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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Epitome of Great Writing Translation - Coming to America!

I have often thought about all the great writing and written stories/ideas born in other countries and wished I could read these works in my native language; to really get a first-hand idea of what people in other parts of the world were reading, thinking, appreciating and talking about ... Know what I mean?

There have been translated works done before, but now we have a company devoted to translating all kinds of great modern and classic literature ... AND the translations are accomplished by reknowned authors in their own right!

Introducing Europa Editions.

Brittany Hazelwood of Publishing Perspectives writes this and interviews Michael Reynolds, Editor-in-chief, Europa Editions:

From Italy to NYC: Europa Editions Translates Success

“We feel there is a lot of good work out there . . . our job as publishers is to find it and publish it so that American readers can know what is being read, appreciated and talked about in other parts of the world.”



NEW YORK: “We are not peddling literature in translation as if it were a medicine that could cure all ills,” says Michael Reynolds, Editor-in-chief of Europa Editions. “We believe in reading, in literature, and we feel there is a lot of good work out there . . . our job as publishers is to find it and publish it so that American readers can know what is being read, appreciated and talked about in other parts of the world.”

Founded in 2005, Europa has emerged as one of the premier publishers of translated fiction in the United States, first coming to the attention of readers after the surprise success of its 2008 translation of Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog, which started with a print run of 15,000 and has gone on to sell and extraordinary 800,000 copies so far.

“It’s been,” says Reynolds, “like riding a wave.”

The surfing analogy comes perhaps a little too naturally to Reynolds, who was born in Australia. But like his list, he’s both eclectic and extremely international, having emigrated in his 20s, living on and off in the United States before settling in Italy. There, while running a literary festival in Rome, Reynolds heard the owners of the publishing house Edizioni EO were interested in launching a new publishing house in the U.S. He landed the gig.

In the intervening six years, Europa has published 115 titles — typically doing 20 books a year, a little more than half of which are in translation. The staff has grown to three, including Reynolds, publisher Kent Carroll, publicist Julia Haav, while the production, sales and marketing managers support Europa from Rome.


The publisher is continuing to expand operations as well. In August, Europa launched a new imprint, Tonga Books, in which prominent writers pick the titles. The first selections were made by Alice Sebold and include Alexander Maksik’s You Deserve Nothing, which has already won high praise from critics, and Ian Holding’s Of Beasts and Beings. In November, Europa will open a London office, with plans to launch a first full season — 15 books selected from the most successful US publications — in the UK in January. The director of the UK operation will be announced just prior the Frankfurt Book Fair.

We recently spoke with Reynolds, who now lives in New York, about Europa’s unique market position and plans for the future. Be warned: Reynolds issues some tall orders to emerging editors and publishers in the world of literary translation that have kept Europa strong throughout the years.

PP: How would you characterize Europa’s publishing philosophy?



It’s an extension of the original idea of Sandro Ferri and Sandra Ozzola. They started publishing authors from Eastern Europe in Italy about 35 years ago, when very few other publishers were doing so. Europa Editions is an extension of this same idea. Six years ago when the company was founded there were so few non-anglophone authors being published in America. It struck us as a shame that readers had no access to these authors, and, at the same time, it presented itself as a business opportunity.


How have you developed such an avid fan base in such a short time?

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