The Governesses longlisted for the Best Translated Book Awards

** UPDATE ** The Governesses has now been named a fiction finalist for the BTBA prize! ** UPDATE **

Anne Serre’s The Governesses, translated by Mark Hutchinson, has been longlisted for this year’s 2019 Best Translated Book Awards. Founded and directed by Chad Post of Open Letter Books, Rochester, New York, the award is open to first translations of fiction and poetry published in the US.

The Governesses was first published in the US by New Directions in October 2018 and in the UK by Les Fugitives in April, 2019. A brilliant introduction to the work of Anne Serre, with high hopes, we wish the best of luck to our friends at New Directions and to all other BTBA longlisted titles!

Sophie Lewis's translation of Blue Self-Portrait Shortlisted for Scott Moncrieff Prize 2018

Congratulations to Sophie Lewis for her translation of Blue Self-Portrait by Noémi Lefebvre (Les Fugitives’s third title)!

Also shortlisted are the translators of Alain Mabanckou, Virginie Despentes (translated by previous Scott Moncrieff laureate Frank Wynn), Vénus Khoury-Ghata and graphic novel writer and illustrator Dominique Goblet — that’s four female authors and translators out of five (see The Society of Authors for the full shortlist of all translation awards 2019).

In the judges’ words: ‘Sophie Lewis’s  translation artfully renders the syntactical and lexical syncopations that  Noémi  Lefebvre deploys to evoke - and destabilise - the temporal and geographical moorings in her narrative counterpoint.’ (We couldn’t agree more.) 

The Scott Moncrieff Prize is an annual award of £1,000 for translations into English of full length French works of literary merit and general interest. Established in 1965, and named after the celebrated translator of Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu, the prize is generously sponsored by the Institut français du Royaume-Uni. The 2016 Scott Moncrieff Prize, for translations published in 2015, went to Natasha Lehrer and Cécile Menon for their translation of Suite for Barbara Loden, by Nathalie Léger, published Les Fugitives, in an exceptional year for the nano-press’s very first book. We are delighted to be back in the translation prizes runner-ups, for the third consecutive year (Jeffrey Zuckerman was shortlisted for the TA’s inaugural First Translation Prize 2018 for Eve out of Her Ruins, by Ananda Devi)

The translation prizes will be awarded in a ceremony at The British Library Knowledge Centre on 13th February.

Now, Now, Louison by Jean Frémon longlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses 2019

Now, Now, Louison among excellent company on this year’s Republic of Consciousness longlist!

‘An immersive and profoundly satisfying engagement with the artist Louise Bourgeois. Gorgeously translated, it is full of illuminating observations on a remarkable life and tremendous body of work, from the striking opening to the final poignant evocation of gathering darkness. ‘

Announced 14 January 2019 with TLS Online
Republic of Consciousness Prize for Small Presses 2019 longlist

Listen to Neil Griffiths and guests discuss Now, Now, Louison on the November and December 2018 RofC podcast.

RofC Podcast for Small Presses Episode 3.1

RofC Podcast for Small Presses Episode 3

New Directions to publish 'Now, Now, Louison' by Jean Frémon in 2019

Now, Now, Louison will be published in the USA by New Directions in March 2019. This is a first collaboration between Les Fugitives and the much-admired American independent literary press. Two more books for publication in 2019, in partnership with New Directions, are underway and will be announced later this year. Meanwhile the editors of Harper's BAZAAR USA have also fallen in love with Now, Now, Louison and will publish a 2000 words excerpt in their August issue 2018.

New general release of 'Wanda', written and directed by Barbara Loden

The Film Stage has announced that Wanda, Barbara Loden's American independent 1970 landmark is to return to theatres thanks to production company Janus Films. 'Thanks to the likes of champions Isabelle Huppert and John Waters – as well as Nathalie Léger’s recent book – the film has received a resurgence as of late, and now Janus Films will release it in theaters this summer, followed by a likely release on The Criterion Collection.' Suite for Barbara Loden by Nathalie Léger, was published in the UK by Les Fugitives in March 2015 and by American indie press Dorothy Project in 2016.


Eimear McBride, BBC R4 A Good Read, 18 July 2017, 4.30PM GMT

Presenter Sara Cox & Eimear McBride, author of A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing, talk about books they love with Harriett Gilbert.  Eimear recommends Suite for Barbara Loden by Nathalie Léger, in which a French researcher tries to write a biography of the film actress Barbara Loden. She's now nearly forgotten despite being the first woman to write, direct and star in her own feature film, Wanda, which won the International Critics Award at the 1970 Venice Film Festival.

Firecracker Awards 2017

The fiction finalist of the CLMP (Community of Literary Magazines and Presses, USA) Firecracker Awards is Eve out of Her Ruins. The award was accepted on 6th June 2017 by translator Jeffrey Zuckerman.

And the winner is...

Eve out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi was shortlisted for the 2017 fiction shortlists of the BTBA and the newly created readers' award Albertine Prize.  See The Offing and Lithub for exclusive web excerpts.

Our first title, Suite for Barbara Loden by Nathalie Léger (2015) won the 2016 Scott Moncrieff Prize for Translation. It was shortlisted for the fiction shortlist of the French-American Foundation 2017 Translation Prize and longlisted for the 2017 Albertine Prize. It was chosen by Eimear McBride as one of her two Books of the Year in the Guardian’s Best Books of 2015. See exclusive web excerpts on 3:AM and The Paris Review. 

