IN 2022, AN insane year for planet Earth, Brick House brought fans of ethical publishing and press freedom a ton of remarkable and satisfying accomplishments. A generous gift from the Kahle/Austin Foundation enabled us to pursue our work on library rights and digital ownership. We’re helping several publishers prepare permanent ebooks to sell to libraries through our new BRIET system. We are especially proud to have helped The Edible Schoolyard Project prepare permanent library copies of their free lesson plans and educational materials to distribute freely through the world’s libraries. The Edible Schoolyard is a nonprofit that explores the concepts and meanings of organic agriculture, founded by chef, author, and activist Alice Waters. Any library will be able to catalog and distribute these invaluable (and free!) resources to their patrons around the world.
With the help of our benefactors at Grant for the Web, we helped OlongoAfrica fund its new imprint and its debut title, An African Abroad, published this November. You can now buy this Nigerian travel classic direct at the new Shopula, along with many other great books, posters and other swag. (And yes, An African Abroad will be available to borrow at libraries as a permanent ebook!)
Finally, with pride and pleasure, we published hundreds of brilliant stories, podcasts, articles, art and essays from artists and writers all over the world.
Here’s just a few of our editors’ favorites this year:
Myriam Gurba, Tasteful Rude – I love food writing and am very proud of all the food writing published by Tasteful Rude. One piece that I’d really like to lavish extra praise on is Isabel Quintero’s “Of Tacos y Heartbreak.” From the gate, it had me, “The tacos I eat here in the U.S. are not the tacos my family eats in Mexico. They come close but there’s something missing. Maybe it’s the salt.” Quintero takes her readers on an international taco tour, zigzagging through southern California and hurdling across the absurd Mexico-United States border, where she finally learns the meaning of flavor, heartbreak, and satiety.
Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún, OlongoAfrica – Let me recommend “Maybe Now, Maybe Never,” a short story by Ukamaka Olisakwe, which explores a fraught relationship between two sisters. It’s a tender story that is both relatable and heartbreaking.
Maria Bustillos, Popula – “Building the Ironworkers” is Michael Thériault’s spectacular account of a life lived as a labor organizer. Gorgeous writing in the service of an undeceived perspective on the real work of serving working people. I also loved Laura June’s Me Today entry, it is about Pearl Jam, covid and parenthood.
How much too much can we say about Populacast, the dazzling pop of a podcast from editor Tom Scocca?? The daily Populacast gives you and me the chance to face the news in the company of a sensible friend, so we won’t just fall off the edge.
Brian Hioe, No Man Is An Island – Taiwan’s White Terror has historically been remembered in terms of male political prisoners and dissidents. But Untold Herstory, based on true events and oral histories, and directed by lesbian filmmaker Zero Chou, has aimed to change that, with its focus on female prisoners on the internment camp of Green Island. Jennifer Ruth took a look at the movie for No Man is an Island.
Alex Lynn, FAQ NYC – Daily News legend Susan Watts and THE CITY’s Ben Fractenberg talk with Alex Brook Lynn about the art of shooting the news in New York, and share the stories behind some of their most powerful photos. Tune in to hear all about wild dogs on the highway, window washers overlooking Ground Zero, a remarkable “photograph of perseverance” and much more.
David Moore, Sludge – In South Texas, this year saw a primary rematch between conservative Henry Cuellar, known as “Big Oil’s Favorite Democrat,” and progressive challenger Jessica Cisneros. Donald Shaw of Sludge found a stash of cash backing Cuellar’s campaign, buried in tax documents: $3.5 million given from the top oil industry lobbying group, the American Petroleum Institute, to a vaporous pop-up group running ads on Cuellar’s behalf. Cuellar won the primary by only 289 votes.
Tom Scocca, Popula – As the collective discourse got worse and worse, with everyone’s accustomed discourse-engine smoldering and grinding under its new ownership, it was a delight to see writers dig into subjects simply because they, personally, wanted to think and write about those things. Thus we had the good fortune to publish Kate Wagner turning her extremely idiosyncratic childhood fixation on weather disasters into a wide-ranging meditation on fear, mastery, community, and the archaeology of internet culture, and Matthew Dessem looking into the nature of legal exceptions and loopholes by excavating a 19th century bid for trial by combat.
HELP US AND RING IN THE NEW YEAR! – Brick House’s 2023 Bodega Calendars are here, and they are gorgeous! Contribute the admittedly whopping sum of $75 (we really need money) to the Brick House, money that directly funds our operations and pays our writers, editors and artists, and receive your amazing Calendar as a token of our gratitude. This year’s calendar art is by Popula creative director Joe MacLeod!! Learn what day it is in a riotously flowering state of happiness. It has Birthstones of the Month and stuff on there!!!
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