Kaya Press is a group of dedicated writers, artists, readers, and lovers of books working together to publish the most challenging, thoughtful, and provocative literature being produced throughout the Asian and Pacific Island diasporas. We believe that people’s lives can be changed by literature that pushes us past expectations and out of our comfort zone. We believe in the contagious potential of creativity combined with the means of production.
We believe that it’s impossible to generate power without first finding one’s center, and that our API diasporic focus is a starting point, not an ending point. We believe that beauty comes from thoughtful, hands-on attention to detail. We believe that great writing deserves to be beautifully presented, and that collaboration is at the heart of all important endeavors. We strive to bring to light works that have been unfairly overlooked or forgotten, whether because they were ahead of their times or because no one recognized their worth. We encourage everyone who encounters our work to participate in the publishing process, then go out and start their own creative contagion.
Founded in 1994, Kaya Press has established itself as the premier publisher of cutting-edge Asian and Pacific Islander diasporic writers in the United States. Our diverse list of titles includes experimental poetry, noir fiction, film memoir, avant-garde art, performance pieces, “lost” novels, and everything in between. Kaya and its authors have been the recipients of numerous awards, including the Gregory Kolovakas Prize for Outstanding New Literary Press, the American Book Award, the Association for Asian American Studies Book Award, the PEN Beyond Margins Open Book Prize, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop Award, and the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Prize. Our books have become cornerstone texts in American Studies and Asian American Studies curricula at major universities throughout the country.
Originally based in New York, Kaya Press is currently housed in the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California.
Kaya was the name of a tribal confederation of six Korean city-states that existed from the middle of the first until the sixth century CE. It is remembered as a utopia of learning, music, and the arts due to its trade and communication with China, Japan, and India.
Much as the word “kaya” can be found in many different languages, our publishing vision is to explore the multiple connections, chance or otherwise, between cultures. In Sanskrit, “kaya” means “body”; in Japanese, “kaya” often refers to a type of yew tree that withstands harsh conditions; in Tagalog , it means “to be able”; and in Turkish it means “rock.” In Zulu, “kaya” means “home.”
“When tigers used to smoke…” is a traditional Korean phrase used at the beginning of folk tales, similar to “Once upon a time.” Korean folk paintings often feature images of tigers smoking long, bamboo pipes, often accompanied by helpful rabbits. The Kaya logo replaces the Asian-style pipe with a stogie or cigar to show the meeting of traditional and contemporary sensibilities.
“The most consistent intelligent wide-ranging committed press I know – Kaya is an example of how to turn ‘small’ books into literary arrows that shoot straight and true into the heart of our culture and (of course) ourselves.”
— Junot Díaz
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