The strength of the many small presses that have sprung up in recent years made compiling our annual list of the best fall indie titles especially challenging. We worked hard to balance fiction and nonfiction, adult and children’s titles, and books in translation and books originally in English. PW’s reviews editors contributed significantly to the effort; we also scoured bookstore newsletters and the Indie Next List, and spoke with premier booksellers to find out the small-press books they’re most excited about this fall. Links to reviews are provided when available.

Emily Books

(dist. by Consortium)

I’ll Tell You in Person: Essays

Chloe Caldwell (Oct., $16.95 trade paper)

Author tour, 8,000-copy first printing

The second book from Coffee House’s new imprint addresses becoming an adult and the various imperfect ways most of us get there. “Chloe Caldwell writes with an emotional intensity that is insightful, heartfelt, and often hilarious,” commented Shawn Donley, new-book purchasing supervisor at Powell’s Books in Portland, Ore. “She perfectly captures what it’s like to try to navigate your way through the traumatic first decade of adulthood.”


(dist. by PRH)

Shelter in Place

Alexander Maksik (Sept., $18 trade paper)

12-city U.S. and Canadian tour, bartender marketing campaign on West Coast, 45,000-copy first printing

Chuck Robinson, owner of Village Books in Bellingham, Wash., calls this “an incredibly courageous novel that delves deeply into issues of love, gender, violence, and mental illness. Like A Marker to Measure Drift, Masik’s earlier book, the writing is not only beautiful but is evocative of time and place—in this case the Pacific Northwest in the early ’90s.”


My Favorite Thing Is Monsters

Emil Ferris (Oct., $39.99 trade paper)

Author events, 10,000-copy first printing

In a story that offers a vivid embrace of 1960s working-class Chicago, 10-year-old Karen Reyes tries to solve the murder of her upstairs neighbor in a graphic diary, employing B movie horror imagery and pulp monster magazines. PW senior news editor Calvin Reid calls Ferris’s debut graphic novel “awesome.”


The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood

Belle Boggs (Sept., $16 trade paper)

12-city tour, Goodreads giveaways, an Indie Next Pick, 25,000-copy first printing

The Art of Waiting is essential reading for those interested in what an essay today can do,” says John Francisconi at Bank Square Books in Mystic, Conn. “Boggs is somehow able here to transform the clinical and sedate language of infertility treatments into a beautiful song of hope, and transformation. The metaphors Boggs finds for her travails sing, and the patient quality of her narration stuns.”



Tim Murphy (Aug., $27)

An Indie Next pick, an Amazon best book of August, 17,500-copy first printing

Set in the Christodora, an iconic building in Manhattan’s East Village, this novel moves from the Tompkins Square Riots and the attempts by activists to galvanize a response to the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s to a future New York City of the 2020s, where subzero winters no longer exist. Paul Yamazaki, head buyer at City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, called it “the best novel I’ve read about the cost of activism.”

New Directions

The Last Wolf and Herman

László Krasznahorkai, trans. from the Hungarian by George Szirtes and John Batki (Sept., $16.95 trade paper)

These two novellas by the most recent winner of the Man Booker International Prize showcase why he won. “On their own, both volumes are slender storytelling jewels, but together they are an existential inquiry into the human animal by a unique and ingenious writer,” PW wrote in a starred review.

New York Review Books

(dist. by PRH)


Antonio di Benedetto, trans. from the Spanish by Esther Allen (Aug., $15.95 trade paper)

It has taken 50 years for this classic of Argentinian literature to be translated into English. Set in the last decade of the 18th century, Zama describes the solitary, suspended existence of Don Diego de Zama, a high-up servant of the Spanish crown who has been posted to Asunción, the capital of remote Paraguay. Don Diego does as little as he possibly can while plotting a transfer to Buenos Aires, where everything about his hopeless existence will, he is confident, be miraculously transformed. PW’s starred review called it “a once and future classic.”


(dist. by PGW)


Laia Jufresa, trans. from the Spanish by Sophie Hughes (Sept., $21.99)

Winner of an English PEN award, 7,500-copy first printing

This novel, which was listed as an International Hot Property by PW last year and was named one of the most anticipated books of 2016 by the Millions, takes place in Mexico City. Ana, a precocious 12-year-old who reads Agatha Christie to forget the mysterious death of her little sister, decides to plant a milpa, a crop-growing system common in the Yucatan, in her backyard. As she digs, her neighbors delve into their own past. The ripple effects of grief, childlessness, illness, and displacement saturate their stories, secrets seep out, and questions emerge.

Open Letter

(dist. by Consortium)

A Greater Music

Bae Suah, trans. from the Korean by Deborah Smith (Oct., $13.95)

Author and translator tour

A young Korean writer falls into an icy river in the Berlin suburbs, which sets in motion a series of her memories. Throughout, the writer’s relationship with Joachim, a rough-and-ready metalworker, is contrasted with her friendship with M, an ultra-refined music-loving German teacher, who was once her lover. Some see Suah as the next big South Korean writer to break out, following Han Kang (The Vegetarian). This is her second novel to be published in English; two more are slated for 2017.

