Read To Win

Six brilliant women writers from around the world who aren’t published by big name presses

Like these writers, these independent publishers, too, push the envelope on experimentation.

We come close to literature at nights, and early mornings, when we’re occupying that world between realities, the space between the perceptible and the imperceptible: yes, storytelling is important but often our lives do not tell a story, they exist as these strange, fragmented wholes and that’s just the way it is. And often the most haunting works of art are the ones that acknowledge this broken narrative.

Mainstream publishers (and mainstream critics, and mainstream audiences), it is no news, don’t encourage or even make space for experimental writing, especially when its writer is not a privileged male. And yet, inventiveness continues to grow and genres keep getting bent.

Literature has a lot to owe to independent presses, who sometimes ignore the economics of the market to bring out books that need to come out because they need to be read. There is a lot of good writing and many small independent presses that remain to be discovered (by me, by you, by someone) but here’s a personal list of brilliant international women writers – published by independent presses – that you probably should be reading.

Marianne Fritz

Fritz is an Austrian novelist, whose book The Weight of Things was recently translated into English by Adrian Nathan West and published in 2015 by Dorothy, A Publishing Project. On Dorothy’s website, it is mentioned that it is possibly her only translatable book, “for after winning acclaim with this novel – awarded the Robert Walser Prize in 1978 – she embarked on a 10,000-page literary project called “The Fortress,” creating over her lifetime elaborate colorful diagrams and typescripts so complicated that her publisher had to print them straight from her original documents.” Her recent “discovery” has sparked a much-needed debate on why her work has remained largely ignored and if genius is read as essentially masculine.

Anne Boyer

Her genre-bending book Garments Against Women, published by Ahsahta Press, is about surviving capitalist America as an artist and single mother. In her review for the New York Times, Maureen McLane writes, “Boyer offers a self-portrait of the artist in a time of ‘indentured moods,’ debt collection, chemical spills, amid her attempts at and refusals of writing, sewing and the daily care of herself and her small daughter. Does one have to be a ‘property owner’ to make ‘literature’? Write memoirs? Poetry? These are perverse questions, perhaps, but they are Boyer’s, and should be ours.”

Sofia Samatar

Samatar published her debut novel A Stranger in Olondria with Small Beer Press in 2013. A work of fantasy – winning the William L. Crawford Award, the British Fantasy Award, and the World Fantasy Award – it occupies this strange space between reality and unreality, between the oral and written traditions. Sometimes called a Proustian ghost story, Kelly Link writes, “Sofia Samatar’s debut novel is both exhilarating epic adventure and loving invocation of what it means to live through story, poetry, language. She writes like the heir of Ursula K. Le Guin and Gene Wolfe.” The sequel to this beautiful and haunting book, The Winged Histories, will be published by Small Beer Press in March 2016.

Joanna Walsh

A British writer and illustrator, the fiction editor of the alternative 3:AM Magazine, and creator of the groundbreaking Twitter hashtag #readwomen, Walsh published her second collection of linked short stories Vertigo with Dorothy, A Publishing Project (her debut collection, Fractals, was published by Galley Beggar Press). Her poetic and circuitous, sometimes wry writing style is haunting and beautiful in the most unusual way. The Kirkus Review observes, and rightly so, that Vertigo is “less a collection of linked short stories – though it is that, too – than a cinematic montage, a collection of photographs, or a series of sketches, Walsh’s book would be dreamlike if it weren’t so deliciously sharp… This is Walsh at her best, towing the line between an equation and a poem.”

Bhanu Kapil

A British-Indian writer currently in the US, Kapil is known for her uncategorisable work, which resides between poetry, fiction, and history. Her recent work Ban en Banlieue, published by Nightboat Books, follows Ban – a fictional girl and a protagonist from a novel Kapil started but never finished – as she walks home from school through London suburbs (“benlieue” is the French word for suburbs) at the beginnings of a riot.

Broken into sections, this stunning work reveals the deep impact of cultural violence and whether such acts of violence have a single origin. Sueyeun Juliette Lee of the Constant Critic notes that “she [Bhanu Kapil] offers a variety of emotional, psychological, and spiritual loci around which her text coalesces. To cry out. To fail. To rise like diesel smoke in a hot summer wind… this book is a series of mirrors folded towards each other, and they all admit night.”

Magda Kapa

Kapa is a writer, artist, and teacher of Modern Greek and English in Northern Germany. She wrote a sort of poetic dictionary on Twitter through a single calendar year: descriptions, aphorisms, and comments on particular nouns. All The Words, composed entirely of a series of tweets, published by Phoenicia Publishing, offers an insight into the flux of language and its constantly changing and altering meanings. The poet and translator George Szirtes writes about the book, “A collection of jottings and registerings exploring the great continents of death, love, dream and time along with their archipelagos, islands and subsidiary states, Magda Kapa’s All the Words is, as its own definition of poetry suggests, ‘pure thought caught off guard.’”

