And Other Stories is publishing its fourth title by South African author Ivan Vladislavić in November (The Folly, £10) as part of its bid to build his audience in the UK.
Vladislavić, who lives in Johannesburg, has been published in South Africa by Umuzi, an imprint of Penguin Random House, since the late 1980s but has only recently been published in the UK. He has won the South African Sunday Times Fiction Prize and the Alan Paton Award for non-fiction, but is yet to chart in Nielsen BookScan’s weekly TCM Top 5,000 in the UK, something And Other Stories is hoping will change with the release of The Folly.
It is the fourth book by Vladislavić that And Other Stories has published, though it is in fact his début novel, which was originally published in South Africa in 1993. To date And Other Stories has released three of his books: Double Negative in 2013; The Restless Supermarket in 2014; and 101 Detectives earlier this year.
Earlier this year the author was one of the recipients of the Windham-Campbell Prize, which awards $150,000 each to three dramatists, three fiction writers and three writers of non-fiction. Other writers who were named as recipients this year include Edmund de Waal and Geoff Dyer.
And Other Stories began publishing Vladislavić after his agent, Isabel Dixon at Blake Friedmann, approached publisher Stefan Tobler. Tobler said: “We committed very early to publishing the short stories and as soon as the rights became available to The Folly we were keen to take it. We’re doing a mixture of publishing his new work and catching up with his backlist.”
Speaking of the challenges of launching an author who is popular in their home country in a different territory, Tobler said: “For a literary novelist I’m not so worried about the market being different—it’s really about getting people excited about him and getting reviews. The advantage is that there are some people who have already read him.” Vladislavić has recently been described by J M Coetzee as “a writer of great sophistication”.
One barrier to building a presence for an overseas author is their physical absence in the targeted country, although And Other Stories brought Vladislavić over for the publication of The Restless Supermarket.
Tobler said: “It’s hard to generalise but foreign authors won’t be plugged into the local scene, they won’t be a known entity and so potentially won’t be received with the same curiosity of someone who is locally known and visible on the literary scene.”
Despite these potential problems, Tobler is positive about the potential for Vladislavić in the UK: “I think the prize in the US, the Coetzee quote and The Folly being a pretty fun, madcap book means his moment has now come. It’s been a slow build, a gradual process, but we knew it would be. It’s starting to get exciting.”
And Other Stories has had previous success building a UK market for authors who are successful in their own countries or languages, most notably Yuri Herrera, author of Signs Preceding the End of the World which garnered glowing reviews when it was published in March this year.
Herrera was popular in the Spanish-speaking market but had not been translated into English before. Tobler is currently applying for funding from English PEN to bring Herrera over to the UK.
And Other Stories is also publishing Herrera in the US, and both authors’ titles are distributed by Consortium in the US.