Books coming out in early 2023
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30 Indie Books to Look Out for in Early 2023

30 Indie Books to Look Out for in Early 2023 is a literary listicle compiled by IBR founder Joe Walters, including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry from small to mid-sized publishers like Mason Jar Press, Two Dollar Radio, and more.

30 Indie Books to Look Out for in Early 2023″

Curated by Joe Walters

Which great books from indie presses and indie authors are coming out in early 2023?

2023 sounds like a year from the future. (It is, I guess, but different). Like a far-off time, an impossible arrival date. But here you are, alive and reading.

The indie publishing landscape looks a bit different than what you see out of the Big Five (or Four/Three/Two/One), especially when it comes to books for pre-order. You don’t see a lot of anticipated indie lists because not all indies make their books available early.

But hey, some do. And for the beginning of next year, they look incredible.

These presses care a ton about their authors and their books. It’s one of the main things you’ll find in common with so many of them: a love of books and a desire for them to be read widely. When I saw what kind of wonder was expected out of these smaller to mid-sized publishers in early 2023, I knew I had to share them with you.

No matter if you’re in the mood for poetic prose, informative nonfiction, or a deeper entrenchment into the earth for every second we’re still alive here, this list has something for you.

Here’s my list of indie books to look out for in early 2023.

#1. The Dream Builders

by Oindrila Mukherjee

Dream Builders is one of IBR's anticipated indie books of 2023

Releases in January 2023

Publisher: Tin House Books

Genre: Literary Fiction / World Literature – India

About the Book:

After living in the US for years, Maneka Roy returns home to India to mourn the loss of her mother and finds herself in a new world. The booming city of Hrishipur where her father now lives is nothing like the part of the country where she grew up, and the more she sees of this new, sparkling city, the more she learns that nothing―and no one―here is as it appears. Ultimately, it will take an unexpected tragic event for Maneka and those around her to finally understand just how fragile life is in this city built on aspirations.

Written from the perspectives of ten different characters, Oindrila Mukherjee’s incisive debut novel explores class divisions, gender roles, and stories of survival within a society that is constantly changing and becoming increasingly Americanized. It’s a story about India today, and people impacted by globalization everywhere: a tale of ambition, longing, and bitter loss that asks what it really costs to try and build a dream.

#2. Funeral

by Daisuke Shen & Vi Ki Nao

Funeral by Daisuke Shen and Vi Khi Nao is one of IBR's anticipated indie books of 2023

Releases January 2023

Publisher: Kernpunkt Press

Genre: Literary Fiction / Myth / LGBTQ+

About the Book:

Written using prose, images, lists, diagrams, songs, and plays, the novella Funeral follows Eddie from the 1969 film Funeral Parade of Roses in her descent to Hell.  In Hell, Eddie meets and falls in love with Madame Rose during lunch. They spend their days creating Hell’s first boba shop and cheering on Hell in the final pingpong match against Heaven, but  their relationship soon falls apart. When Xing returns home to  Shanghai via Hell’s bullet train, Eddie sets out on a journey to win  her back, accompanied by her friends Tony Leung, the god Tu’Er  Shen, the moon, Mary Poppins, and her over-talkative Uber  driver, Jimin Park. In this co-authored novella, DAISUKE SHEN & VI KHI NAO explore the depths of morality, pain, and queerness  with irreverent humor and unflinching honesty.

#3. After the Rapture

by Nancy Stohlman

After the Rapture by Nancy Stohlman is one of IBR's anticipated indie books of 2023

Releases March 2023

Publisher: Mason Jar Press

Genre: Literary Fiction / Dystopian

About the Book:

“In this world of Walmarts, Barbies, Kens, orgies/time-shares, 7-11s, clones, a red Lake Michigan, and dreams, Nancy Stohlman’s humor and talent shines. The rapture becomes more than just a rapture: it’s a world turning on its head, acceptance, and then finding a new normal. Redeeming and heart-felt, this dystopian novel-in-flashes is one not to forget. After the Rapture is a rapture!” – Kim Chinquee, three-time Pushcart Prize winner, author of seven collections and the novel, PIPETTE

After The Rapture is a startling, rhapsodic, brilliant tome. Stohlman dares to venture into an intricate mosaic of layered, futuristic identities, individualities, and lives both wasted and yet fully explored. A dazzling oscillation of scintillating prose, on the threshold between the ephemeral and the eternal. After the Rapture is a book full of surprise and wonder, a compelling and majestic book.” – Robert Vaughan, author of AskewFunhouse and Addicts & Basements

#4. Sweetlust

by Asja Bakic

Sweetlust by Asja Bakic and translated by Jennifer Zoble Dream Builders is one of IBR's anticipated indie books of 2023

Released February 2023

Publisher: The Feminist Press

Genre: Short Story Collection / Science Fiction

About the Book:

The eleven stories in Sweetlust interweave feminist critique, intertextuality, and science fiction tropes in an irreverent portrait of our past, present, and future.

In a dystopian world with no men, women are “rehabilitated” at an erotic amusement park. Climate change has caused massive flooding and warming in the Balkans, where one programmer builds a time machine. And a devious reimagining of The Sorrows of Young Werther refocuses to center a sexually adventurous Charlotte.

