Independent publishers give their tips for the top during the autumn season

With the bumper autumn in danger of crowding out space for titles from the smaller publishers, The Bookseller invited indies—who amply proved their worth this week on the Booker shortlist —to give us their top picks of the season both from their own publishing and also that of their peers. Most hotly tipped were two autumn titles published by Dead Ink—Naomi Booth’s Exit Management and Gary Budden’s London Incognita—with Granta’s Earthlings by Sayaka Murata, author of Convenience Store Woman, also a popular choice.

Sarah Beal    
Publisher at Muswell Press
My autumn pick: The Rhino Conspiracy by Peter Hain, out now. A cracking political thriller which skilfully reveals the devastating impact of rhino poaching, and the complicity and corruption of the South African government. The book I wish I were publishing: A Short History of England by James Hawes (Old Street), out 3rd November. I’m a great admirer of Old Street’s non-fiction list.

Nathan Connolly    
Publishing director at Dead Ink
My autumn pick: London Incognita by Gary Budden, out 1st October. We’re searching for the bleakest [novel] imaginable. Something devoid of hope, something where the destitution has broken down the boundary between the real and the weird. The book I wish I were publishing: Scar City by Joel Lane (Influx Press), out 22nd October. If any novelist has embodied all that me and Gary have been looking for in the search for ultimate truth portrayable only by the dark, the weird, the bleak, then it is Joel Lane—the master of the post-industrial gothic.

Divia Kainth    
Marketing and publicity executive at Sweet Cherry 
My autumn pick: The Case of the Disgusting School Dinners by Angie Lake, out now. Mina’s an inclusive and witty schoolgirl detective who wants to be a private investigator when she grows up, so she keeps case files and logs notes on the odd mishappenings going on around her. The book I wish I were publishing: Captain Tom Moore by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, out 29th September. We love Quarto’s new Captain Tom Moore book in the Little People, Big Dreams series. What an inspiration—both Sir Tom and the book.

Anne Meadows    
Editorial director at Granta Books
My autumn pick: Earthlings by Sayaka Murata, out 1st October. It’s one of the most gasp-inducing novels I’ve ever read, but it’s also an incredible tale of survival against the odds. The book I wish I were publishing: Farewell, Ghosts by Nadia Terranova (Seven Stories Press), out 22nd September. It’s a slim, poetic slice of award-winning Italian literature, the perfect post-Ferrante read.

Sara Hunt    
Publisher at Saraband
My autumn pick: Bleak: The Mundane Comedy by R M Murray, out 22nd October. Infinitely drier than Scottish weather, affectionate without rose-tinting, this memoir is an ideal antidote to the actually bleak 2020. The book I wish I were publishing: The Gran Tour: Travels with my Elders by Ben Aitken (Icon Books), out now. Mired as we are in escalating intergenerational strife, this a refreshing change, and I daresay it’ll turn up in many a grandma’s Christmas stocking this year.

Martin Hickman    
Publisher at Canbury Press
My autumn pick: How To Be A Liberal by Ian Dunt, out 17th September. It races through the English Civil War, French and American revolutions, 19th-century philosophers, Nazism and Stalinism, to the current assault on reason by the flag-waving liars—and explains why we urgently need to fight for our values. The book I wish I were publishing: Love in the Days of Rebellion by Ahmet Altan (Europa Editions), out 26th November. [The novelist] lyrically re-acquaints readers with the seductive scenes and drama of early 20th-century Istanbul.

Karen Sullivan    
Publisher at Orenda Books
My autumn pick: The Creak on the Stairs by Eva Björg Ægisdóttir, translated by Victoria Cribb, out now. Reminiscent of Ruth Rendell, this quiet, slow-burning thriller is the first in the Forbidden Iceland series and full of clever twists and (appropriately) red herrings, with buckets of atmosphere and a devastating theme at its heart. The book I wish I were publishing: Exit Management by Naomi Booth (Dead Ink), out now. The writing is exquisite, the characters and their universal fragilities beautifully rendered. It left me in awe, in tears and, perhaps, a little wiser.

