Scarborough-based indie Valley Press is to publish a seven-book series by "acclaimed" Chinese authors in an attempt to help "raise the profile of translated books in the UK", which currently makes up just 1.5% of general fiction, according to Nielsen Bookscan.
The publisher holds world rights to all formats (in English) to the titles and will publish Mountain Stories by bestselling Chinese writer Ye Guangqin, in July, followed by six more translated titles in 2018 and 2019, all by authors from the Shaanxi province of north-west China.
The publisher's founder Jamie McGarry said: "Readers might not have heard of Shaanxi before, or be particularly familiar with the bestselling Chinese-language authors who call that province their home, but they soon will be. We've signed an agreement to publish a whole series of titles from the region's finest authors, translated with great care by a team at Northwest University in the city of Xi'an, then edited and proof-read by native English scholars.
"These books offer an astonishingly fresh literary experience for UK readers – and for us at Valley Press. It's something genuinely new for us to get to grips with and, as you can probably tell, I'm very excited by the whole idea."
Explaining how the press got involved with the project, McGarry added: "Dr Robin Gilbank of Northwest University’s School of Foreign Languages was looking for a UK publisher for this project. He has a family connection to Scarborough and they suggested Valley Press. So, we met in local independent bookshop Wardle & Jones and the arrangement progressed from there. It really was a chance encounter of deeply engaged literary people thousands of miles apart."
The announcement comes after author A L Kennedy blasted British publishers for not producing more literature in translation. Speaking at European Literature Night, on the future of European writing earlier this month, Kennedy said British publishing’s aversion to risk meant it currently had "little appetite" for foreign works, especially since the abolition of the Net Book Agreement which fixed prices for books, leading the industry "into a territory of simple calculations of profit and loss".