Promising Stuff

By Georgia de Chamberet

The autumn leaves fell as the school year began when I was a child; now they stay on the trees longer as indian summers become the norm. In Britain around 120,000 new books are published every year, of which 6,000 are novels. Around 1% of unsolicited (fiction) manuscripts received in a year are published. Since getting a first novel published, and publicized, is harder than ever before, no wonder the web is the next big thing. To seek, perchance to dream….

The picture for foreign big hitters looks hopeful. Bloomsbury, Harvill Secker, Picador, Chatto & Windus, and Weidenfeld continue to publish translated fiction. While feisty indies Arcadia, Bitter Lemon Press, Canongate, Marion Boyars, Gallic Books, Hesperus, Oneworld Classics (who have acquired Calder Publications), Portobello Books, Pushkin Press, Serpent's Tail, and Telegram showcase new voices, or reprint forgotten treasures. Rumors are trickling out that an imprint of Quercus Books is being set up to publish ten translated titles a year.

As independent bookshops sign up to John Bird's revolutionary wedge card scheme—which gives you the satisfaction that the money you spend is staying in the community—could the spirit of ethical trading filter through to publishing?

Boyd Tonkin, the erudite and charming literary editor of the Independent, tells me that the number of entries for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize have been increasing. And that

Per Petterson, who won the 2006 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, has scooped the 2007 IMPAC Award—he was up against Julian Barnes, Sebastian Barry and J.M. Coetzee.

Promising stuff indeed.


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