Scribe 'recommits' to European non-fiction with three deals

Scribe 'recommits' to European non-fiction with three deals

Scribe has commissioned three “fascinating forays into European non-fiction” as part of its “recommitment” to the genre.

Publisher-at-large for Scribe UK Philip Gwyn Jones has acquired the Dutch, Polish and Swedish titles to help capitalise on the appetite for literary non-fiction from the rest of Europe.

He bought Made in Sweden by Elisabeth Åsbrink, about Britain’s “love affair with all things scandi,” a study of Polish immigration in Ellis Island by Małgorzata Szejnert and The Long Song of Tchaikovsky Street by Pieter Waterdrinker about revolution in Russia.

“Scribe UK has had striking success in its first five years with literature in translation, and of course the most commercially successful book of all for us so far has been a work of non-fiction in translation, Gut by Giulia Enders, of which we have now sold over 200,000 copies in the UK and EU,” a spokesperson for the indie press said.

“It is now becoming increasingly apparent that there is more and more powerfully interesting, original and expressive literary nonfiction coming out of the other European languages and finding an eager readership in English, and what was formerly a one-way publishing street is starting to see some interesting traffic in the opposite direction. It is of course also abundantly clear that the British public could definitely use a deeper, richer, wider understanding of what concerns, excites, mystifies and aggravates our European neighbours.”

Gwyn Jones acquired world English rights for Made in Sweden: the 25 ideas that created a country from Magdalena Hedlund of the Hedlund Agency. Natur & Kultur published the Swedish edition last month, and Scribe will publish in English in the UK, Australia and New Zealand and US in the autumn of 2019.

“With her trademark elegance, intelligence and wit, Elisabeth Asbrink, author of 1947 (Scribe, 2017), demonstrates definitively that Sweden is far less homogenous, moderate, egalitarian, self-knowing or tolerant than it would like to (have us) think,” a company spokesperson said.

Meanwhile Szejnert’s Ellis Island: a people's history will be published in the US, UK and Australia and New Zealand in winter 2020. Gwyn Jones acquired world English language rights from Charlotte Seymour of Nurnberg Associates acting on behalf of Znak Publishers, who published the original Polish edition. According to Scribe, the Polish reporter "has pieced together an entirely moving, entirely dramatic, multi-vocal account of the agony and ecstasy of arriving in the Land of the Free”.

Finally The Long Song of Tchaikovsky Street: a century of revolution in St Petersburg by German novelist Waterdrinker will be published in English in the UK and Australia and Australia and New Zealand in two years’ time. A Scribe spokesperson revealed how “it takes a Dutchman, of all people, to explain the Russian Century in all its messily contradictory strangeness, and in particular its cultural and psychological centre St Petersburg, where he has lived for the last 25 years”.