Other Press

(dist. by PRH)


Peter Stamm, trans. from the German by Michael Hofmann (Oct. $18.95)

Chicago outreach, backlist promotion, reading group guide, Goodreads giveaways, 25,000-copy first printing

Stamm’s international bestselling debut novel, a psychological romance first published in Germany in 1998, is being published in the U.S. for the first time. In it, an unnamed writer pursues a love affair with a Ph.D. candidate after meeting her at the Chicago Public Library. “‘Write a story about me,’ she said, ‘so I know what you think of me.’” While he crafts the story of their love, their relationship is often dictated by the story itself, as he imagines what might be rather than what is.

Princeton Univ.

(dist. by Perseus Academic)

Welcome to the Universe

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michael Strauss, and J. Richard Gott (Oct., $39.95)

Author appearances, advertising, 25,000-copy first printing

This heavily illustrated book by three leading astrophysicists covers topics including why Pluto lost its planetary status, whether our universe is part of an infinite cosmos, and the prospects of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.


(dist. by Consortium)


Louisa Ermelino (Aug., $15.95 trade paper)

In this eclectic collection from PW’s reviews director, the stories follow strong-willed women on adventures at home and abroad. In a starred review, PW wrote that “the stories’ themes are elemental and affecting, lingering in the mind like parables or myths sketching something vital, sad, and true.” PW Interviewed Ermelino.

Soft Skull

(dist. by PGW)

Another Place You’ve Never Been

Rebecca Kauffman (Oct., $25)

These linked stories, set in Buffalo, N.Y., follow Tracy from being a spunky 10-year-old to a troubled adolescent to a struggling adult. A starred PW review calls this “an undeniably moving and emotionally true portrayal of the kitchen sink of human experience.” Longlisted for the 2016 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize.


(dist. by PRH)

Never Look an American in the Eye: Flying Turtles, Colonial Ghosts, and the Making of a Nigerian American

Okey Ndibe (Oct., $25)

Author tour, 35,000-copy first printing

Ndibe’s memoir takes its name from the advice his uncle gave him when he left Nigeria to edit African Commentary magazine—advice that caused some problems when he was mistaken for a bank robber 10 days after he arrived in the U.S. Ndibe examines his development as a novelist, as well as the differences between Nigerian and American etiquette and politics. His novel Foreign Gods, Inc. was starred in PW and was an NPR Great Read of 2014.

Two Dollar Radio

(dist. by Consortium)

The Gloaming

Melanie Finn (Sept., $16.99 trade paper)

5,000-copy first printing

In her second novel after Away from You, Finn, a finalist for the Orange Prize, has created a literary thriller about a young woman whose husband has left her. After a tragic accident in the Swiss countryside, the woman flees to Tanzania, where she can’t shake the feeling that she’s being followed. Published in the U.K. last year (under the title Shame), the novel was shortlisted for the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize.

Univ. of California

(dist. by Perseus Academic)

Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas

Edited by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro (Oct., $49.95 hardcover; $29.95 trade paper)

Author tour; advertising, including in New York subways and subway stations; first printing: 55,000-copies paper, 5,000-copies hardcover

This beautifully designed and illustrated volume from journalist Solnit and Jelly-Schapiro, author of Island People (Knopf, Nov.), conveys the experience of being in New York City through 26 maps and essays by experts including linguists and ethnographers. The book, which completes a trilogy of atlases, celebrates New York City’s unique vitality, while critiquing its racial and economic inequality.

Univ. of Chicago

Down, Out, and Under Arrest: Policing and Everyday Life in Skid Row

Forrest Stuart (Aug., $27.50)

In his first year working in Los Angeles’s Skid Row, sociologist Stuart was stopped on the street by police 14 times, usually for doing little more than standing still. A woman he met there was stopped more than 100 times and arrested upward of 60 times for sitting on the sidewalk. Down, Out, and Under Arrest looks at how zero-tolerance policing and mass incarceration have reshaped the social fabric of Skid Row and other disadvantaged neighborhoods.


(dist. by Consortium)

My Private Property

Mary Ruefle (Oct., $25)

5,000-copy first printing

Excerpted in Granta, Harper’s, the Paris Review, and Tin House; 5,000-copy first printing

Laurie Greer of Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C., comments on this collection of short prose pieces from the Whiting Award–winning poet: “Like snapshots of a mind caught in brief pauses, these fully justified blocks of language look like prose. They act like poetry, argue like essays.”


Cinco Puntos

(dist. by Consortium)

Rani Patel in Full Effect

Sonia Patel (Sept., $16.95 hardcover; $11.95 trade paper)

This was the only book by a small independent publisher to be featured in the YA Editors’ and Authors’ Buzz panels at BEA. In a starred review, PW wrote: “Patel sets her powerful debut novel in 1991, filling it with bygone rap references and an electric verbal blend of Gujarati, slang, Hawaiian pidgin, and the rhymes Rani crafts. Patel compassionately portrays Rani’s entangled emotions, lack of self-confidence, and burgeoning sense of empowerment as she moves forward from trauma.” Ages 12–up.

Flying Eye

(dist. by Consortium)

The Journey

Francesca Sanna (Sept., $18.95)

“I am so grateful for this candid, colorful, and graceful retelling of a family’s fleeing home, which transcends any specific time in history or place on Earth to welcome us all into its pages and its story of common courage and hope,” says Joanna Parzakonis, co-owner of Kalamazoo’s Bookbug. PW gave it a starred review. Ages 3–7.