First off, thank you to the Mexican government’s Ministry of Culture for awarding Deep Vellum a substantial grant to support the translation of Carmen Boullosa’s Texas and the first two books in Sergio Pitol’s “Trilogy of Memory”: The Art of Flight and The Journey. This is the biggest grant Deep Vellum has received yet, and validates Deep Vellum’s commitment to publishing and publicizing Mexican literature. So excited, and so honored.
Thinking of drizzly London as I write, looking out the window at a beautiful Dallas spring day, 70 and sunny with a cool breeze. But London Book Fair, I’m coming for you! My flight arrives Saturday morning around 10am, and if you are reading this and have a hookup for Chelsea FC tickets, hook it up!
If you are in London or are attending the London Book Fair and the events surrounding it next week, come say hi. I’ll be ghosting around the Translation Centre in Earls Court 2 all week, and you’ll have the chance to hear me speak on a couple panels with some of my favorite publishers (And Other Stories! Archipelago! Frisch & Co.! Pushkin Press!) and some of the world’s greatest translators (Rosalind Harvey! Daniel Hahn!). Information on the events below:
THE FUTURE, Monday 7 April, 3:30-5:00pm, The Society of Authors (84 Drayton Gardens, London SW10 9SB)
How the translation industry can make the most of an evolving publishing landscape.
Speakers: Will Evans (Deep Vellum Publishing), EJ Van Lanen (Frisch & Co), Rosalind Harvey (translator, TA Committee), Stefan Tobler (And Other Stories). Chaired by Daniel Hahn.
MEET THE PUBLISHERS, 08 Apr 2014, 10:00 – 11:00, Literary Translation Centre (Earls Court 2)
- Stephanie Seegmuller (Chairperson), Associate Publisher and COO, Pushkin Press
- Sophie Buchan, Publisher, Weidenfeld & Nicolson Fiction
- EJ Van Lanen, Founder and Publisher, Frisch & Co.
- Jill Schoolman, Founder and Publisher, Archipelago Books
- Will Evans, Founder and Publisher, Deep Vellum Publishing
Speaking of Archipelago Books and how amazing they are, Publishing Perspectives has posted a wonderful piece on Archipelago and Jill Schoolman, who founded the press 10 years ago, and who provides an inspiration to me in starting and running Deep Vellum. If you read my piece in the Brooklyn Quarterly, “I Want You to Start Your Own Publishing House,” the structure of this article on Archipelago provides another good primer on how think about the many facets of publishing and how to put all the pieces together:
To hear Schoolman explain what she’s trying to do with each title, is to understand from where all the energy needed to run an operation such as this comes. The search for “a singular voice,” Schoolman says with eyes full of electricity, is what drives the engine at Archipelago Books. The mission is not a philosophical one. Nor is it one based on the naive idea that if we all understood one another better the world would suddenly turn utopian. No, this is less everyone shoulder to shoulder singing “We Are the World” and more Mrs. Ramsay from Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, after growing upset at her children for manufacturing differences between people, saying that “people, heaven knows, were different enough without that.” The goal, it seems, is to introduce to the world a voice it hasn’t yet heard, or perhaps—in the case of their Musil, Cortazar, and Rilke titles – a voice one hasn’t yet heard in a particular way. As readers experience these new voices, Schoolman hopes, they will begin to see that, though we are different, we are not nearly as different as we sometimes – usually with very little evidence – make up our minds to be.
Congratulations on 10 amazing years, Archipelago, and here’s to the next 10, and the 100 after that!
Speaking of my piece in Brooklyn Quarterly, it has started some discussion about the role of publishers and the literary world that promotes literature. Check out M. Lynx Qualey’s ArabLit blog (the best source in English to learn about the vast and diverse Arabic literary world) for her piece, “Dear Will, Why I’m Not Starting My Own Publishing House“:
So if I were going to contribute to this ecosystem — of giving literature in translation a greater chance with English-language readers — I wouldn’t start another publishing house. I’d make this whirligig more entertaining. I would brighten the face of ArabLit; I would spark more discussions about trends in Arabic literature; I would run more zizz and contests; I would create book-club materials; I would organize events; I would run more excerpts, short stories, poems. I would also target some of this at young people who might be interested in MG and YA literature in translation.
That’s cool with me, we need as many sources helping to promote translations as possible, and salons/blogs/reviewers like M. Lynx play an invaluable role for any publisher to learn about the artists and the audience both, but the piece misses the larger point that I was making that these days publishers need to play a more active role in creating the community aspect of reading and literary culture, which I argue in the BQ, especially we indie publishers, a point that Scott Esposito picks up on in his blog Conversational Reading in a piece titled “Publishing Literature is Publicizing Literature“:
I see M. Lynx Qualey’s point, but I think this is a little off-base. The word “publish,” after all, includes the definition “to make public announcement of” and “to disseminate to the public” (which leads many authors to quip that they’ve been “privished” when their book is buried in a publisher’s list).
In other words, any publisher who is doing right by his or her work should do exactly what Quayley is asking for. It should be a built in part of their business. And, in fact, good publishers do all the things (or at least as many as they can) that she puts in her list of things that could promote Arab literature. I’d add that publishers have a great incentive to do this—they get to stay in business.
Glad to start a conversation, this is one worth having, and I would love to see more discussion on the theme of finding new ways to reach audiences outside of the traditional publishing industry model (the publishing industry is dead/dying/broken, long live the publishing industry).