In the Spotlight

Brian Kaufman

Brian Kaufman

Publisher, Anvil Press

Vancouver, Canada       Member Since: 2018

About: Brian Kaufman, a writer, editor, and publisher, has been active in the publishing community for thirty years. Mr. Kaufman has ushered over 180 books and 79 issues of subTerrain Magazine into print, and he is a past recipient of the City of Vancouver’s Mayor’s Arts Award for his “significant contribution to Vancouver’s arts and cultural community, for shaping Vancouver as a creative city, and for enriching the lives of Vancouver’s citizens.”

Photo credit: Derek von Essen

What are some of the greatest challenges facing small press publishers and editors today?
Two of the greatest challenges that I feel we as small press publishers face is getting attention for our books and reaching readers. With dwindling print review outlets and indie bookstores closing their doors, we all face the growing challenge of connecting with our target readership, letting them know that the books exist. More and more we're reaching out online—as well as through the good print venues that have managed to survive—bloggers, online review sites, etc.... but it's a more diffuse playing field than it was, say, even ten years ago.

What do you like in a story, whether fiction or nonfiction?
To have my reader’s expectations turned upside down.

Is there a book that made you fall in love with literature?
The Grapes of Wrath.

Is there a manuscript published in the last ten years that you wish had come across your desk?
Exit West / Mohsin Hamid.

What are you reading right now?
Damascus by Joshua Mohr and Black Wave by Michelle Tea.

How do you balance your work as a writer and as an editor of others writing?
"Balance" is the key word, and I wish I were better at it. I feel like I have to steal time to do any of my own writing. Publishing can swallow up as much time as you want to give it. There is always something more you can do or try when trying to publicize and market the books. So, at some point I have to say, ok, enough, a bit of "me" time now.

What is the best advice you can give an aspiring writer?
Don’t give up; write what is burning to be said.

What is the best lesson you have learned from a book?
The truth will out.

What is your favorite book title?
A Confederacy of Dunces.

What can we do to bring a more diverse community of writers to our bookstores and literary journals?
We have to open the doors, invite different voices in. Let writers from diverse communities know that we want to hear their stories, see their work. And I would like to see more publishing houses rise out of more diverse communities. We need to be supportive of work from all sectors; we have to collaborate more, do whatever it takes to get the activity happening, to get the words and the stories out there.

What does your office look like?
The somewhat cluttered environs of a busy notary public.

What are your favorite literary magazines?
Bookforum, Granta, and Subterrain.

Who are your favorite literary publishers?
FSG, Verso, Coach House, and Melville House.

How has AWP helped you in your career and/or creative endeavors?
The bookfair is fabulous! We meet so many people who care about what we do. And we also get exposed to so much great literary activity!

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