World: 'And Other Stories' - an innovative new way of publishing translations

Sophie Lewis, Editor at Large of 'And Other Stories', tells us about rewriting the rules of publishing

The books we love best don't always emerge via the latest hype. They may remain someone else’s private passion until a chance conversation starts to spread the word. With this in mind, our new publishing venture, And Other Stories, looks for books to publish by stimulating discussion among readers - and we don’t ignore the riches of writing in other languages either.

We work by gathering circles of people, virtually and physically, who are into reading powerful and unusual literature from around the world; we track down books in some of the languages that we can read between us (reading groups this year will include French, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian); we translate samples and pass them around; eventually we pick the best: the novels and stories that we think demand publication.

We’re a Community Interest Company, which in our case means that we’re a not-for-private-profit publisher. We have only three core people, but there are many more who feed in ideas and skills in whatever way they prefer, from regular techie work to once-in-a-blue-moon comments. Another feature that distinguishes us from more traditional publishers is that we offer subscriptions as well as bookshop sales. Not only do our subscribers get to attend our talks and parties, and be the first to receive copies of the books we publish, they can also have a say in what we publish.

The debate over which books to choose has been fierce and productive. Since And Other Stories was launched by Stefan Tobler in 2010, we have signed two fantastic works, by Mexican and Argentinian authors Juan Pablo Villalobos and Iosi Havilio, and a further two contracts are in the post for books by Clemens Meyer (German) and Carlos Gamerro (Argentinian – again! We just love the Argentinian works we have discovered). As it turns out, our first two signings have a Harvill Secker connection. Juan Pablo Villalobos’ Fiesta en la Madriguera has been highly praised by future Harvill Secker author Matías Néspolo as a ‘brief and majestic debut that converts the “drug novel” into a fascinating narrative’. And it was by winning Harvill Secker’s Young Translator’s Prize with her translation of a Néspolo story that Beth Fowler came to our attention. We’re delighted that her first book contract is to translate Iosi Havilio’s Opendoor for us.

Simply looking beyond the Anglophone world seems radical in publishing these days. This is why I got involved and have swiftly found myself reading, editing, doing publicity and working on all kinds of other aspects of the business. I hosted a proper literary party at my place last month, for our first author. And Other Stories is a fascinating combination of the traditional and the avant-garde: the fundamental joy of sharing great literature; the Victorian satisfaction, verging on smugness, that comes with subscribing, but focused on a literature that is certainly not about best-selling or crowd-pleasing taste. If you would like to subscribe, please click here and get in touch with Stefan. We launched our first major subscriber appeal in December and are proud to count several hundred new supporters since then.