& Other Stories is a community interest company that uses all its profits to continue publishing. This is unlike other subscriptions in that the money I paid for my subscription will go directly to pay for the production of the books I receive. Most of their books are works of translation. All subscriber’s names are printed in the back of the book, so that was exciting!
This press is located in the UK and has three subscription options:
6 books a year for £50 in UK/Europe/USA/Canada (approx $65 US)
4 books a year for £35 in UK/Europe/USA/Canada (approx $45 US)
2 books a year for £20 in UK/Europe/USA/Canada (approx $25 US)
Folk outside of those areas can subscribe but they won’t get free postage.
There are other perks too, like I can help choose one of the next books and there are sometimes little bonuses like bookmarks. Even without anything else, this is a very affordable sub considering they ship from the UK.
In June I received two books. The first of them was The Gurugu Pledge by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel and translated by Jethro Soutar.
Wow, was this book timely and wow do I wish that certain people in places of power would read it. The story was that of refugees from Africa being “resettled” in Europe. I say “resettled” because what really happened was that they were sent to live on the side of a mountain with no food, no water, and now way to get either.
The writing style was very stream of consciousness and the story was told in bits and pieces. It sort of reminded me of The Things They Carried in that way. As though the author (who is (was?) a refugee) couldn’t yet quite face the story head on and instead had to sort of go at it from every side.
It is a harrowing tale. It is sad and at times funny and always very touching. I do recommend this to anyone who wants to think about what it’s really like to be a refugee. The details really made me think. Like when the women need tampons and the men are sent to the village to try and ask for tampons but the men and the villagers don’t speak the same language. It was an awkward and ultimately frustrating exchange.
Rating: 8/10 I’m glad I read this and I would recommend it to a friend. That said, I didn’t love the writing style and if I hadn’t been so interested in the topic I would not have liked this book.
Recommended for: Humans who are interested in better understanding the refugee crisis.
Does it pass the Bechdel–Wallace test? Not at all relevant to this type of writing.
Author of color / main character of color / female author / female main character: Y/Y/N/N
The second book was Worlds from the Word’s End by Joanna Walsh.
It’s a serious of extremely weird stories. I’m a fan of weird stories. Collections by Amelia Gray and Miranda July have gotten top honors from me. But these weird stories didn’t really work for me. I think it’s easily personal preference and not anything about these stories. They’re weird and unique and surprising. They just didn’t tickle my tickle bone.
Recommended for: People who like weird short stories.
Does it pass the Bechdel–Wallace test? N/A
Author of color / main character of color / female author / female main character: N/N/Y/Y
ALSO: Hilarious note, for some reason Google thinks this book is by Shelia Walsh and actually links to her. This book is decidedly NOT by Sheila Walsh, contemporary Christian singer, who wrote something called “God Put a Fighter in Me” but on first glance I thought it said “God Put a Finger in Me” because I’m a terrible human.