Tyrant Books

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Tyrant Books
Tyrant Books logo.png
Founded 2009
Founder Giancarlo DiTrapano
Headquarters location New York City, Rome
Publication types Books, magazines
Official website nytyrant.com

Tyrant Books is an independent book publisher based in Rome, Italy and New York, New York. It was created in 2009 by Giancarlo DiTrapano as an offshoot of the acclaimed NY Tyrant Magazine, also founded by DiTrapano, in 2006.


Tyrant Books was created to publish books worthy of acclaim but less suited to large publishing houses, often because they are incendiary or avant garde. Giancarlo DiTrapano is quoted in the Los Angeles Review of Books as saying, “It would have taken forever for me to do anything I wanted to do [working for a traditional publishing house], but I had a little money, so I started a press.” In 2006 he founded New York Tyrant Magazine, which published “writers the big houses refused to touch,” including Brian Evenson, Noy Holland, Michael Kimball, Gary Lutz, Rachel B. Glaser, Scott McClanahan, Sam Lipsyte, Padgett Powell, Breece D’J Pancake and Gordon Lish and more. The magazine had immediate success and generated a following for the Tyrant brand, which benefitted Tyrant Books when it formed. The magazine was put on hiatus until December 2016, when it was brought back as an online journal, with Jordan Castro as the editor.[1] [2] [3] In recent years, New York Tyrant Magazine has published a diverse roster of writers, including Clancy Martin, John Haskell, Gordon Lish, Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, Blake Butler, Lydia Davis, Tao Lin, Noah Cicero, Ariana Reines, and Sheila Heti.

In 2009, 500 copies of the novella “Baby Leg” by Brian Evenson were published, marking the beginning of the transition to book publishing for Tyrant. It was followed by Eugene Marten’s “Firework” (2010), which is scheduled for re-release in 2017, and Michael Kimball’s “Us” (2011).[4]

In 2013 Tyrant Books partnered with Fat Possum Records. The publisher’s most successful book to date is “Preparation for the Next Life” by Atticus Lish, winner of the 2015 PEN/Faulkner Prize for fiction, which had sold 15,000 copies as of January 2015. The publications are distributed through Consortium Book Sales and Distribution.[5]

Merger with Fat Possum Records[edit]

In 2013 DiTrapano met Matthew Johnson, owner of Fat Possum Records, while interviewing him for Playboy. The profile of Johnson, who was recording the last of the Mississippi Hill Country musicians, did not happen, but Johnson and DiTrapano became friends. Johnson developed an interest in saving the publishing house, which was struggling financially. Johnson became 50% owner and took over the business aspects of Tyrant Books while DiTrapano was freed to exclusively find and develop manuscripts. DiTrapano quotes Johnson in the Wall Street Journal as saying, “You’re a great editor but a terrible businessman”, and he responded, “I know”.[5]

Preparation for the Next Life[edit]

The first book to be published after the merger was the wildly successful “Preparation for the Next Life” by Atticus Lish (2014). Lish is the son of Gordon Lish, well known author and editor. A book of drawings by Lish (“Life is with People”) was published by Tyrant Books in 2011, and after the merger with Fat Possum DiTrapano asked Lish if he had any fiction. He emailed DiTrapano the manuscript, which took five years to write[6], and accepted a $2000 advance[7]. Initially only 3,500 paperback copies of “Preparation for the Next Life” were printed. When the success of the book became apparent, 10,000 more copies were ordered, and in the meantime were printed on demand from Amazon. As of January 2015, there were 33,500 copies in print[8]. The success of the book, which won the PEN/Faulkner Prize for Fiction in 2015, has contributed greatly to the reputation of Tyrant Books, allowing operations to continue and attracting serious submissions.[4]

Publications of Tyrant Books[edit]

  • “Baby Leg”, Brian Evenson (2009) - Fiction
  • “Firework”, Eugene Marten (2010, 2017 re-release) - Fiction/Literary
  • “Us”, Michael Kimball (2011) - Fiction/Psychological
  • “Life is With People”, Atticus Lish (2011) - Drawings
  • “Sky Saw”, Blake Butler (2012) - Fiction/Gothic
  • “Strange Cowboy, Lincoln Dahl Turns Five”, Sam Michel (2012) - Fiction/Literary
  • “Solip”, Ken Baumann (2013) - Fiction/Literary
  • “What Purpose Did I Serve In Your Life”, Marie Calloway (2013) - Fiction/Short Stories
  • “Hill William”, Scott McClanahan (2013) - Fiction/Cultural Heritage
  • “Preparation For The Next Life”, Atticus Lish (2014) - Fiction/Literary
  • “Bad Sex”, Clancy Martin (2015) - Fiction/Literary
  • “Supremacist”, David Shapiro (2016) - Fiction/Literary
  • “White Nights in Split Town City”, Annie DeWitt (2016) - Fiction/Literary
  • "literally show me a healthy person", Darcie Wilder (2017) - Fiction/Literary
  • “The Sarah Book”, Scott McClanahan (2017) - Fiction/Literary [9]


External references[edit]