Asja Bakić deploys the speculative and weird to playfully interrogate conversations around artificial intelligence, gender fluidity, and environmental degradation. As she did in her acclaimed debut Mars, Bakić once again upends her characters’ convictions and identities—and infuses each disorienting universe with sly humor and off-kilter eroticism. Visceral and otherworldly, Sweetlust takes apart human desire and fragility, repeatedly framing pleasure as both inviting and perilous.

#5. The Merry Dredgers

by Jeremy C. Shipp

Releases March 2023

Publisher: Meerkat Press

Genre: Dark Fantasy / Occult

About the Book:

Seraphina must infiltrate a bizarre and dangerous cult to determine why her sister is in a coma after a mysterious accident at the hands of the cult members. 

Seraphina Ramon will stop at nothing to find out the truth about why her sister Eff is in a coma after a very suspicious “accident.” Even it means infiltrating the last place Seraphina knows Eff was alive: a once-abandoned amusement park now populated by a community of cultists.

 Follow Seraphina through the mouth of the Goblin: To the left, a wolf-themed roller coaster rests on the blackened earth, curled up like a dead snake. To the right, an animatronic Humpty Dumpy falls off a concrete castle and shatters on the ground, only to reform itself moments later. Up ahead, cultists giggle as they meditate in a hall of mirrors. This is the last place in the world Seraphina wants to be, but the best way to investigate this bizarre cult is to join them.

#6. Promised Shadows

by M.K. Ahearn

Releases January 2023

Genre: Young Adult Fiction / Fantasy

About the Book:

Rae is a skilled thief, willing to complete any job for the right price, that is until one job does not go according to plan. After coming face to face with a deadly and powerful prince, Rae has made a bargain that thrusts her into the center of palace life and fighting to save a kingdom she is not even sure she has much faith in. 

Gavriel is the Royal Prince of Apricus, set to rule the kingdom one day, that is if the shadows do not rise again and tear it apart, driving them into a never-ending darkness. Alongside his twin sister, Rory, and loyal friend, River, the three work tirelessly to find a solution that will end the shadows for good. Their prayers seem to be answered when they are forced into a bargain with a criminal: Rae.

Together the group races against time to locate a long lost ancient artifact that just might be the key to saving their kingdom. The only problem is after 17 years of hiding and building their forces, the shadows are also on the hunt and they are seeking revenge. Will the group be able to beat the odds and find a crown that may only exist in legends before it is too late?

#7. The Kudzu Queen

by Mimi Herman

Releases January 2023

Publisher: Regal House Publishing

Genre: Historical Fiction / Coming of Age

About the Book:

“Funny, sad, and tender… Mimi Herman has written a novel that possesses a true and hard won understanding of the South.” —David Sedaris, author of Happy-Go-Lucky

Fifteen-year-old Mattie Lee Watson dreams of men, not boys. So when James T. Cullowee, the Kudzu King, arrives in Cooper County, North Carolina in 1941 to spread the gospel of kudzu—claiming that it will improve the soil, feed cattle at almost no cost, even cure headaches—Mattie is ready. Mr. Cullowee is determined to sell the entire county on the future of kudzu, and organizes a kudzu festival, complete with a beauty pageant. Mattie is determined to be crowned Kudzu Queen and capture the attentions of the Kudzu King.

As she learns more about Cullowee, however, she discovers that he, like the kudzu he promotes, has a dark and predatory side. When she finds she is not the only one threatened, she devises a plan to bring him down. Based on historical facts, The Kudzu Queen unravels a tangle of sexuality, power, race, and kudzu through the voice of an irresistibly delightful (and mostly honest) narrator.

#8. Zephyr

by Evan Chronis

Releases January 2023

Genre: Science Fiction / Dystopia

About the Book:

1990: Bill Milo leaves home to see the world. He crosses desert and ocean, searching for purpose but never quite finding it. One day, Bill meets an old man taking his daily walk. He warns Bill that God will soon test mankind with a great flood, and that man will respond with fear and division. His words haunt him for years to come.

2015: August Milo spends her time caring for her grandparents and running her bakery. On a cold winter day, a customer named George orders a cake for his grandmother’s hundredth birthday. They find warmth in each other.

2025: Tyler Haji plots to avenge his brother’s death. Before he can realize his duty, a once-in-a-millennium flood ravages the East Coast. Many of the survivors flee west to join Bill Edenson, an alleged modern-day prophet; others stay and adhere to a resurgent Eastern regime. Tyler wallows in his past among the Eastern ranks until a greater calling beckons him west.

0017 Post-Flood: Succession is the natural order of things. Adam memorized his father’s words at a young age. Sooner than later, Adam would take on his father’s mantle, just as generations of Crombies before him had. Adam woefully accepts his fate until a mysterious herald names him heir to a greater prize: the West.

Spanning time, genre, and place, Zephyr traces the impacts of trauma, hope, and pride on ourselves and on those we hold dearest.

