'Les Fugitives is an independent publishing house with a very precise remit. It publishes only short books that have been written by award-winning, female, francophone writers who have previously not been translated into English. If that sounds incredibly niche, it isn’t. (And if you do think it’s niche, think of the long French literary tradition of imposing rules on fiction, like the Perec-centred Oulipo movement.) Think of how many books are published, think of how many literary awards are given, think of how many writers are women and think of how many places in the world people speak French. With these rules, they obviously have a limited pool of books to choose from, but still a large one. (...)if Blue Self-Portrait is anything to go by, then Les Fugitives is clearly doing the English world of letters a great service, because this is a belter.'
- Scott Manley Hadley, The Triumph of the Now, June 2017
‘Criminal Aesthetics’, an interview with Les Fugitives, on Suite for Barbara Loden and Eve out of Her Ruins.
- HOTEL, issue 1, 22 June 2016
‘Earlier this year, with little fanfare, a mysterious new publishing collective of editors, translators and designers called Les Fugitives published an extraordinary novel.’
- Bidisha, BBC Arts, 21 October 2015
'Nothing is as consubstantial with literature and its modest mystery as the questions raised by a translation.' J.L. Borges
'Toute poésie est traduction. Toute traduction est supérieure à son original.' Antoine Berman, L’épreuve de l’étranger
Perhaps because we will be publishing no more than two titles a year, our translators and editors are provided with optimal conditions in which to perfect their work, far from the usual commercial imperatives. Our books are critically acclaimed in France yet have nevertheless eluded the attention of more established publishers in the UK, ‘fallen between the cracks’. In the belief that short works of fiction or ‘near fiction’, to borrow from Dorothy, a publishing project, make for an ideal introduction to an author’s body of work we favour short books that sit comfortably between genres. Besides, the short book, being necessarily elliptic, possesses an allusive, poetic quality that leaves more to the imagination of the book’s unique creative partner: the reader. In this sense it is both lighter and more intense. As Meike Ziervogel aptly puts it, it is ‘the perfect form to sharpen and make use of our creative reading skills.’
We also favour storytelling that follows in the steps of the modernists’ efforts and their successors’: non-linear narratives, sometimes better described as textes (in French), when moving freely between genres. This said, the modernists did not invent ‘mongrel books‘, and neither did we.
Cinema has long infiltrated the world of literature and, partly inspired by our first title, we endeavour to build a collection that has either a distinct cinematic feel in the writing itself, if not a direct link with film history.
Travelling, wandering, deserting, running away… Les Fugitives are about stories of people who don’t fit in; stories raising old and new questions about gender and identity; stories about strangers, about almost-love, and about solidarity: today and in the second half of the last century.
Les Fugitives is represented by Inpress Books and distributed by NBN International.
Photograph of an unknown woman by the River Thames, London, copyright Cécile Lee, 2013.
Les Fugitives was inspired and informed by a number of benevolent authors, book-lovers and editors; a kind of free-forming collective unaware of itself. In their different and complementary ways, all act or have acted as a significant part of Les Fugitives, including Lanning Aldrich, Charles Boyle, Albert Dichy, Sophie Lewis, Max Porter, Angeline Rothermundt, Meike Ziervogel, Daisy Bartlett, Laure Birckel, Sydney Diack, Jennifer Obidike, Leyla Yilmaz, Anaïs Mims, Keith Ashley, Laura Carlin, Dominic Lee, Ursula McLaughlin, Thomas Swann, Gareth Evans, Anna Goodall, and Dominic Jaeckle. Les Fugitives was founded and is directed by Cécile Menon.