Gary Budden    
Publisher at Influx Press
My autumn pick: The Earth Wire by Joel Lane, out 1st October. Joel was one of the UK’s greatest writers of dark, unsettling fiction—now fashionably known as literary horror—and a frank explorer of sexuality and the transgressive aspects of human nature, focusing on the unfashionable post-industrial Black Country and his home city of Birmingham. The book I wish I were publishing: Exit Management by Naomi Booth, out now. Exit Management is an incredibly compulsive, yet poetic story about xenophobia, the north/south divide, the complexities of trauma and the cruelties of class aspiration, set against the backdrop of Brexit. Naomi is exceptional at telling incredibly dark stories and certainly doesn’t disappoint this time around.

Kevin Duffy    
Publisher at Bluemoose Books
My autumn pick: Should we Fall Behind by Sharon Duggal, out 20th October. As award winning writer Preti Taneja says: “Duggal writes about the devastation of vulnerable lives with all the hard-eyed clarity of William Trevor, and as much literary heart as Rohinton Mistry.” The book I wish I were publishing: Exit Management by Naomi Booth. 

Becca Parkinson    
Sales and production manager, Comma Press
My autumn pick: God 99 by Hassan Blasim, out 12th November. The novel is a piece of experimental auto fiction that is made up of a series of interviews that will capture the real stories behind Europe’s so called “refugee crisis”. The book I wish I were publishing: London Incognita by Gary Budden. From the sounds it’s going to be a brilliant exploration of London through the lens of modern horror, psychogeography and weird fiction, all of which we at Comma are fans of and we are excited to read more of Gary’s writing.

Adam Freudenheim
M.d. at Pushkin Press
My autumn pick: When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamín Labatut, translated by Adrian Nathan West, out now. I couldn’t put it down and it deserves a wide audience—if you enjoyed Carlo Rovelli’s books, read this. The book I wish I were publishing: On Connection by Kae Tempest (Faber), out 1st October. I’m looking forward to Kae Tempest’s On Connection, as I’ve long been a fan of their work and this first foray into non-fiction looks important and timely.

Aimée Felone    
Publisher at Knights Of
My autumn pick: Lu by Jason Reynolds, out now. As a character Lu is compassionate and daring, his journey on the running track is just as much about getting to the finish line as it is about overcoming his own personal hurdles. An emotional close to what has been a fantastic series! The book I wish I were publishing: If I Don’t Have You by Sareeta Domingo (Jacaranda Books), out now. I watched in wonder as Jacaranda managed to successfully launch Sareeta Domingo’s If I Don’t Have You—a wonderful story of black British love at first sight.

Kate Wilson    
M.d. at Nosy Crow
My autumn pick: What Are Little Girls Made Of?: Nursery Rhymes for Feminist Times by Jeanne Willis, illustrated by Isabelle Follath, out now. This is a witty, quirky, timely little hardback gift book, that we can see selling especially well through indies and of which we’re particularly proud. The book I wish I were publishing: The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveltd (Faber), out now. Nosy Crow doesn’t publish adult books, but sometimes I come across a book that makes me wish I did. I find myself consistently compelled and occasionally repelled by the extraordinary matter-of-fact, viscerally affecting and clear-sighted narrative of Marieke Lucas Rijneveltd’s The Discomfort of Evening.

Will Atkinson    
M.d. at Atlantic Books
My autumn pick: Why Germans do it Better by John Kampfner, out now. I have long been fascinated by the relationship between our two countries and peoples. We are so similar and yet so different, and this book takes that comparison to new levels. Smart and wryly personal. The book I wish I were publishing: Earthlings by Sayaka Murata (Granta Books), out 1st October. I will wait until Christmas to enjoy the new Elena Farrante, and in the meantime Earthlings by Sayaka Murata who wrote Convenience Store Woman will be a real treat.

Andrew Franklin    
M.d. at Profie Books
My autumn pick: Seven Kinds of People You Find in a Bookshop by Shaun Bythell, out 5th November. The book we most need as we champion physical books in real bookshops. The book I wish I were publishing: Island Dreams by Gavin Francis (Canongate), out 1st October: an exquisite package that is a perfect example of how publishers can take a work of exceptional merit and make it extraordinary with perfect packaging.