#9. Dioramas

by Blair Austin

Releases March 2023

Publisher: Dzanc Books

Genre: Literary Fiction / Dystopian

About the Book:

In this hybrid novel—part essay, part prose poem, part travel narrative—Blair Austin brings us nose to the glass with our own vanishing world, what we preserve and at what cost.

In a city far in the future, in a society that has come through a great upheaval, retired lecturer Wiggins moves from window to window in a museum, intricately describing each scene. Whales gliding above a shipwreck and a lost cup and saucer. An animatronic forest twenty stories tall. urban wolves in the light of an apartment building. A line of mosquitoes in uniforms and regalia, honored as heroes of the last great war.
 
Bit by bit, Wiggins unspools the secrets of his world—the conflict that brought it to the brink, and the great thinker, Michaux, who led the diorama revolution, himself now preserved under glass.
 
After a phone call in the middle of the night, Wiggins sets out to visit the Diorama of the Town: an entire, dioramic world, hundreds of miles across, where people are objects of curiosity, taxidermied and posed. All his life, Wiggins has longed to see it. But in the Town, he comes face to face with the diorama’s contradictions. Its legacy of political violence. Its manipulation by those with power and money. And its paper-thin promise of immortality.

#10. Owl in the Oak Tree

by Penny Walker Veraar

Releases February 2023

Genre: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense / Family Life

About the Book:

She’s the key witness to a drive-by shooting. But what happens when her duty to justice threatens the most important thing in her world—her family?

Reagan Ramsey—mother and middle school teacher extraordinaire—knows how to hold it together in the face of adversity. In the aftermath of her husband’s death from cancer, Reagan is doing everything she can to help her two children process their father’s passing while trying to sort out what a new normal looks like for their family. The loss proves especially difficult for her seven-year-old daughter, Lizzie, who has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism and is nonverbal. Lizzie’s father had been her protector, a hands-on parent since the day she was born, and in his absence, her behavior becomes increasingly challenging as she struggles to express her feelings of loss and confusion.

But when a random encounter puts Reagan in the cross fire of a drive-by shooting—an event that shakes the foundation of her community—she suddenly becomes an involuntary key witness to a murder that turns her world, and her sense of safety, upside down. Trapped between protecting her family and helping to bring the killer to justice, Reagan’s sense of right and wrong is tested like never before.

As fear and shame threaten to break Reagan, she must learn to rely on her own conscience and her community for the strength to put her life on the line for those she loves. A piercing examination of how grief and gun violence reshape families and communities, Owl in the Oak Tree is at once a taut thriller and a story of love and redemption

#11. The Red-Headed Pilgrim

by Kevin Maloney

The Red-Headed Pilgrim is one of IBR's anticipated indie books of 2023

Releases January 2023

Publisher: Two Dollar Radio

Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Humor

About the Book:

Provocative, poignant, and resoundingly hilarious, The Red-Headed Pilgrim is the tragicomic tale of an anxious red-head and his sordid pursuit of enlightenment and pleasure (not necessarily in that order).

On a sunny day in a business park near Portland, Oregon, 42-year-old web developer Kevin Maloney is in the throes of an existential crisis that finds him shoeless in a field of Queen Anne’s lace, reflecting on the tumultuous events that brought him to this moment. Growing up in the suburbs, young Kevin suffered “a psychological break that ripped me from my humdrum existence” mainlining high fructose corn syrup and episodes of The Golden Girls. Thus begins a journey of hard-earned insights and sexual awakening that takes Kevin from angst-ridden Beaverton to the beaches of San Diego, a frontier-themed roadside attraction in Helena, Montana, and a hermetic shack on an organic lettuce farm.

Everything changes when Kevin falls in love with Wendy. After a chance tarot reading lands them on the frigid coast of Maine, their lives are unsettled by the birth of their daughter, Zoë, whose sudden presence is oftentimes terrifying, frequently disturbing, and yet—miraculously—always wondrous.

The Red-Headed Pilgrim is an irresistible novel of misadventure and new beginnings, of wanderlust and bad decisions, of parenthood and divorce, and of the heartfelt truths we unearth when we least expect it.

#12. Shoot the Horses First

by Leah Angstman

Releases January 2023

Publisher: Kernpunkt Press

Genre: Short Story Collection / Historical Fiction

About the Book:

A debut collection of genre-bending short histories and novellas spanning 16th- through early 20th-century.

Through a historian’s lens and folkloric storytelling, the pieces in SHOOT THE HORSES FIRST revel in the nuances, brutality, mythology, and tiny victories of our historical past. A launderer takes us inside the linens of the richest families in early Baltimore. A child on the Orphan Train has his teeth inspected like a horse. Civil War soldiers experience PTSD. While one woman lands on an island of the Wampanoag tribe, a woman 200 years later finds Apache in a harsh frontier. Children survive yellow fever, the desert heat, and mistaken identities; men survive severed fingers, untested medicines, and wives with obsessive compulsive disorders. Frederick Douglass’ grandson plays violin at the World’s Fair on Colored American Day, a woman with disabilities is kept hidden away like she doesn’t exist, and a botanist is denied her place in a science journal because she is female. Themes of place, war, mental illness, identity, disability, feminism, and unyielding optimism throughout harrowing desperation resurface in this collection of stories that takes us back to time immemorial, yet feels so close, and all too familiar.

