Focus on the indies – Peirene Press

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Since I started reading book blogs more regularly I have been introduced to a number of interesting independent publishers. I now thought I should do my part and spread the word further, starting with my new favourite, Peirene Press.

Peirene Press focuses on short-format, maximum 200 pages, translated novels and memoirs by mostly European authors. As I prefer shorter novels and aim to read from as many countries as possible, they have been a perfect match. It doesn’t hurt that they are producing reasonably well-made and attractive soft-covers either.

Books I recommend from Peirene Press

I have enjoyed and would recommend all four books I have read from Peirene. However, I will focus on two of them, both dealing with life in the Soviet Union. The fact that I have a more relevant photo to illustrate these books than I do for the other two may or may not have influenced my choice…

Soviet Milk by Nora Ikstena (translation by Margita Gailitis)

Soviet Milk is a Latvian novel following a mother and daughter whose relationship has been stunted by the mother’s depression. The novel is a beautiful portrait of their fragile relationship but also a broader commentary about the influence of oppressive regimes on ordinary lives.

Shadows on the Tundra by Dalia Grinkevičiūtė (translation by Delija Valiukenas)

If the previous novel didn’t sound bleak enough I can instead recommend the Lithuanian novel Shadows on the Tundra. It is a well-written memoir which follows then 14-year old Dalia Grinkevičiūtė and her mother and brother during their deportation to the Lena delta in north Siberia. It is a truly horrifying account of the complete disregard for human lives that these deportations involved, but it also a survival story and as such not entirely without hope.

Other books from Peirene Press

From Peirene I have also read and very much enjoyed Under the Tripoli Sky by Kamal Ben Hameda and Chasing the King of Hearts by Hanna Krall. Under the Tripoli Sky, describes a childhood in Tripoli during the 1960s and would be my recommendation if you want to try Peirene Press but want to avoid the heavier themes in some of their other novels.

Have you read any of these books, did you like them? Do you have any recommendations of other books I should read from Peirene Press or suggestions on other indie publishers I should try?

As usual this post has not been sponsored in any way.

 

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