Eric Visser, founder of independent Dutch publisher De Geus, is setting up a new publishing company, World Editions, which will release world literature and non-fiction in English for the UK and European market.
De Geus has published books in 39 languages over its 31-year history, by authors including Colm Toíbin and Rose Tremain, and 14 Nobel Prize winners. Despite this, Visser said: “We still found that it was hard for our Dutch authors to break through internationally. Most editors around the world read English but not, for example, Dutch, French or Swedish so I decided to start publishing in English.”
World Editions is a separate company from De Geus, but both are owned by Visser and his wife Annemie Jans, and they share production and distribution teams in the Netherlands.
World Editions has been started with Karin Wessel, previously of Europa Editions, and its focus is broad and ambitious. Visser said: “Good literature reflects the world we live in, [it] pays attention to both male and female, and has a special focus on migration. We learn a lot from the stories migrants carry, and I still think that the role of women in literature remains undervalued.”
World Editions launches with two titles in January: Craving by Esther Gerritsen, translated from the Dutch by Michele Hutchison (£13.99), and Saturday’s Shadows by Ayesha Harruna Attah (£15.99). February sees the release of Gliding Flight by Anne-Gine Goemans, translated from the Dutch by Nancy Forest-Flier (£16.99), and The Helios Disaster by Linda Boström Knausgård, translated from the Swedish by Rachel Wilson-Broyles (£12.99).
Visser believes the launch titles will “create the image of the company”. Gerritsen is a celebrated Dutch author and playwright; Craving (Dorst in its original Dutch) was nominated for the Libris Literature Prize in 2012. It tells the story of an estranged mother and daughter who are reunited by the mother’s illness—it has been described as a “razor-sharp psychological duet”.
Attah, who grew up in Ghana but now lives in the US, has been lauded by Man Booker-shortlisted author NoViolet Bulawayo. Saturday’s Shadows is set in a West African country in the 1990s as a military dictatorship crumbles.
The books will all feature rounded corners and ribbon bookmarks, with Visser saying: “The high quality of our books is our branding.” Sales and distribution in the UK will be handled by Turnaround, with PR Collective in charge of publicity. Vissner said: “We rely on the goodwill and the curiosity of the press, booksellers and readers. We intend to add new voices to the canon of beautiful, great literature.”
World Editions plans to publish around 20 titles in 2015 in the UK, with e-books released simultaneously, and hopes to make moves towards distribution in the US. In 2016, the Netherlands and Belgium will be the Market Focus countries at the Frankfurt Book Fair, and the publisher plans to present 25 English translations of Dutch and Flemish authors at the fair. “It will be a great platform for our writers and for World Editions,” Visser said.
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