#13. The Raven

by Dani Lamia

Releases February 2023

Publisher: Level 4 Press

Genre: Dark Fantasy / Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

About the Book:

She saw The Raven in her dreams. Now her life’s a nightmare.

No matter how hard she tries, Rebekah just doesn’t fit in at her prestigious Ivy League prep school. The cruel, privileged students ridicule and bully her on a daily basis. And instead of standing up for herself, Rebekah retreats into a dark, unsettling world of nightmarish visions . . .

In her dreams, a cloaked figure named The Raven gives her a chance to turn the tables on her tormentors, and exact bloody revenge. At first, she secretly relishes the power, but then Rebekah discovers her dreams have terrifying consequences: The Raven’s brutal revenge is real.

Ripped straight from the pages of Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven unlocks deep truths about humanity and tackles self-worth, morality, and the pain of doing what’s right at all costs.

#14. I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself

by Marisa Crane

Releases January 2023

Publisher: Catapult

Genre: Science Fiction / LGBTQ+

About the Book:

Dept. of Speculation meets Black Mirror in this lyrical, speculative debut about a queer mother raising her daughter in an unjust surveillance state

In a United States not so unlike our own, the Department of Balance has adopted a radical new form of law enforcement: rather than incarceration, wrongdoers are given a second (and sometimes, third, fourth, and fifth) shadow as a reminder of their crime—and a warning to those they encounter. Within the Department, corruption and prejudice run rampant, giving rise to an underclass of so-called Shadesters who are disenfranchised, publicly shamed, and deprived of civil rights protections.

Kris is a Shadester and a new mother to a baby born with a second shadow of her own. Grieving the loss of her wife and thoroughly unprepared for the reality of raising a child alone, Kris teeters on the edge of collapse, fumbling in a daze of alcohol, shame, and self-loathing. Yet as the kid grows, Kris finds her footing, raising a child whose irrepressible spark cannot be dampened by the harsh realities of the world. She can’t forget her wife, but with time, she can make a new life for herself and the kid, supported by a community of fellow misfits who defy the Department to lift one another up in solidarity and hope.

With a first-person register reminiscent of the fierce self-disclosure of Sheila Heti and the poetic precision of Ocean Vuong, I Keep My Exoskeletons to Myself is a bold debut novel that examines the long shadow of grief, the hard work of parenting, and the power of queer resistance.

#15. Origami Dogs

by Noley Reid

Releases April 2023

Publisher: Autumn House Press

Genre: Short Story Collection

About the Book:

Stories of characters who face tragedies alongside their canine companions.
 
Noley Reid’s fourth book, Origami Dogs, is a testament to her mastery of the form. Here, dogs rove the grounds of their companions’ emotions. The creatures in this short story collection often act subtly, serving as witnesses without language, exacerbating tension and providing relief to the human characters. Sometimes they are central to the stories’ plots, such as in the lead story, “Origami Dogs,” which focuses on Iris Garr, a dog breeder’s teenage daughter, as she begins noticing odd birth defects in new litters and realizes she must confront her mother, whom she loves yet cannot help but resent. In some stories, teens struggle toward womanhood or wrestle with sexuality and queerness, confronting parents who are unable to provide the care or support they need. In other stories, Reid’s characters are adults striving to be better spouses, parents, or both, and are often grappling with life-changing events—like a new disability or the loss of a child. Despite the gravitas of these tragedies, with Reid’s touch, they feel alive, present, and painfully close. Reid brings us to her characters in the fierce damp aftermath of calamity and asks us to dwell with them until new possibilities arrive.

At these tipping points, the characters of Origami Dogs stand ready with their dogs (or memories of them), to take the next step. By turns tender, moving, and devastating, this story collection is a celebration of the bond of devotion possible between humans and dogs, and it presents an intimate rendering of the lives we share.

#16. The Company of Strangers

by Jennifer Michalski

Releases January 2023

Publisher: Braddock Avenue Books

Genre: Short Story Collection / LGBTQ+ / Contemporary Fiction

About the Book:

The stories in Jen Michalski’s new collection reveal an America in which ideas of genuine community ring false and the spiritual backbone of family life is damaged, perhaps beyond repair. Characters, many of them queer Gen-Xers of a certain age, find themselves looking―often desperately―for a way to understand the lives they’ve lived and a way to move forward with at least the possibility of future happiness.

In “Long Haul,” a gay man visits his estranged uncle to lay to rest the unresolved guilt they both feel over the childhood disappearance of his sister. In “Great White” a gay man who was the sperm donor to a lesbian friend’s pregnancy, is confronted with the possibility of genuine parenthood when the friend’s partner dies and she is laid-low by grief. And in the title story, a young woman affirms her sexuality by having an affair with her brother’s wife; the fallout leading her to regain her footing only when she befriends an elderly gay couple vacationing in the area.

