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How We Assembled Indiespensable #31

Happy 2012! We're looking forward to another year filled with literary wonder. So far, 2012 has found us rekindling our Indiespensable relationship with Algonquin Books. Algonquin, an independent (and Southern!) publisher, is beloved by authors, readers, and booksellers alike for their hand-picked gems that other houses might overlook. We had the perfect opportunity to work with them again when Naomi Benaron's debut novel, Running the Rift, blew us away.

Running the Rift is the story of Jean Patrick Nkuba, a boy growing up in Rwanda before and during the genocide. He plans to become an Olympic runner, hoping that that might secure some measure of safety for his family and people. As Benaron says in her interview: "[T]his isn't a just book about genocide. It's about what human beings can do to each other. But it's also, more importantly, about how humans rise above what is done. It's about the strength of the human spirit. It's not a book of graphic violence; it's a book of beauty. I hope, anyway. " Barbara Kingsolver awarded Running the Rift the Bellwether Prize, which is given to novels that address issues of social justice. (Mudbound, an earlier Indiespensable selection from Algonquin, won the same award in 2006.) In a starred review, Library Journal writes, "[An] unflinching and beautifully crafted account of a people and their survival....Highly recommended."

In addition to the special edition of Benaron's novel, we're including the marvelous inaugural issue of the Algonquin Reader, in which five Algonquin authors (including Robert Olmstead and former Indiespensable author Robert Goolrick) introduce their work in their own words. Excerpts from their five upcoming novels are included, as well as original essays from each author explaining an inspiration for their work.

And, finally, we're very excited to include a tea and postcard set from the book Glaciers (Tin House New Voice), the gorgeous novel by former Powell's employee Alexis Smith. Newly released by Tin House Books, Glaciers is already garnering impressive reviews. Publishers Weekly calls it "lyrical and luminous" in a starred review, and Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia!, raves, "Alexis Smith's brilliant debut novel, is filled with kaleidoscopic pleasures....Line by line, in and out of time, this is a haunted, joyful, beautiful book — a true gift."

As always, we'd love to hear what you think of this installment. Drop us a line at indiespensable@powells.com or leave a comment on our blog.

÷ ÷ ÷

A collective of high muckamucks, the Panjandrums largely spend their time in competitive Bananagram duels and negotiations regarding Pie Friday — not to mention painstakingly designing each installment of Powell's subscription club, Indiespensable, with the help of independent publishers and local merchants. From time to time, they find it entertaining to give you a look at the hows and whys behind the what. But, if you're yearning for more, send questions, suggestions, and random anecdotes to indiespensable@powells.com. (They especially like stories about pets, babies, and pie fillings.)

Books mentioned in this post

  1. Glaciers (Tin House New Voice)
    Used Trade Paper $5.95
  2. Running the Rift
    Sale Hardcover $5.95
  3. Swamplandia! (Vintage Contemporaries)
    Used Trade Paper $8.00

4 Responses to "How We Assembled Indiespensable #31"

    gdawson March 26th, 2012 at 7:02 am

    I love Indiespensable and have been a subscriber since Volume 2. I am always excited to read the books, and I like the additional goodies. This volume (Volume 31) disappointed me, though. Running the Rift looks good, and I'm looking forward to reading it, but the rest of the shipment contained nothing but promotional materials. The Algonquin Reader is a glorified catalog for upcoming Algonquin books, and the postcard set is nothing more than a pretty advertisement for Glaciers. For $40 I expect more than one book and some promotional materials, and I hope the additional goodies in future volumes are more substantial.

    paddymid March 28th, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    Couldn't agree more with gdawson. Very disappointing package (the quality of Naomi Benaron's writing notwithstanding).

    I also hope the next package is an improvement. . . .

    marigold April 3rd, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    I felt exactly the same as gdawson and paddymid.

    morgan April 15th, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Fourthed, absolutely. Such a disappointing shipment... especially on the heels of the Ethan Freaking Frome "bonus." Very glad to see #32 returning to form. The "Battleborn" ARC was excellent, and the magnets have found a home on my refrigerator. I know you can't always bring us addictive treats from the Portland area, or an ARC, but you can at least always get us some Powells swag, if nothing else, right?

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