Tuesday, December 11, 2012

2012 in Review

As we were putting together the latest edition of The Draught, we at the Bibliomanse decided it would be fun to hop on Wagon Retrospect. Reflect a little on the accomplishments of 2012. Tip our hats to the authors and readers who make each year exceptional, perhaps say a few words to all of our new friends here in Windsoria (all of whom, by the way, we're delighted to see so often at 1520 Wyandotte East). Thirsty can never quite cover all that we do over here, and you only see so much from the storefront: we thought we'd try and bring you more of the story. Or at least a plot synopsis. A cover letter? Biblioasis for Dummies? Filemaker Made Easy? (Oh wait. Those last two are for me.)
Um. Without further adieu …  

We have a lot to be proud of in our little corner of the world. We’ve won awards, we’ve been written up warmly, and of course our new storefront was greeted with great enthusiasm by both the Walkerville community and Windsor at large. Yet—and as we hope will always be the case—our primary accomplishment remains the publication of stupendous authors. This year saw new works by Mark KingwellDouglas GloverMarty GervaisLiliana Heker,David HelwigNadine McInnisAlex BoydJessica HiemstraNorm SibumMike Barnes, and C.P. Boyko. Our stable continues to boast titles by Caroline Adderson, Clark Blaise, Charles Foran, Mavis Gallant, Annabel Lyon, John Metcalf, Alexander MacLeod, A.F. Moritz, Eric Ormsby, Ray Robertson, Seth, and Guy Vanderhaeghe.This year we’re especially proud to have added two books to our collection of astonishing fiction debuts: Anakana Schofield’s Malarky, which was selected for the extremely competitive Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers program in 2012, and Alice Petersen’s All the Voices Cry (winner of this year’s QWF First Book Prize). As followers of theThirsty blog will know, Anakana's coverage this year has been exceptional, and we're happy to say that UK rights toMalarky were just sold to Oneworld; with a little luck her plaudits will continue long into 2013. We're also downright tickled about Alice, who it seems was only yesterday delighting audiences from Windsor to Montreal.

2012 saw Biblioasis authors win the Canadian Author's Association Award for Poetry (Goran Simic) and the City of Hamilton's Bryan Prince Award for Poetry(Amanda Jernigan,who was also shortlisted for the Pat Lowther). We had invitations to the Brooklyn Book Festival, WordFest, Winnipeg’s Thin Air, Blue Met, VIWF, IFOA, and Portland’s Wordstock. Both Malarky and C.P. Boyko’sPsychology made the Amazon.ca Editor’s Picks list for 2012, and Douglas Glover’s Attack of the Copula Spiders appeared in the Globe Top 100 column and was praised in the Wall Street Journal. We’ve had multiple features in each of The National Post, The Globe & Mail, The Vancouver Sun, and The Montreal Gazette, as well as American reviews in The New York Review of Books, The Economist, Reader’s Digest andThe San Francisco Chronicle. This builds upon the recognition our press has received in previous years (including shortlists for The Giller Prize, The Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, The Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Award for Nonfiction, The Red Maple Award, The Winterset Award, The Danuta Gleed Award, The Archibald Lampman Prize, the B. C. Award for Canadian Nonfiction, the Relit Prize, The Frank O’Connor Award, a Commonwealth Award, the Thomas Head Raddall Award, and much else). We’re happy to say that critical recognition for Biblioasis titles is growing.

On the whole in 2012 Biblioasis made exceptional contributions to its fiction, non-fiction, and poetry lists, and we continued our mandate to publish exciting new authors. As Thirsty readers are by now extremely aware, for a debut novel Anakana Schofield’s Malarky received overwhelming attention, both for the exceptional nuance of its voice and the extraordinary likability of its protagonist. “Schofield starts at a pitch of inspiration most novels are lucky to reach at any point,” observed The Montreal Gazette, “and remarkably sustains that level all the way through”: her 20+ other reviewers largely agreed. So did the selection committee at Barnes & Noble Discover Program (“it was the voice that got me,” commented Program Director Miwa Messer); “Quirky, raucous, and utterly unconventional,” said Reader’s Digest. And a contingent of elite online bloggers (including Ann Kjellberg of the New York Review of Books, Kassie Rose of NPR, and Scott Esposito of Quarterly Conversation) have called it everything from “a miracle” to “the most engaging storytelling ever encountered.” Now, approaching 9 months after publication, Anakana has been to many of the premier festivals in North America (including Brooklyn, Portland, IFOA, VIWF, and Victoria), and continues to receive invitations to speak in her home province.     
Yet Malarky isn’t the only one of our fiction titles to be well-received this year: Alice Petersen’s All the Voices Cry, edited by John Metcalf, was another remarkable debut, lauded for its facility with metaphor and (how many times can we say it?) awarded the QWF First Book Prize. And this fall we published the sophomore collection of Journey Prize-winning short story writer C.P. Boyko, glowingly commended in The National Post, The Toronto Star, Quill & Quire, and The Winnipeg Review. All three books had covers by Gord Robertson of Toronto; the Boyko and the Schofield in particular have been praised for their striking geometric designs. We had a strong showing from Nadine McInnis (Blood Secrets), as reviewed in The National Post and the Ottawa Citizen; our paperback reprint of Ray Robertson’s David is perhaps one of the most attractive books we’ve done, inside and out; and last but certainly not least we had Mike Barnes’s The Reasonable Ogre, hailed by the leading American expert on fairy tales as “a marvel, and a tribute to the power of story.” Altogether our 2012 fiction list demonstrates our commitment both to exceptional style and the genre of the short story (Malarky being the only new novel).

In poetry we were proud to publish sophomore collections by Jessica Hiemstra and the Lampert Award-winning Alex Boyd; we also published a new collection by veteran Montreal author Norm Sibum, whose debut novel (The Traymore Rooms) is our lead fiction title for Spring 2013. (Yes, that’s the one presently clocking in at a monumental 800+ pages.) Both the collection and the novel treat on American imperialism in a way we find exciting, moving, saddening, and frightening by turns. Hiemstra’s book contains a fine selection of pen-and-ink drawings done by the poet (also a visual artist), and Alex Boyd’s book marks the first Biblioasis title to be typeset by our new production manager, Chris Andrechek. Both Sibum and Hiemstra saw substantial excerpting in The Montreal Gazette.

2012 was an exciting year for Biblioasis nonfiction as well. Our two local history titles (Marcel Pronovost: A Life in Hockey and Marty Gervais’s Ghost Road and Other Forgotten Tales of Windsor) have both proved immensely popular and are also valuable contributions to the local history of the Windsor-Essex region. They contain a wealth of archival photos and are meticulously researched. There was Cooking with Giovanni Caboto, herculean, gorgeous.There was the postponed-till-there's-a-hockey-season book on the Detroit Red Wings (and man is it a looker). Last but not least we were especially excited to publish two nonfiction titles from acknowledged experts in their  fields: Governor General’s-Award winning novelist and creative writing instructor Doug Glover released Attack of the Copula Spiders and Other Essays on Writing, and longtime philosopher Mark Kingwell made waves with Unruly Voices: Essays on Democracy, Civility and the Human Imagination. The essays of both books demonstrate Biblioasis’s ongoing commitment to the publishing of critical works about literature (or, in Kingwell’s case, the literary imagination). So far Mark Kingwell has been excerpted and interviewed in Harper’s, has seen several reviews (with one forthcoming in The Rumpus), and appeared twice on TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paiken.

Altogether it's a year to be proud of and we want to thank our authors heartily for their hard work. You're what we do it for, ladies and gentlemen: a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you from Biblioasis.

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