New Orleans yields a number of great talents. No doubt, our parade-loving culture has produced some ultimate papier-mâché artists, and we’ve got cooks and jazz musicians and character galore. But New Orleans breeds another expert as well: the independent publisher. Maybe it’s the moxy that’s required to brave a string of hurricane seasons, or the gumption that comes from navigating the cities less-than-smooth streets, but our city has a surprisingly large number of independent publishing houses that churn out all kinds of off-the-beaten path books. From the University of New Orleans’ imprint, to Abram Himelstein’s New Mouth From the Dirty South, our city is pressing books of all stripes for the reading public.
Recently, the Huffington Post blessed one of our own with top honors in the category of “11 SMALL PUBLISHERS WE LOVE.” Nolafugees.com began post-Katrina as a bi-weekly online magazine detailing the rigors of life post-disaster. The writing offered was a sassy mix of irony, surrealism, and serious criticism, and the work stayed true to its on-the-ground, on-the-scene methodologies. The NolaFugees mission is to “provide another record of life in New Orleans, one that exists beyond the mainstream news, the alternative weeklies, the guidebooks and tourist commercials.” Indeed, post-Katrina, when so much of daily life seemed ripped from its hinges, the NolaFugees perspective often felt like a welcome respite. Since that time, the company has expanded to publish collected volumes, including Year Zero: A Year of Reporting Post Katrina, Soul is Bulletproof, and Life in the Wake, along with a novella by local writer, Andrea Boll – The Parade Goes on Without You. In addition, NolaFugees contribute to the local scene through outreach and programming initiatives. Going native was never so entertaining.