Even though traditional publishing houses continue to rule Indian publication industry, the recent years have seen a significant rise in independent presses in India. These are presses that generally focus on specific themes, like Dalit literature, feminism, or translations, thus carving out a niche space in the publishing industry for themselves. These presses have done the incredible work of bringing forth narratives from all across the country, thereby helping enrich the Indian literary landscape even further.



Founded by Urvashi Butalia, Zubaan is an independent feminist publishing house in India. They often publish books from South Asia, both translated and written in English. One of their most prominent works is The Many That I Am. The book introduces us to Naga culture, which doesn’t have a history of written literature. Bringing together stories, poems and first-person narratives, the author takes us on a journey of women who want to reclaim their past, and the many paradoxes that Naga women faced and continue to face today. Other hard-hitting books by Zubaan include Love, Loss, And Longing In Kashmir, a compelling read about Kashmir, and Crafting The Word, which showcases women’s writing from Manipur.

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Seagull Books

Located in Kolkata, this publishing house translates books from around the world into English. They pride themselves on publishing everything from literary fiction and poetry to philosophy and even cultural anthropology. Their most popular books are by author Mahasweta Devi, whose writing is as extraordinary as her life was. For example, in Devi’s Breast Stories, the author talks about breasts as being a symbol of resistance against a society that wants to narrow them down to symbols of motherhood. It contains the stories of women who have been repeatedly abused and sexualised and turned into victims of a terrible patriarchy. Other remarkable books by Seagull include Naruban Bhattacharya’s Herbert and Vimala Devi’s Monsoon.

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Yoda Press

With an aim to publish books on subjects that are not a priority for other publishers, Yoda Press has made its name in the publishing industry by covering topics like sexuality, popular culture and cities. One of their most popular prints is the graphic anthology This Side, That Side. A unique collaboration between authors, artists, illustrators and storytellers from South Asia, this book aims to lend a voice to narratives on the impact of Partition, and how they have often been shaped by religion, speculation and politics. Other spectacular books include Why Read, a humorous attempt that reflects on reading while attempting to convince non-readers to try it out, and Kalpakam, a translation from Tamil that tells the tales of the opportunities and disappointments in the everyday lives of upper-caste women in Madras in1958.

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Strongly influenced by Babasaheb Ambedkar’s ideals, S. Anand set up Navayana, an anti-caste Indian publishing house. Navayana is popularly known for dealing with caste issues from an anti-caste perspective. One of its most stunning creations is Bhimayana, a graphic novel that documents the life of Ambedkar, a pioneering leader who campaigned against social discrimination and is also known as the architect of the Indian constitution. Using the experiences of caste discrimination Ambedkar himself went through, this graphic novel tries to explore the evils of untouchability that India still faces. Using the Pardhan Gond art of patterns and natural imagery, the artists have gone above and beyond in trying to create a graphic novel that pays proper homage to one of India’s most prominent leaders. Other books published include Beef, Brahmins And Broken Men, a scathing work by Ambedkar, and a collection of Malayalam stories by Dalit writers called Don’t Want Caste.  

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Women Unlimited

Women Unlimited is a feminist press that publishes books that go beyond the boundaries of traditional and commercial literature. One such book is Ismat Chughtai’s My Friend, My Enemy which contains autobiographical essays, literary criticism and personality sketches of authors like Sadat Hasan Manto. The book talks about Chughtai’s infamous obscenity trial and the experiences of her journey from India to Pakistan after the harrowing Partition. Other equally interesting books include No Woman’s Land , where women from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh talk about their experience of Partition and what it meant for them, and Single By Choice, a collection of confessions by women who treaded a different path, that of an unmarried life.

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Niyogi Books

Popular for their illustrated books, Niyogi Books has also caught everyone’s attention by carving a space in publishing for their translations. Their books have been shortlisted for awards like the Bangalore Literature Festival Book Prize and the Man Asian Literary Prize, which only encourages them to bring out the best in literature. One of their prints is The Tree With A Thousand Apples, a story based on real-life incidents in Kashmir. Three friends grow up in a peaceful Kashmir, until one night, everything changes. Their paradise of a home turns into a bloody battlefield overnight when the friends are forced to choose sides. 20 years later, when circumstances force them to come together, they are faced with another choice. What will they choose – the good or the bad? Other equally awe-inspiring books include Rakhshanda Jalil’s Jallianwala Bagh, an exploration of the notorious incident, featuring prose and poetry from authors like Mulk Raj Anand, Sadat Hasan Manto, and Bhisham Sahni, and Beasts Of Burden, a Tamil translation of Koveru Kazhuthaigal, by famous author Imayam.

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Blaft Publications

With an interest in translations of pulp and popular fiction from Asian and African languages, Blaft Publications was set up to publish books in genres that are not published by traditional publishing houses. One of their most stunning creations is The Blaft Anthology Of Tamil Pulp Fiction, featuring stories of mystery, romance and science fiction that used to be published in Tamil pulp magazines. With their striking ‘pulp fiction’ style of illustrations and dialogues, this book is a must-have. Some of their other published books include Things We Found During The Autopsy, a collection of short stories of apocalyptic intuition and the supernatural, and Insects Are Just Like You And Me Except Some Of Them Have Wings, a must-read funny novel.

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Bee Books

Bee Books mainly focusses on translations of regional language books into English. Their booklist includes some of the most amazing books literature has to offer. The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die is one of their popular books, which tells the tale of a newlywed and her eccentric family. The book is a heartfelt tale focussing on women, who are different from each other, but fit perfectly into their boisterous family. Other books to look out for include Moom, an engaging thriller, and Colours Of Kanchenjunga, a collection of short stories from Nepal.

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Panther’s Paw Publications

Inspired by Babasaheb Ambedkar and his ideals, author and poet Yogesh Maitreya set up Panther’s Paw to publish books by Dalit authors. Days Will Come Back is a collection of Dalit-Punjabi poetry in English. These are poems of the unheard, of the people who have always been sidelined in society. Other books include Broken Man, another Marathi poetry collection that has been translated into English, and Maitreya’s own Flowers On The Grave Of Caste, a collection of short stories.

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Wisdom Tree

Initially starting out as publishers of books on yoga and spirituality, Wisdom Tree has made a name for itself in the independent publishing industry. Today, they publish a number of non-fiction and coffee-table books and have a wide array of well-known authors in their catalogue. Shashi Tharoor is one of the authors there. His book, India: The Future Is Now, is an excellent take on the issues plaguing India, and how the newest generation can scope out a brighter future for the country. With perspectives from young parliamentarians about science, ideologies and politics, this is a book that everyone should get their hands on. Another famous author is Ashok Banker, whose Sons Of Sita was also published by Wisdom Tree.  

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adivaani is the brainchild of Ruby Hembrom, and it serves to publish books by Adivasi authors. One of their books is A Girl Swallowed By A Tree, where author Nzanmongi Jasmine Patton has translated 30 stories from the Lotha tribe into English, while retaining certain Lotha words in order to preserve their originality. The collection includes ‘Ranphan, The Brave’, the story of a man who fights the tiger that killed his wife, as well as ‘Longtsarhoni And The Snake Man’, where a shape-shifting male snake forces a human female to marry him. These stories open a window into a culture we know very little of. Other books include Becoming Me, the story of a young girl who struggles to survive in a riot-ridden Assam and Earth Rests On A Tortoise, an illustrated book portraying the creation of life on Earth.

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