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What hospitals can do to drive entrepreneurship and enhance patient experience

Hospitals can perform better by partnering with entrepreneurs and encouraging a culture of intrapreneurship focused on customer centricity.

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Getting the best from collaborations

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Meena Ganesh shares a similar view when she says that entrepreneurs offer an outsider’s fresh perspective on the existing gaps in healthcare. They are therefore better equipped to offer disruptive technology solutions that put the customer right at the center. Her own venture, Portea Medical, was born out of a need in the hitherto unaddressed area of patient experience – quality home care.

There are enough examples of hospitals that have gained significantly by partnering with or investing in such ventures. For example, the Children’s Medical Centre in Dallas actively invests in tech startups to offer better care to its patients. One such startup produces sensors smaller than a grain of sand, that can be embedded in pills to alert caregivers if a medication has been taken or not. Another app delivers care givers at customers’ door step for check-ups. Providence St Joseph’s Health, that has medical centres across the U.S., has invested in a range of startups that address different patient needs – from patient feedback and wearable monitoring devices to remote video interpretation and surgical blood loss monitoring. UNC Hospital in North Carolina uses a change management platform developed by a startup in order to improve patient experience at its Emergency and Dermatology departments. The platform essentially comes with a friendly and non-intrusive way to gather patient feedback.

When intrapreneurship can lead to patient centric innovation

Hospitals can also encourage a culture of intrapreneurship within the organization. According to Meena Ganesh, this would mean building a ‘listening organization’ because as she says, listening and being open to new ideas leads to innovation. Santosh Desai, MD& CEO - Future Brands Ltd, who was also part of the panel discussion, feels that most innovations are a result of looking at “large cultural shifts, outside the frame of narrow business”. So hospitals will need to encourage enterprising professionals in the organization to observe behavior trends as part of the ideation process. Also, as Dr Ram Narain, Executive Director, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, points out, they will need to tell the employees who have the potential to drive innovative initiatives, “Do not fail, but if you fail, we still back you.” Innovative companies such as Google actively follow this practice, allowing employees to pick projects they are passionate about and work on them to deliver fresh solutions.

Realizing the need to encourage new ideas among employees to enhance patient experience, many healthcare enterprises are instituting innovative strategies. Henry Ford System, for example, began a system of rewarding great employee ideas. One internal contest was around clinical applications for wearable technology. The incentive was particularly attractive – a cash prize of $ 10,000 to the winners. Not surprisingly, the employees came up with some very innovative ideas that included: a system to record mobility of acute care patients through wearable trackers, health reminder system for elderly patients and mobile game interface with activity trackers to encourage children towards exercising. The employees admitted later that the exercise was so interesting that they would have participated in it even without a cash prize incentive.

Another example is Penn Medicine in Philadelphia which launched an ‘innovation tournament’ across the organization as part of its efforts to improve patient care. Participants worked with professors from Wharton Business School to prepare for the ideas challenge. More than 1,750 ideas were submitted by 1,400 participants, out of which 10 were selected. The focus was on getting ideas around the front end and some of the submitted ideas included:

  • Check-out management: Exclusive waiting rooms with TV, Internet and other facilities for patients waiting to be discharged so as to reduce space congestion and make their waiting time more comfortable.
  • Space for emotional privacy: An exclusive and friendly space for individuals and families to mourn the loss of dear ones in private.
  • Online patient organizer: A web based app that helps first time patients prepare better for their appointment by providing check lists for documents, medicines, etc to be carried and giving information regarding the hospital navigation, the consulting doctor etc.
  • Help for non-English speakers: Iconography cards to help non-English speaking patients express themselves and seek help in case of emergencies or other situations.

As Arlen Meyers, MD, President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, says in a report, although many good ideas come from the front line, physicians must also be encouraged to think innovatively about patient experience. An academic study also builds a strong case to encourage intrapreneurship among nurses. Given they comprise a large part of the front-line staff for healthcare delivery, nurses should also be given the freedom to create and design innovative systems for improving patient experience.

According to a Harvard Business Review article quoted in a university study, employees who have the potential to be intrapreneurs, show some marked characteristics. These include a sense of ownership, perseverance, emotional intelligence and the ability to look at the big picture along with the desire, and ideas, to improve it. But trust and support of the management is essential to bringing out and taking the ideas forward.

Creating an environment conducive to innovation is the first step to bringing about innovation-driven outcomes. These were just some of the insights on healthcare management gleaned from the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott. In over 150 countries, Abbott, which is among the top 100 global innovator companies, is working with hospitals and healthcare professionals to improve the quality of health services.

To read more content on best practices for hospital leaders, visit Abbott’s Bringing Health to Life portal here.

This article was produced on behalf of Abbott by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.