In stories that relentlessly demonstrate the tensions of the 21st century, Michalski’s The Company of Strangers provides a sometimes comical, sometimes touching portrait of what is perhaps our most pressing question: How do we make a life?

#17. Boundless as the Sky

by Dawn Raffel

Releases January 2023

Publisher: Sagging Meniscus Press

Genre: Historical Fiction

About the Book:

Dawn Raffel’s Boundless as the Sky is a book of the invisible histories that repose beneath the cities we inhabit, and the worlds we try to build out of words. The first of its two parts, stories of real and invented cities, some ancient, some dystopian, is a feminist response to Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities.

The second part comes together into one narrative, taking place in a single city—Chicago—on a single day in 1933. It is based closely on a true event, the arrival of a “roaring armada of goodwill” in the form of twenty-four seaplanes flown in a display of fascist power by Mussolini’s wingman Italo Balbo to Chicago’s “Century of Progress” World’s Fair. The 7000-mile flight from Rome to Chicago was lauded by both Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Hitler, at a time when aviation made banner headlines across the US, and news of the Nazis was often in a side column.

The novella follows a few of the many thousands of Chicagoans there to witness the planes’ arrival. These two panels of Raffel’s poetic diptych call out to each other with a mysterious and disquieting harmony, and from history and fantasy to the dangers and dark realities of the current moment with startling insight and urgency.

#18. Who Gets Believed?

by Dina Nayeri

Who Gets Belieed? is one of IBR's anticipated indie books of 2023

Releases March 2023

Publisher: Catapult

Genre: Immigration / Sociology

About the Book:

From the author of The Ungrateful Refugee—finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Kirkus Prize—Who Gets Believed? is a groundbreaking book about persuasion and performance that asks unsettling questions about lies, truths, and the difference between being believed and being dismissed in situations spanning asylum interviews, emergency rooms, consulting jobs, and family life

Why are honest asylum seekers dismissed as liars?

Former refugee and award-winning author Dina Nayeri begins with this question, turning to shocking and illuminating case studies in this book, which grows into a reckoning with our culture’s views on believability. From persuading a doctor that she’d prefer a C-section to learning to “bullshit gracefully” at McKinsey to struggling, in her personal life, to believe her troubled brother-in-law, Nayeri explores an aspect of our society that is rarely held up to the light.

For readers of David Grann, Malcolm Gladwell, and Atul Gawande, Who Gets Believed? is a book as deeply personal as it is profound in its reflections on morals, language, human psychology, and the unspoken social codes that determine how we relate to one another.

#19. The Wise Hours

by Miriam Darlington

The Wise hours is one of IBR's anticipated indie books of 2023

Releases February 2023

Publisher: Tin House Books

Genre: Science & Nature / Animals

About the Book:

One minute I was sipping my tea by the window. There was nothing but the palest edge of grey light and a wisp of steam from my cup―and then a shadow swooped out of the air. With the lightest of scratches, as if the dawn light was solidifying into life, there it was, perched like an exclamation mark on the balcony: an owl, come to my home.

Owls have existed for over sixty million years, and in the relatively short time we have shared the planet with these majestic birds they have ignited the human imagination. But even as owls continue to captivate our collective consciousness, celebrated British nature writer Miriam Darlington finds herself struck by all she doesn’t know about the true nature of these enigmatic creatures.

Darlington begins her fieldwork in the British Isles with her teenage son, Benji. As her avian fascination grows, she travels to France, Serbia, Spain, Finland, and the frosted Lapland borders of the Arctic for rare encounters with the Barn Owl, Tawny Owl, Long-eared Owl, Pygmy Owl, Snowy Owl, and more. But when her son develops a mysterious illness, her quest to understand the elusive nature of owls becomes entangled with her search for finding a cure.

In The Wise Hours, Darlington watches and listens to the natural world and to the rhythms of her home and family, inviting readers to discover the wonders of owls alongside her while rewilding our imagination with the mystery, fragility, and magnificence of all creatures.

#20. A Darker Wilderness

Edited by Erin Sharkey

Releases February 2023

Publisher: Milkweed Editions

Genre: Science & Nature / African & African American Studies

About the Book:

A vibrant collection of personal and lyric essays in conversation with archival objects of Black history and memory.

What are the politics of nature? Who owns it, where is it, what role does it play in our lives? Does it need to be tamed? Are we ourselves natural? In A Darker Wilderness, a constellation of luminary writers reflect on the significance of nature in their lived experience and on the role of nature in the lives of Black folks in the United States. Each of these essays engages with a single archival object, whether directly or obliquely, exploring stories spanning hundreds of years and thousands of miles, traveling from roots to space and finding rich Blackness everywhere.

Erin Sharkey considers Benjamin Banneker’s 1795 almanac, as she follows the passing of seasons in an urban garden in Buffalo. Naima Penniman reflects on a statue of Haitian revolutionary François Makandal, within her own pursuit of environmental justice. Ama Codjoe meditates on rain, hair, protest, and freedom via a photo of a young woman during a civil rights demonstration in Alabama. And so on—with wide-ranging contributions from Carolyn Finney, Ronald Greer II, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Sean Hill, Michael Kleber-Diggs, Glynn Pogue, Katie Robinson, and Lauret Savoy—unearthing evidence of the ways Black people’s relationship to the natural world has persevered through colonialism, slavery, state-sponsored violence, and structurally racist policies like Jim Crow and redlining.

