By Caitlin Morgan
A lot of the indie presses we cover here at The Publishing Post are in some way subversive from the publishing norm, covering either feminist literature or underrepresented voices or authors from climates currently under conflict. As we say frequently, this is what makes them so exciting and why we follow their paths so closely here at the magazine – they’re carving the way for new and diverse literature to come to the fore, changing the UK literary scene one book at a time. One such press introducing diversity into the UK book market is Tilted Axis Press, an independent publisher specialising in Asian translated literature which has been “translated into a variety of Englishes.” This sentence alone signals the publisher’s desire to dismantle British imperialist hegemony in literature and to emphasise that there is more than one English, more than one right way to write and speak English.
Founded in 2015 by Deborah Smith, Korean-to-English translator who translated Han Kang’s The Vegetarian, Tilted Axis is keen to highlight literary talent from Asian writers and BIPOC translators and in doing so help to decolonise the literary space, which, whilst changing, does remain overwhelmingly white, according to Natalie Jerome. Their list of authors and translators is nothing if not exceptional and wildly talented. Among the authors are Itō Hiromi, renowned Japanese poet who tackles topics such as sexuality and female desire; Yu Miri, award-winning Japanese author; and Prabda Yoon, author and translator who “mov[es] between the cultures.” Translating the works at Tilted Axis Press include Nicholas Glastonbury, translating from Turkish to English; Morgan Giles, who translated Yu Miri’s Tokyo Ueno Station; and Jeffrey Angles, who translated Itō Hiromi’s Killing Kanoko/Wild Grass on the Riverbank. Tilted Axis are clearly not here to play – they have come to change the literary scene armed and ready. They are not doing things by halves, and it is clear that a literary revolution is underway, bubbling at the surface, ready to explode.
The talent at Tilted Axis is clearly bursting at the seams, and just a quick browse of the books the press has published so far makes us at The Publishing Post want to devour them all in one go. The aforementioned Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri, translated by Morgan Giles, is potentially one of the more well-known books from the press. Described as “creative genius” by the New York Times, Yu’s story follows the life of Kazu, whose life intertwines in strange coincidental ways to the Japanese imperial family and who, now dead, haunts Ueno Park, near the station of the same name. A novel of marginalisation – Yu herself being a Korean-Japanese person and experiencing marginalisation first-hand – Tokyo Ueno Station is just one example of the high-quality literature that Tilted Axis is producing from Asian writers, artistically translated by highly-skilled translators from across the globe, from Michigan to Bristol, Stockholm to Seoul. This is no small feat, and the international aspect of the press really shines through. This is certainly one publisher that does not hide away from the world, but rather embraces it and bathes in the joy of bringing a range of different cultures together.
The press simply oozes passion for translated literature and there is an undeniable thirst for the best of the best of what the world has to offer. Language is no barrier for Tilted Axis –in fact, a love of language in its many beautiful forms is what unites the authors, translators and readers at the press, and it is the result of this unification, along with the incredible talent of the authors and their translators, that allows us to read these fantastic pieces of literature.
It is fair to say that Tilted Axis is possibly one of the most enthralling independent publishers right now, thanks to their international profile and the broad range of literature that they cover. We at The Publishing Post can’t wait to see the new and intriguing literature published by the press in the future, literature that, in current socio-political climates, is needed now more than ever.