Black Balloon Press Relaunches Publishing Program

For Immediate Release: 10/12/2016
Contact: Casey Gonzalez, [email protected]

Black Balloon Press, the critically acclaimed press known for its genre-breaking and experimental literary projects, is relaunching its publishing program with Amy Kurzweil’s graphic memoir, Flying Couch , publishing this week. Kurzweil’s debut is Black Balloon’s first title since becoming an imprint of Catapult in 2015. As always, Black Balloon will publish projects that combine traditional publishing and digital media. Co-founder Leigh Newman will continue to lead Black Balloon as Editor in Chief with the support of Associate Editor Casey Gonzalez. Newman and Elizabeth Koch founded Black Balloon in 2008, and Koch will continue to serve as Editor at Large.   

“Everything was so organic,” Newman said of Black Balloon’s inception. “We were learning how to publish as we went along—staying up late into the night, dumping ideas into a Google doc, and just scribbling and calling everyone we knew who might want to participate.”

Black Balloon quickly went from a passion-fueled pet project to a critically acclaimed press, with books receiving accolades from The New York Times and The New Yorker , among other outlets. The press made its name with books that transcended categorization, sometimes incorporating music, photography, and interactive digital experiences. In 2015, Koch partnered with Andy Hunter, co-founder of Electric Literature and Literary Hub, to create Catapult, a new literary publishing house. Black Balloon was made an imprint of the new venture.

“Black Balloon has always published exciting books that pushed boundaries without sacrificing quality,” said Hunter. “We want to continue that spirit of experimentation at Catapult, and the Black Balloon imprint is the perfect vehicle.”

“We want to find more polished and innovative ways to use new media—not to simply slap an app on a book, but to create new projects where the parts are integral, intuitive, and seamless,” said Newman. “We’re working, we’re experimenting. The uniting thread will be exacting, composed prose, the sort of writing that packs an emotional wallop. We’re not interested in experimenting for the sake of gimmicks, novelty for the sake of glibness. Meaning is as crucial to us as invention.”

The latest project, Amy Kurzweil’s Flying Couch: A Graphic Memoir , tells the stories of three generations of Jewish women: Amy’s own coming-of-age as a young artist, her mother’s struggles as a caregiver for an aging parent, and Bubbe, her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor who escaped from the Warsaw Ghetto by disguising herself as a gentile. Flying Couch is a Junior Library Guild Fall 2016 selection and has received a starred review from Kirkus .   

Kurzweil’s debut will be followed in Fall 2017 by Deb Olin Unferth and Elizabeth Haidle’s I, Parrot , a graphic novel about a single mother’s efforts to regain custody of her son while caring for a flock of endangered parrots. Black Balloon books are distributed to the trade by Publishers Group West.

About Black Balloon

Black Balloon’s titles push the boundaries of what a book can be—from graphic novels to experimental writing to limited edition art books to digital projects and beyond. Black Balloon is a critically acclaimed imprint of Catapult, an independent publishing company headquartered in New York, NY. Our books have been featured in The New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, O: The Oprah Magazine, Esquire, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe,, New York Magazine, The Atlantic, Time, Bon Appetit, and on NPR’s All Things Considered, among many other outlets.

About Catapult

Catapult is an innovative publishing venture founded by Elizabeth Koch and Andy Hunter that publishes books of the highest literary caliber, offers classes taught by acclaimed emerging and established writers, produces an award-winning daily online magazine of narrative nonfiction and fiction, and hosts an open online platform where writers can showcase their own writing. Catapult is led editorially by Pat Strachan, who has edited writers such as Marilynne Robinson, Tom Wolfe, Seamus Heaney, John McPhee, Edna O’Brien, Lydia Davis, Padgett Powell, Grace Paley, and Jamaica Kincaid. Catapult’s books have been praised in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, NPR, and other media. Catapult’s second title, Mrs. Engels by Gavin McCrea, was named one of the 20 best books of 2015 by Amazon. The essays and stories published in Catapult’s online magazine, edited by Yuka Igarashi, have been selected by Jonathan Franzen for Best American Essays, shortlisted for The Caine Prize for African Writing, and featured on “Best of” lists at Longreads, Longform, Buzzfeed, The Los Angeles Times, and numerous other publications.