A scrapbook, a family chest, a quilt—and an astounding work of historical engagement and literary accomplishment—A Darker Wilderness is a collection brimming with abundance and insight.

#21. Not Too Late

by Rebecca Solnit

Releases April 2023

Publisher: Haymarket Books

Genre: Climate & Ecology

About the Book:

An energizing case for hope about the climate, from Rebecca Solnit (“the voice of the resistance”New York Times), climate activist Thelma Young Lutunatabua, and a chorus of voices calling on us to rise to the moment.

Not Too Late is the book for anyone who is despondent, anxious, or unsure about climate change and seeking answers. As the contributors to this volume make clear, the future will be decided by whether we act in the present—and we must act to counter institutional inertia, fossil fuel interests, and political obduracy.

These dispatches from the climate movement around the world feature the voices of organizers like Guam-based lawyer and writer Julian Aguon; climate scientists like Dr. Jacquelyn Gill and Dr. Edward Carr; poets like Marshall Islands activist Kathy Jetnil-Kijner; and longtime organizers like The Tyranny of Oil author Antonia Juhasz and Emergent Strategy author adrienne maree brown. Guided by Rebecca Solnit’s typical clear-eyed wisdom and enriched by illustrations, Not Too Late leads readers from discouragement to possibilities, from climate despair to climate hope.

Contributors include Julian Aguon, Jade Begay, adrienne maree brown, Edward Carr, Renato Redantor Constantino, Joelle Gergis, Jacquelyn Gill, Mary Annaise Heglar, Mary Ann Hitt, Roshi Joan Halifax, Nikayla Jefferson, Antonia Juhasz, Kathy Jetnil Kijiner, Fenton Lutunatabua & Joseph `Sikulu, Yotam Marom, Denali Nalamalapu, Leah Stokes, Farhana Sultana, and Gloria Walton.

#22. Mixed Signals

by Uri Gneezy

Releases March 2023

Publisher: Yale University Press

Genre: Decision-Making & Problem Solving / Business & Marketing

About the Book:

An informative and entertaining account of how actions send signals that shape behaviors and how to design better incentives for better results in our life, our work, and our world
 
Incentives send powerful signals that aim to influence behavior. But often there is a conflict between what we say and what we do in response to these incentives. The result: mixed signals.
 
Consider the CEO who urges teamwork but designs incentives for individual success, who invites innovation but punishes failure, who emphasizes quality but pays for quantity. Employing real-world scenarios just like this to illustrate this everyday phenomenon, behavioral economist Uri Gneezy explains why incentives often fail and demonstrates how the right incentives can change behavior by aligning with signals for better results.
 
Drawing on behavioral economics, game theory, psychology, and fieldwork, Gneezy outlines how to be incentive smart, designing rewards that are simple and effective. He highlights how the right combination of economic and psychological incentives can encourage people to drive more fuel-efficient cars, be more innovative at work, and even get to the gym. “Incentives send a signal,” Gneezy writes, “and your objective is to make sure this signal is aligned with your goals.”

#23. Fieldwork

by Iliana Regan

Fieldwork by Iliana Regan is one of IBR's anticipated indie books of 2023

Releases January 2023

Publisher: Agate Publishing

Genre: Culinary Biography & Memoir / Nature & Ecology

About the Book:

From National Book Award–nominee Iliana Regan, a new memoir of her life and heritage as a forager, spanning her ancestry in Eastern Europe, her childhood in rural Indiana, and her new life set in the remote forests of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Fieldwork explores how Regan’s complex gender identity informs her acclaimed work as a chef and her profound experience of the natural world.

Not long after Iliana Regan’s celebrated debut, Burn the Place, became the first food-related title in four decades to become a National Book Award nominee in 2019, her career as a Michelin star–winning chef took a sharp turn north. Long based in Chicago, she and her new wife, Anna, decided to create a culinary destination, the Milkweed Inn, located in Michigan’s remote Upper Peninsula, where much of the food served to their guests would be foraged by Regan herself in the surrounding forest and nearby river. Part fresh challenge, part escape, Regan’s move to the forest was also a return to her rural roots, in an effort to deepen the intimate connection to nature and the land that she’d long expressed as a chef, but experienced most intensely growing up.

On her family’s farm in rural Indiana, Regan was the beloved youngest in a family with three much older sisters. From a very early age, her relationship with her mother and father was shaped by her childhood identification as a boy. Her father treated her like the son he never had, and together they foraged for mushrooms, berries, herbs, and other wild food in the surrounding countryside—especially her grandfather’s nearby farm, where they also fished in its pond and young Iliana explored the accumulated family treasures stored in its dusty barn. Her father would share stories of his own grandmother, Busia, who’d helped run a family inn while growing up in eastern Europe, from which she imported her own wild legends of her native forests, before settling in Gary, Indiana, and opening Jennie’s Café, a restaurant that fed generations of local steelworkers. He also shared with Iliana a steady supply of sharp knives and—as she got older—guns.

