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  • Writer's pictureThe Publishing Post

Spotlight on Publishers of Translated Fiction

By Jane Bentham and Rob Tomlinson

This issue, we’re highlighting publishers that boast an impressive, extensive and diverse portfolio of translated work. Each of the three publishers covered here are award-winning and we’re certain that you’ll find something to interest you!

Tilted Axis Press

Tilted Axis Press publishes primarily Asian and African works, and was founded in 2015 by Deborah Smith, a translator of Korean fiction including Han Kang’s The Vegetarian, which won the 2016 International Man Booker Prize.

When explaining why she set up her own press, Smith expressed her previous frustration with the reluctance of numerous publishing companies to release works from non-European languages. In its aim to give under-represented and under-translated voices a bigger platform, Tilted Axis attempts to deconstruct implicit biases and stereotypes that have made it difficult for non-European authors to be published in the Western world. Smith has declared her intention for the press to “publish less, publish better,” in order to focus on the artistic and cultural value of each work. Tilted Axis also strives to highlight the frequently under-appreciated work of translators and push for greater access into the publishing world. It advocates for better rates for translators and for paid internships to be introduced across the sector.

Our Recommendation:

Tokyo Ueno Station by Yu Miri, translated from Japanese by Morgan Giles. This book, first published in 2014 and translated in 2019, follows the life and death of Kazu, a homeless construction worker whose ghost now haunts Ueno Park in Japan’s capital. The author skilfully reflects on Japanese society and history in a non-linear manner, as the protagonist continually tries and fails to understand his own and country’s past.

Tokyo Ueno Station won the National Book Award for Translated Literature in 2020, and Tilted Axis Press have recently published another work by Yu Miri, The End of August.

Peirene Press

Peirene Press is an award-winning publisher of works from all over the world, spanning 25 different countries and twenty different languages. It was founded in 2008 by German novelist and publisher Meike Ziervogel, who wanted to introduce European novellas to English-speaking readers. With film subscription services increasing in popularity at the time, Ziervogel successfully cultivated interest in these works through creating a subscription for “books under 200 pages that can be read in the time it takes to watch a film.” Peirene Press has now expanded its scope to include writing from countries outside of Europe, and is publishing more books outside its novella series. It has also begun publishing audiobooks of their works, hoping that this new medium will bring translated fiction to an ever wider audience.

Peirene Press has been running the annual Peirene Stevns Translation Prize since 2019, open to emerging translators, and hosts various literary events, such as literary salons and informal coffee mornings.

Our Recommendation:

Soviet Milk by Nora Ikstena, translated from Latvian by Margita Gailitis. A bestseller in the Baltic states, this book was published by Peirene in 2018. Set in Latvia between the end of World War II and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the novel alternates between the perspectives of a mother and daughter who struggle to find their place in a society under Soviet rule. This inter-generational story follows not only the consequences of widespread social oppression but also the unbreakable ties to one’s family and native land.

Fitzcarraldo Editions

Despite only being founded in 2014, Fitzcarraldo Editions’ distinctive design and stellar catalogue has quickly made them an exciting player in independent British publishing. Each book cover is encased in a striking textured, monochrome French-flap void of information beyond the title of the work and the name of the author; fiction in a deep blue and essays in a stark white.

While Fitzcarraldo does not focus exclusively on translation, they have published many English-language translations of internationally renowned writers, counting three Nobel Prize winners in their translated portfolio. The press specialises in literary fiction and thought-provoking long-form essays and, as they publish only twelve books a year, their name remains a signifier of quality writing.

Our Recommendations:

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, Olga Tokarczuk, translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. Nobel prize winner Tokarczuk’s mystery novel, first published in 2009, and available in English in 2019, is a fascinating story that knits together discussions of literature, rural life, friendship and the environment.

King Kong Theory, Virginie Despentes, translated from French by Frank Wynne. A seminal work of contemporary feminism, Despentes presents us with a highly personal account of her life and thoughts, embodying a challenging, radical approach to questions of gender, sexual violence and capital.



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