On 18th June 2016, Isabelle Huppert introduced a rare and exclusive screening of Wanda (the inspiration behind Nathalie Léger’s docu-novel) at the Whitechapel Gallery in London.

US election, half a year on

Translators' words, written in the wake of the US election

The US election has put a new responsibility on us as translators and publishers to stand up to misogyny and bigotry and misinformation.

"It is in times like this when we most need stories that open windows into other spaces and other lives. It would not be unreasonable to read Eve Out of Her Ruins as an allegory of these various populist movements. There's the same seductive resistance to authority, that same adolescent insistence on destructive, romantic rebellion. But then comes the more difficult question: how does Eve go forward into a better life after escaping and bringing down the various forces that held her back and hurt her? How does any country move forward after saying 'no' and casting aside the framework that had, however imperfectly, kept it on a steady course? It is one thing to want change, but it is another to see change through to a new reality.

It's only one of many possible readings that could be applied to Eve--the fact is that I had never thought about the book and the story in such terms until this election came around."
— Jeffrey Zuckerman, translator of Eve out of Her Ruins


Rooting for Peirene – the long and short of it

Peirene Press editor Meike Ziervogel was right to be delighted by the TLS’s praise for the novellas she publishes: “two-hour books to be devoured in a single sitting: literary cinema for those fatigued by film.” An even more catchy expression came from the less highly regarded but more popular Metro: “highbrow escapism for the time-poor”. Of course, she is right to embrace such praise.  You don’t bite the hand that feeds you, unless you’re a peculiarly reckless (suicidal) kind of small independent literary publisher. But let’s think about it for a moment. Film has long infiltrated literary creation but how can one blithely put on a par the experience of viewing a film and of reading a book?

The first question concerns the role of the critic. “All a critic has to do,” Dr Johnson tells us, “is to be as intelligent as possible”. This isn’t always true. The kind of literary criticism that offers snappy soundbites that sound like advertising copy offers an interesting case in point when you think that, essentially, (good) advertising is about how smart you are at selling a lie. (This is a simplistic view of course as the excellent little book TheMedium Is the Message: And 50 other Ridiculous Advertising Rules [BIS Publishers, Amsterdam, 2009]) wittily points out).

Let’s think about reading for a minute. Does it matter how long the book you read is – aside from its physical weight in your pocket or bag, if you still read on paper (and assuming you’re not reading in preparation for an exam, being the kind of student that thrives under pressure and leaves things to the very last minute)? How does the interpretative and imaginative work required by the reader, whichever kind of fiction you read, regardless of its literary merits and its length, compare with what happens in the viewer’s mind whilst watching a film? When, by definition, the images exist in front of the viewer’s eye(s), as opposed to being produced in the camera obscura of the mind’s single and singular eye whilst reading a book?

Take The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald, a masterpiece of contemporary fiction. It’s a short novel, written in extremely succinct prose, about which reviewers have written abundantly and beautifully.  Maybe like me, you read slowly. Or maybe, also like me, when a book is so very good (The Leopard comes to mind) you won’t rush through it, even when you really want to know what happens next or, if nothing much happens but the style is enthralling, you want to devour (but rather, savour) each sentence, perhaps even re-reading the same sentence or paragraph several times.

I wasn’t particularly pressed for time when I read The Blue Flower; by this I mean I wasn’t snowed under, struggling to keep up with a zillion things or preoccupied with some prickly problem. I wasn’t idle either, just going about the daily business of life and work. But it took me three weeks. And I couldn’t read anything else (any other new piece of fiction, that is) for at least two weeks after that. I was still in or with the book after reading the book. Or, more precisely, the book was still in or with me, doing what some books do when you’ve finished them: they leave traces, even as they slowly fade away. This is a banal experience that most readers will identify with. Films, perhaps because we spend less time absorbed in them, have generally a lighter impact, or not as long-lasting, I think. When you finish a book you really love, the experience can be akin to how you feel when you separate from a lover.  You can’t (and why should you?) just move on.

In any case, surely the point of reading a book is the experience of reading, not how long it takes. But in the case of a publisher like Peirene Press in the UK, and the equally wonderful Editions Cent Pages in France, surely the first thing to be said regarding their particular chosen perspective, is that while the books they publish are intrinsically entertaining because of their brevity and strong, almost concentrated identity, their chosen short form provides a unique vista into a writer’smore substantial body of work. These publishers seek to reach out to and cultivate the reader’s openness of mind as much as to inscribe each book in a particular temporality, the way a collection does: in other words, it’s not about novelty publishing or publishing a great writer’s latest work.

The previous paragraph does nothing that the snappy wording of the TLS and Metro does but I’m not in the advertising business, nor is a publishing house an actual product. This may sound hopelessly romantic and out of touch with the commercial imperatives dominating contemporary Western culture, but independent publishers like Peirene and many others are primarily human adventures attesting of a deep personal commitment to the books they deliver to the world. As to whether books are products or not, the answer probably depends on which side your bread is buttered but Laura J. Miller’s study on bookselling Reluctant Capitalists (2007) offers an interesting vantage point. Now, to “highbrow escapism”…