Small Press Points: Unnamed Press

From the November/December 2019 issue of
Poets & Writers Magazine

Unnamed Press is an object lesson in thinking globally, acting locally. C. P. Heiser and Olivia Taylor Smith, two former staffers at the Los Angeles Review of Books, founded the press in 2014, drawing inspiration from the flourishing independent publishing scene in L.A.—and a sense that there was more work to do. “We saw that we could bring something different to the table, particularly through our initial focus on international voices and debut authors,” says Smith. Today the press publishes ten to twelve books each year, about half fiction and half nonfiction. Notable recent titles include Adam Popescu’s Nima (2019), in which a young Sherpa woman disguised as a man leads journalists to the foot of Mount Everest, and Man Booker Prize–winning translator Jennifer Croft’s memoir of sisterhood, Homesick (2019). Esmé Weijun Wang’s debut novel, The Border of Paradise (2016), remains a best-seller.

What does it take to curate such a dynamic, international list? “We travel a lot!” says Heiser. Favorite venues for connecting with new talent include the Dhaka Lit Fest in Bangladesh, the Frankfurt Book Fair, and the American Literary Translators Association’s annual conference. “We are a story-driven press that’s attracted to underrepresented or marginalized voices—not as a rule, but simply because, as editors, that’s what excites us,” says Heiser, pointing to Nima and The Border of Paradise as good examples. “Both explore important issues through some really surprising and refreshing points of view, which for lots of reasons bigger publishers found too challenging or risky.” Unnamed Press accepts queries and submissions via e-mail, and is open year-round.