Darf signs Swiss and Japanese novels as it expands publishing remit

Darf signs Swiss and Japanese novels as it expands publishing remit

Darf Publishers has signed a Swiss feminist surrealism novel and a recent winner of Japan’s "most influential" literary award for fiction.

The publishing house, known for its translations of titles from and about the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, is now expanding its remit to cover to all corners of the world.

Darf holds English rights to The Little House by Kyōko Nakajima (translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori) and My Father was a Man on Land and a Whale in the Water by Michelle Steinbeck (translated by Jen Calleja).

Set against the backdrop of World War II, the narrative of The Little House takes the form of a memoir penned by housekeeper Taki, sent to Tokyo from the rural north at age 14 to work as a maid. The novel won Japanese literary award the Naoki Prize in 2010.

Translator Tapley Takemori said: “With her supreme sensitivity and attention to historical detail, Kyoko Nakajima is one of my very favourite contemporary Japanese women novelists. This translation of her 2010 masterpiece The Little House is long overdue, and there couldn’t be a better choice for her debut in English. It is a compelling and delightful read with an intricate plot that is skillfully developed right up to the final surprising twist at the very end.”

In My Father was a Man on Land and a Whale in the Water, a young woman goes on a perilous journey in search of her absent father. Author steinbeck was born in Lenzburg in 1990, and works as an editor at Fabrikzeitung and is organiser of Babelsprech, a forum for young German-language poets. Calleja is a London-based literary translator of German contemporary fiction, non-fiction and YA titles.

Calleja said: "To be translating one of my favourite books of last year is incredibly exciting, not only because I find its originality, strangeness and dark humour intoxicating, but also because an English-language readership will soon be able to discover Steinbeck's nightmarish adventure too. I definitely place her with fairytale surrealists like Leonora Carrington and Angela Carter, and I can't wait to spend a few months inside the world of this book."

Editor Sherif Dhaimish said: "We’re over the moon to have landed these two books. As an indie publishing house, we revel in the freedom we have over choosing new titles. The possibilities and temptations are limitless! It’s nothing short of a privilege to be introducing these two enticing works to audiences that would never have noticed otherwise".

Both titles are expected to be published in 2018.