Press Notes: Dystopian Fiction a Highlight of Ohio University Press’s Fall Books

January 15, 2013

During the fall semester, Ohio University Press’s trade imprint, Swallow Press, published a unique dystopian novel by a best-selling author from Dayton. The book, Sharp and Dangerous Virtues: A Novel, was written by Martha Moody, whose previous books include the novels Best Friends and Sometimes Mine. Sharp and Dangerous Virtues represents a departure from Moody’s past work, which is part of the reason why Swallow Press took it on. Moody described her most recent book as being larger in scope and more focused on ideas than what she has written before.

The story takes place in Ohio during the year 2047, a time of financial and environmental crises. Responding to food shortages, the government has created a massive agricultural zone across several Midwestern states, and forcibly removed residents from all cities and towns within the zone, known as the Grid. The relatively successful experiment becomes the envy of other countries, some of which have formed an Alliance. The Alliance forces invade the U. S. through Canada and occupy Cleveland, where they hope to be positioned for a takeover of the Grid. Moody’s story follows these events through the lives of several characters and weaves into this futuristic tale a good bit of Ohio history. Predictably, many Ohio media reviewed the book and interviewed Moody, while some national coverage was generated in places like Booklist and Shelf Awareness, an online magazine covering the publishing industry.

— Jeff Kallet

Cover of 'Sharp and Dangerous Virtues'

Ohio University Press is the largest university press in Ohio, publishing 40–50 books annually on a variety of topics. These books carry the Ohio University name into the world, receiving national and international attention from leading scholarly journals, prominent review media, and prestigious award competitions.

Since August, Ohio University Press books and authors have appeared in the following media:

The Wall Street Journal (“deserves a place next to the works of such masters as Charles McCurry and Robert Stone”), The Washington Post, The Australian (“John Kinsella can see into the heart of the country, and the evidence of these taut, complex stories is that what he sees there is both ferocious and unresolved.”), Voice of America (“Daybreak Asia”), PBS NewsHour–“Art Beat,” Ohio Magazine, Booklist (“a suspenseful what-if readers will continue to ponder long after they’ve put it down.”), The Plain Dealer (“Rarely has the Great Depression’s effects on ordinary folks been so vividly, meticulously chronicled.”), The Columbus Dispatch (“fascinating”), Afropop Worldwide, Dayton Daily News, Journal of Africa (“an exceptionally erudite work … absolutely unique”), Audubon Magazine, Metapsychology, National Catholic Reporter, Choice (“Highly recommended.”), Journal of American History, Victorian Studies, WBEZ-“Worldview,” Cincinnati Enquirer, WCPN-Cleveland NPR, Washington Independent Review of Books, Antelope Valley Press, Texas Observer, The Virginian-Pilot (“Ministers of Fire can be compared to a John le Carré classic”), Sarmatian Review (“a captivating and human portrait of the poet and his life.”), Akron Legal News, WVXU-NPR, Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies (“intellectual history of the first order.”), International Journal of Maritime History (“a depth and richness of narrative that could only be achieved through prolonged and personal enquiry.”), Journal of the History of Sexuality, The Journal of Southern History (“an analytical goldmine for scholars of civil rights and labor struggles in the twentieth-century United States”), Historia (“impressive in its mastering of sources”), Quiltmaker magazine, Bulletin of Latin American Research (“…a rare book in that it is theoretically important, and excellent for classroom use.”), Book News, Aurora Advocate, The Midwest Book Review (“highly recommended”), Quiltmaker Magazine, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (“Anyone looking for a summary of the Compromise and its impact on antebellum politics would be hard-pressed to do better than these two chapters from two of its best and most celebrated historians.”), The Journal of Modern African Studies, Rolla Daily News, H-CivWar, Wild Ones Journal (“This book belongs on the reference shelves of all plants people”), Northwest Ohio History (“Brown’s book is beautifully developed and meticulously researched.”), Concord Monitor, Lebanon Valley News, The Canton Repository, Ohioana Quarterly, Journal of African History (“highly accessible and well composed”), WVXU—“Around Cincinnati,” Aseasuk News, Metascience, Environmental Values (“rich in case studies and stocked with helpful data”), H-SAfrica (“a major contribution to the study of global Garveyism…. It is also a significant piece of African diaspora and Atlantic world scholarship.…), Mansfield News Journal, Chicago Tribune, African Historical Review (“a most informative and enjoyable read which is highly recommended”), Print Quarterly, African Studies Quarterly,, Gateway: The Magazine of the Missouri History Museum, The National Gardener, The Sherlock Holmes Journal.

Prizes and Accolades

Degrees of Allegiance: Harassment and Loyalty in Missouri’s German-American Community during World War I, by Petra DeWitt, was selected to receive the State Historical Society of Missouri’s “Missouri History Book Award” for 2012. The award is given annually to the author of the best book written on the history of Missouri and Missourians. This award carries a cash prize of $1,500 and a citation. The award was given at the Society’s annual meeting on November 3, 2012.

