Explore books from our indie press partners
This Indie Books Day, support an independent publisher and skip the crowded bookshelves of chain bookstores in favor of that less discoverable hidden gem. Whether perusing for your next read online or in person at a local independent seller, the MIT Press offers dozens of books published by indie presses. The Press promotes the sustainability of indie publishers by distributing a number of books each year from partners like Semiotext(e), Urbanomic, Sternberg, and Strange Attractor.
Read on to learn more about these inspiring publishers along with some of our top reads from each.
The MIT Press is proud of its rich relationship with its longest term indie partner, Semiotext(e). Semiotext(e), first known for their role in the 1970s in introducing “French Theory” to America, has in recent years shifted their focus to include a robust list of literary fiction books.
Love Me Tender by Constance Debre
In 2015, Constance Debré’s grippingly poignant and anxiety-ridden Play Boy chronicled her transformation from affluent career woman to broke single lesbian. After abandoning her legal career and marriage to pursue life as a full-time writer and begin a relationship with a woman, Debré’s Love Me Tender recounts the continued societal backlash of lesbian identity and motherhood. Othered and labeled a pillar of “counterculture”, Debré’s heartened and angsty prose reframes what it means to love, and, more importantly, what it means to be a mother on the fringes of conformity.
Walking through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black, New Edition by Cookie Mueller
Legendary writer, actress, and Dreamlander Cookie Mueller once confessed that her writing career really began when she was six. Seemingly impossible to capture the entirety of such a prolific career, in 1990, a small slice of these writings was presented in Mueller’s Walking through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black. Now, this new, landmark volume collects all of Mueller’s stories: from the original contents of Clear Water, to posthumously discovered stories and new musings available for the first time. Olivia Laing’s new introduction situates Mueller’s writing within the context of her life and our times, hailing Collected Stories as “a how-to manual for a life ricocheting joyously off the rails… a live corrective to conformity, conservatism, and cruelty.”
Edgy and revolutionary, London-based publisher of philosophy, Urbanomic, is admired for having sensationalized trends known as “speculative realism,” “accelerationism,” and “theory-fiction.” Continue reading for the latest insightful works from Urbanomic.
Parallel Mind: Discovering the Intelligence of Materials by Laura Tripaldi
What if we could imbue the intelligence of the living to enhance the technical world we live in? In Parallel Minds, materials science and nanotechnology expert Laura Tripaldi presents groundbreaking ways to do just that. Through detailed insights into the properties and emergent behaviors of matter as revealed by state-of-the-art chemistry, synthetic biology, and nanotech, Tripaldi delivers a rich philosophical reflection that crosses the frontier between nature and culture. The result is a story full of unexpected encounters with “strange minds”—from viruses to golems, to centaurs to amoebas to arachnids—all of which reconcile the margin between science and ancient myth.
What constitutes a living being? Discover more on the MIT Press Reader.
X-Risk: How Humanity Discovered Its Own Extinction by Thomas Moynihan
When did humanity begin to contemplate its own extinction? Surprisingly, not until recently. This existential risk is not unique to the perils of climate change or AI superintelligences, and it didn’t start with religious prophecies of doomsday apocalypses, either. With the looming threats of modernity spurring fears of imminent extinction, Thomas Moynihan reveals today’s attempts to measure existential threats as the continuation of a nearly two-centuries-old project, which orients humans as rational, responsible, and future-oriented beings.
Follow a timeline of existential risk on the MIT Press Reader.
Recently relocated from Berlin to London due to the pandemic, Sternberg Press publishes a range of books rooted in the art world, extending beyond art catalogs and art theory to also address political theory, creative nonfiction, environmentalism, philosophy, and experimental fiction.
Larissa Sansour: Heirloom edited by Anthony Downey
Palestinian artist Larissa Sansour’s groundbreaking intersectional project for the Danish Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale transcended culture, identity, and geographical confines. Heirloom documents these convergences, exploring the themes that are both expressly visible and narrowly dissected throughout Sansour’s oeuvre. Not only do recurring themes of memory, trauma, identity, and belonging intertwine with the discourses of science fiction and environmental disaster narratives, but they also explore what it means to be an artist within contested geographies.
Up Your Ass: Or From the Cradle to the Boat Or The Big Suck Or Up from the Slime by Valerie Solanas
Raunchy and revealing, Valerie Solanas’s legendary play explodes social and sexual mores and the patriarchal culture that produces them. The play marches out a cast of screwy stereotypes—the rigid career girl, the sappy, unassuming john, the narcissistic patriarch, the melodramatic drag queen, and the sex-deprived housewife, among no shortage of others. In the center of the tumult is Bongi Perez, a sardonic, gender-bending hustler who escorts us through the back alleys of her street life. Positioned squarely within the twenty-first century, Solana embraces the margins in her trademark wit, camp, and cheekiness.
Based in London, Strange Attractor explores and documents lost, neglected, emerging, and underground currents from such areas as history, anthropology, psychology, science, magic, and music.
Animal Music: Sound and Song in the Natural World by Tobias Fischer and Lara Cory
In 1967, the accidental discovery of whale song breached the surface of animal sentience. Today, scientists, musicians, and researchers have become increasingly fascinated with demystifying the secret animal orchestras happening all around us. From decoding the sentience behind animal music to unearthing the mysterious sonic world of shrimp, Animal Music is the world’s largest library of animal sounds and their meanings. Equipped with interviews from top researchers, scientists, and musicians and a specially-compiled 60 minute CD of field recordings, a greater understanding of our animal counterparts is only a listen away.
Unearth the secret sounds of animals on the MIT Press Reader.
Hawkwind, Days of the Underground: Radical Escapism in the Age of Paranoia by Joe Banks
For young people growing up on a planet teetering on the edge of unrest, 1970s English rock band Hawkwind offered angst, reprieve, and solidarity that would alter the landscape of rock music forever. Beyond being coined the heir to both Pink Floyd and the Velvet Underground, Hawkwind defined the space rock genre while simultaneously rebelling against the confines of their own created sound. In Days of the Underground, musical journalist Joe Banks repositions Hawkwind as one of the most culturally significant bands of the 1970s. With massive competition and a lazy narrative surrounding the band, this proves no easy or uncontroversial task.