Influx Press have been working tirelessly since 2012 to bring us exciting and invigorating modern fiction which interrogates the whole publishing scene. Their books are political, intrusive, and always compelling. ‘Between Beirut and the Moon’ is no exception. It is a skilfully and joyously told novel set in Beirut, following Adam – a young boy who dreams of becoming an astronaut – as he navigates the world. This is the world which enabled a bomb strike to kill his neighbour, where everyone tells him “there is no such thing as an Arab on the moon”: a world in which individual existence becomes increasingly reliant upon political affiliations. Infused with the kind of necessary humour reserved only for impossible circumstances, Bakhti explores youth and family amid conflict and upheaval with honesty and great care.
In response to the port explosions in Beirut during August, Influx pledged to donate all profits from pre-orders and an additional 50% of total sales to AMEL a NGO working in Lebanon.
Makina Books are a publisher with a revitalizing vision who publish great ideas which awake the imagination and equip the reader with new language to describe the world and new lenses to view it. Therefore, it is unsurprising that Makina’s name and aesthetic is inspired by the Plaubel Makina camera which develops images in a 6×7 frame; the boxy format of their books is a nod to this. This notion of framing, looking at, and speaking into the world we inhabit is a binding theme throughout a catalogue which seeks out and celebrates all forms of storytelling, whether it be from poets, photographers, novelists, or essayists.
In October Makina published ‘Strangers‘ by poet and essayist Rebecca Tamas. A collection of essays, woven with a poet’s precision, which brims with intelligence. Tamas’ essays feed into the essential and increasingly urgent school of thought which places humans inside of the world, a world of non-human actors with great agency, a world with visions. Tamas’ deep reading, accompanied by her assumption that the world is bound together by inherently conscious webs of human and non-human beings, informs essays on mystery, grief, pain, hospitality, greenness, essays which are perception-altering and, dare I say it, hope-inspiring. After reading Strangers the reader is left feeling that their visions for a different world are less like hallucinations, Tamas recalibrates our assumptions and better situates us in this bustling world.
Charco Press are based in Edinburgh, UK, and publish with a specific focus on bringing the very best Latin American literature to English speaking readers. This mission is embedded in their name as ‘charco’ translates to ‘puddle’ in Spanish. It is used colloquially in some Lain American countries to refer to the Atlantic Ocean and so ‘cruzar el charco’ means ‘crossing the puddle’. To achieve this – to the exceptionally high standard that they do – Charco understands and appreciates the essentiality of carefully crafted translation which preserves the integrity of, celebrates, and evokes the essence of cultures.
‘Holiday Heart’ is a perfect example of this, published in June this year. Through Lucia and Pablo, Colombian immigrants who have built a life in America, the reader gains an insight into the immigrant experience of American domesticity. After Pablo – a disgruntled academic with illusions of writing a novel – suffers a minor heart defect brought on by excessive consumption of drugs and alcohol, Lucia takes the children away to her parents’ place in Miami. As Lucia dissolves into the heat of the Miami landscape, her previous life begins to wane and her children become increasingly unrecognisable. Through Pablo and Lucia, Robayo considers the homes we are born into, the ones we create, and the great instability and uncertainty of both. With writing that fluctuates between melodic lyricism and nightmarish claustrophobia, this novel perfectly evokes the unravelling of love and exposes our corrosive potential to impose on those closest to us.