Iliana’s mother had family stories as well—not only of her own years marrying young, raising headstrong girls, and cooking at Jennie’s, but also of her father, Wayne, who spent much of his boyhood hunting with the men of his family in the frozen reaches of rural Canada. The stories from this side of Regan’s family are darker, riven with alcoholism and domestic strife too often expressed in the harm, physical and otherwise, perpetrated by men—harm men do to women and families, and harm men do to the entire landscapes they occupy.

As Regan explores the ancient landscape of Michigan’s boreal forest, her stories of the land, its creatures, and its dazzling profusion of plant and vegetable life are interspersed with her and Anna’s efforts to make a home and a business of an inn that’s suddenly, as of their first full season there in 2020, empty of guests due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She discovers where the wild blueberry bushes bear tiny fruit, where to gather wood sorrel, and where and when the land’s different mushroom species appear—even as surrounding parcels of land are suddenly and violently decimated by logging crews that obliterate plant life and drive away the area’s birds. Along the way she struggles not only with the threat of COVID, but also with her personal and familial legacies of addiction, violence, fear, and obsession—all while she tries to conceive a child that she and her immune-compromised wife hope to raise in their new home.

With Burn the Place, Regan announced herself as a writer whose extravagant, unconventional talents matched her abilities as a lauded chef. In Fieldwork, she digs even deeper to express the meaning and beauty we seek in the landscapes, and stories, that reveal the forces which inform, shape, and nurture our lives.

#24. The Language of Trees

by Katie Holten

Releases April 2023

Publisher: Tin House Books

Genre: Nature & Ecology / Trees / Literature

About the Book:

“A masterpiece. Katie Holten’s tree alphabet is a gift to the printed world.”―Max Porter, author of Grief is a Thing with Feathers

Inspired by forests, trees, leaves, roots, and seeds, The Language of Trees: A Rewilding of Literature and Landscape invites readers to discover an unexpected and imaginative language to better read and write the natural world around us and reclaim our relationship with it. In this gorgeously illustrated and deeply thoughtful collection, Katie Holten gifts readers her tree alphabet and uses it to masterfully translate and illuminate beloved writing in praise of the natural world. With an introduction from Ross Gay, and featuring writings from over fifty contributors, including Ursula K. Le Guin, Ada Limón, Robert Macfarlane, Zadie Smith, Radiohead, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, James Gleick, Elizabeth Kolbert, Plato, and Robin Wall Kimmerer, Holten illustrates each selection with an abiding love and reverence for the magic of trees. She guides readers on a journey from “primeval atoms” and cave paintings to the death of a 3,500 year-old cypress tree, from Tree Clocks in Mongolia and forest fragments in the Amazon to the language of fossil poetry, unearthing a new way to see the natural beauty all around us and an urgent reminder of what could happen if we allow it to slip away.

The Language of Trees considers our relationship with literature and landscape, resulting in an astonishing fusion of storytelling and art and a deeply beautiful celebration of trees through the ages.

#25. This Wide Terraqueous World

by Laird Hunt

This Wide Terraqueous World by Laird Hunt is one of IBR's anticipated indie books of 2023

Releases March 2023

Publisher: Coffee House Press

Genre: Writing & Publishing / Memoir

About the Book:

Haunting essays from acclaimed author Laird Hunt balance intimate remembrance with an examination of the writing life.

In this new collection of nonfiction from the celebrated author of Zorrie, Laird Hunt uses fiction as an inspiration, a tool, even an obsession, employing its methods to get to the heart of experience. The “sizzling” work of Jane Bowles colors his wanderings through Palermo, while a London museum trip provokes a consideration of taxidermy’s storytelling potential, and fairytales blend with echoes of W. G. Sebald, Willa Cather, and László Krasznahorkai. From intrigue at the United Nations to a broken-down car in Nebraska, from the history of denim to the dangerous games of childhood, This Wide Terraqueous World leads readers down the winding paths of memory as Hunt examines his subjects in razor-sharp prose both eerily spare and richly evocative.

#26. My Dear Comrades

by Sunu P. Chandy

Releases March 2023

Publisher: Regal House Publishing

Genre: Poetry / Family /Women

About the Book:

In this poetry collection, Sunu P. Chandy includes stories about her experiences as a woman, civil rights attorney, parent, partner, daughter of South Asian immigrants, and member of the LGBTQ community. These poems cover themes ranging from immigration, social justice activism, friendship loss, fertility challenges, adoption, caregiving, and life during a pandemic. Sunu’s poems provide some resolve, some peace, some community, amidst the competing notions of how we are expected to be in the world, especially when facing a range of barriers.

Sunu’s poems provide company for many who may be experiencing isolation through any one of these experiences and remind us that we are not, in fact, going it alone. Whether the experience is being disregarded as a woman of color attorney, being rejected for being queer, losing a most treasured friendship, doubting one’s romantic partner or any other form of heartbreak, Sunu’s poems highlight the human requirement of continually starting anew. These poems remind us that we can, and we will, rebuild. They remind us that whether or not we know it, there are comrades who are on parallel roads too, and that as a collective, we are, undoubtedly, cheering each other on.

