The House of Anansi Press, founded in 1966 in Toronto on a shoestring by writer David Godfrey, is a small press with a big history. Dedicated to the work of neglected young Canadian writers from its inception, the press has had a major impact on contemporary Canadian writing, fiction in particular, publishing such authors as Graeme Gibson, Margaret Atwood, Austin Clarke and others. In 1988 the little house was acquired by General and Stoddart. But Martha Sharpe, who became Anansi's publisher in 1998, told PW the press functions much as it always has, publishing edgy contemporary fiction, significant nonfiction and literature in translation. "Our roots are in small publishing," she said, "but it's necessary for us to be aligned with a big house." Sharpe is responsible for the Spider Line, a series of novels by younger emerging writers (Like This, a 1995 novel by Leo McKay Jr., came out of the slush pile to be nominated for the Giller Prize, the NBA of Canada). Anansi publishes 12—18 titles a year. "We're still on a shoestring," said Sharpe, pointing to Anansi's "gonzo" book promotions: "stickers, fabulous parties and poster campaigns. It's cheap, and now all the big publishers are doing it." Anansi sells rights (Arcade has published U.S. editions) and sells directly into the U.S. This spring look for The Middle Stories, short fiction by Sheila Heti, who has been published in Dave Eggers's McSweeney's; 19 Knives, short stories by Mark Anthony Jarman; and Falling Hard, an unusual memoir on the sport of boxing by Chris Jones. The Anansi Web site is www.anansi.ca.
Volume 248 Issue 22 05/28/2001