Pushkin Press is publishing the first volume of a bestselling French historical series.
The Brethren (September, £12.99) is the first of 13 volumes in the Fortunes of France series by Robert Merle, which has sold five million copies worldwide but has never been translated into English before. Merle, who died in 2004, was a translator and interpreter during the Second World War. The series was initially published across four decades.
The Brethren is editor Daniel Seton’s first acquisition at Pushkin. Seton describes it as “a lusty, exhilarating adventure story”, saying: “It’s got all the dash of Flashman and the grit of Sharpe combined with real historical and philosophical insight to rival The Name of the Rose. This isn’t the new Wolf Hall; The Brethren is more of an exercise in traditional storytelling.”
Pushkin acquired the series after translator T Jefferson Kline sent the publisher a complete translation. Seton, who speaks French, read the translation and then the entire series in the original French. Seton said: “Even though publishing a historical fiction series of this kind is something of a departure for Pushkin Press, it’s also completely in line with what we want to be doing as a publisher—introducing British readers to brilliant stories that are much-loved in other countries but hitherto neglected in the UK.”
Talking about translated fiction more broadly, Seton believes that the relatively small share of the market is “not due to any dislike of translated fiction. The reader doesn’t really care so long as it’s a great story. It’s due to attitudes within publishing, not readers, but it’s starting to change.” The second volume in the series will follow next year.
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