Ministers of Fire, the spy thriller published by Swallow Press in May, was included in The Wall Street Journal’s top ten mysteries of 2012; it was also included in The Washington Post’s top 50 books of fiction from 2012.

Photojournalist Jim Lo Scalzo attended the prestigious Visa pour l’image in Perpignan, France, on September 7th. Lo Scalzo’s memoir, Evidence of My Existence, was published a few years ago and he was signing copies at the event.

Recently published titles from Ohio University Press:

Paper Sons and Daughters: Growing up Chinese in South Africa, by Ufrieda Ho. This compelling memoir reveals what it was like to live under the apartheid era from the vantage point of a second generation Chinese, an ethnic group that was relegated to a kind of gray zone between the sharp divide of white and black.

The Untried Life: The 29th Ohio Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War, by James T. Fritsch. Acclaimed Civil War historian D. Scott Hartwig wrote, “James Fritsch has written more than simply a regimental history of the 29th Ohio Infantry. Through his skill as a writer and researcher he breathes life into these young men from Ohio and we feel their hopes and joys, fear and suffering, through four years of war as if we were one of them. This is history at its best.”

The Complete Works of Robert Browning with Variant Readings and Annotations, Volume XVII, edited by Ashby Bland Crowder and Allan C. Dooley. The seventeenth volume of this esteemed series marks the end of this decades-long publishing project.

Dog Eat Dog: A Novel, by Niq Mhlongo. This debut novel by Mhlongo—whom The New York Times called “one of the most high-spirited and irreverent new voices of South Africa’s postapartheid literary scene”—is being distributed worldwide by Ohio University Press.

Sharp and Dangerous Virtues: A Novel, by Martha Moody. Dystopian fiction set in the year 2047 from best-selling author Martha Moody. After decades of wars, economic and environmental strife, and food and water shortages, a weakened U.S. is attacked through Canada by foreign forces. Their target: the Grid, a federal agricultural zone that has managed to produce food for U.S. citizens. A cast of characters cope with the ramifications, but meanwhile, within the Grid, another danger is emerging….

Prosperity Far Distant: The Journal of an American Farmer, 1933-1934, by Charles M. Wiltse, edited by Michael J. Birkner. “Rarely has the Great Depression’s effects on ordinary folks been so vividly, meticulously chronicled.“—The Plain Dealer

Steve Biko, by Lindy Wilson. A short biography of the inspirational anti-apartheid leader is part of a new series, Ohio Short Histories of Africa.

Spear of the Nation: South Africa’s Liberation Army, 1960s-1980s, by Janet Cherry. When in 1961 the apartheid government of South Africa banned the African National Congress, members of the ANC made a controversial decision to support an armed wing of the party. This people’s army was known as Umkhonto weSizwe, Spear of the Nation, and in this Ohio Short History of Africa Janet Cherry details its existence.

South Africa’s Struggle for Human Rights, by Saul Dubow. Saul Dubow’s analysis of the period since 1994’s transition to democracy shows that less than a generation after the end of apartheid, the status of human rights and constitutionalism in South Africa is uncertain.

Between the Brown and the Red: Nationalism, Catholicism, and Communism in Twentieth-Century Poland, by Mikołaj Stanisław Kunicki. Kunicki’s study shows how Poland’s communist rulers tried to adapt communism to local traditions, particularly ethnocentric nationalism and Catholicism, and focuses on the political career of Bolesław Piasecki, a Polish nationalist politician.

Face to Face: The Photography of Lloyd E. Moore, by Lloyd E. Moore, edited by Rajko Grlic. Moore was a lawyer from Lawrence County in Southern Ohio. His arresting portraits of people in this Appalachian community was first produced as a book in 2004. Ohio University Press acquired distribution rights in 2012.

Justice and Legal Change on the Shores of Lake Erie: A History of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, edited by Paul Finkelman and Roberta Sue Alexander. Thirteen essays by a variety of contributors examine the history of a single federal court through a selection of cases whose breadth illustrates the nature of the court and the wide-ranging work it does.

  • Cover of ‘Paper Sons and Daughters’

  • Cover of ‘The Untried Life’

  • Cover of ‘The Complete Works of Robert Browning, Vol. XVII’

  • Cover of ‘Dog Eat Dog’

  • Cover of ‘Sharp and Dangerous Virtues’

  • Cover of ‘Prosperity Far Distant’

  • Cover of ‘Steve Biko’

  • Cover of ‘Spear of the Nation: Umkhonto weSizwe’

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  • Cover of ‘Between the Brown and the Red’

  • Cover of ‘Face to Face’

  • Cover of ‘Justice and Legal Change on the Shores of Lake Erie’