more from Other Press in the future!
Stay tuned to Boston Bibliophile all week for reviews of Other Press books and interviews with Other Press authors. Thank you to Terrie Akers and Other Press for help with this week's features!