#27. Lupine

by Jenny Irish

Releases March 2023

Publisher: Black Lawrence Press

Genre: Poetry / Women

About the Book:

At the heart of all violence is fear: Lupine is a gathering of feminist prose poetry engaging themes of ecology, animality, and the human unknown. A series of interconnected dramatic monologues, the poems inhabit the personae of figures traditionally deemed Monstrous, giving them voice to confront and reclaim the violent mythologies that have so often been imposed upon them. As these unmuzzled monsters speak, the collection collapses the boundaries between the self and the subjugated other, ultimately upending the discourse of monstrosity itself. By exposing how women are villainized and sacrificed in response to cultural fear, Lupine offers a corrective to social narratives in which notions of the bestial and notions of the feminine are intimately entwined.

#28. Soft Apocalypse

by Leah Nieboer

Releases March 2023

Publisher: University of Georgia Press

Genre: Poetry / Apocalypse

About the Book:

Soft Apocalypse pirouettes in the “anemic glow” of late capitalism, its lyrics performing in the civic pocket, in the offbeat, and by arrhythmias that offer improvisational measures for going and going on. Chrome angels, strange beloveds, and cool-eyed speakers cut speculative lines through precarious spaces of the present—deserts and nightscapes, neon-lit strips, corner stores, foreclosures, pharmacy queues, and “crumpled back alleys”—making imaginative economies, queer kinships, and alternative ways of being in the world. Nothing here is done with ease, but irreducible gifts do slip surreptitiously from palm to palm: after all, “we all need a little help sometimes / baby.” Anybody in these poems may use ordinary, embodied matters—“raw materials” and “dream residuals”—to shimmy out of dire, official measures and into “an unmarked rest,” an excess, or any “o vacancy!” where unofficial exchanges may be made.

Soft Apocalypse insistently edges these minor events and intimate apprehensions against the official orders, projections, violations, and isolations of our time. Instead of calculating toward a dystopic ending, this book bets on its softer wrecks, a futurity in an intimately rewired collective.

#29. Buffalo Girl

by Jessica Q. Stark

Releases April 2023

Publisher: BOA Editions, Ltd.

Genre: Poetry / Women

About the Book:

In these hybrid poems, Jessica Q. Stark explores her mother’s fraught immigration to the United States from Vietnam at the end of war through the lens of the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale.

Told through personal, national, and cultural histories, Buffalo Girl is a feminist indictment of the violence used to define and control women’s bodies. Interspersed throughout this hybrid work are a series of collaged photographs, featuring Stark’s mother’s black-and-white photography from Vietnam beautifully and hauntingly layered over various natural landscapes — lush tropical plants, dense forests, pockets of wildflowers. Several illustrations from old Red Riding Hood children’s books can also be found embedded into these pieces. Juxtaposing the moral implications of Little Red Riding Hood with her mother’s photography, Stark creates an image-text conversation that attends to the wolves lurking in the forests of our everyday lives. 

Opening the whispered frames around sexuality and sex work, immersed in the unflattering symptoms of survival, Buffalo Girl burgeons with matrilineal love and corporeal rage while censuring the white gaze and the violence enacted through the English language. Here is an inversion of diasporic victimhood. Here is an unwavering attention to the burdens suffered by the women of this world. Here is a reimagination, a reclamation, a way out of the woods.

#30. Into the Good World Again

by Max Garland

Releases March 2023

Publisher: Holy Cow! Press

Genre: Poetry / Pandemic

About the Book:

In these unsettling pandemic times, former Wisconsin Poet Laureate Max Garland offers poems of grace, resilience, and healing remembrance.

These are poems of remembering, not only the anguish and isolation of the global pandemic, during which most were written, but also remembering as a creative or restorative force. Max Garland’s poems walk on a wire of remnant faith that even in the news-glutted age of social media, there’s a role for poetry, “…news that Stays news,” as one poet put it nearly a century ago. There’s an evocative range: from the surrealistic conjurings of a child’s mind at bedtime, to the fragmented memory of an aging widow, struggling to recall the details of her life, or if not the details, at least the emotional truth of that life, realizing that for her, “Memory is more like poetry than poetry.”


Which books from indie presses and indie authors are you most excited about in 2023? Let us know in the comments!


About the Curator

Joe Walters IBR founder

Joe Walters is the founder and editor-in-chief of Independent Book Review and a book marketing specialist at Sunbury Press. When he’s not doing editorial, promoting, or reviewing work, he’s working on his novel and trusting the process. Follow him @joewalters13 on Twitter.


Thank you for reading “30 Indie Books to Look for in Early 2023” curated by Joe Walters! If you liked what you read, please spend some more time with us at the links below.

22 comments on “30 Indie Books to Look Out for in Early 2023

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  21. E.K. Larson-Burnett

    I hadn’t heard of many of these, but this is a phenomenal list!! Definitely adding many of these to my TBR (aka my Amazon cart). I’m excited about the release of my own book, The Bear & the Rose, coming in March!

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