Introducing the new Vintage Editions
From the home of the renowned red-spine Vintage Classics, this month Vintage Publishing introduce a new list to their impressive range, Vintage Editions, showcasing fiction in translation from around the world, with inaugural eight titles. Exclusively for the Foyles blog, Vintage Senior Editor Nick Skidmore has written an essay explaining his inspiration in curating the new list, and his hopes for the selection, along with some hints as to what we can expect for future additions to this exciting new list.
Elegant, pocket-sized paperbacks, Vinatge Editions celebrate the audacity and ambition of the written word, transporting readers to wherever in the world literary innovation may be found.
This September, Vintage launch our new Vintage Editions list – a collection of some of the greatest books we have published in translation over the last few decades. The idea for a new translated list has been brewing for some time at Vintage. Translated fiction has seen a remarkable resurgence in recent years, thanks in part to some of the incredible publishing smaller presses, such as Fitzcarraldo, And Other Stories and Tilted Axis Press have been doing. And yet, despite our history with translated literature, we had no means of spotlighting and celebrating this important part of our publishing heritage.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Vintage Editions is that they’re smaller, A-format books. Portable. That association was built into the series from the very beginning: as much as these books transport readers, we also wanted them to be transportable, thrown into a backpack or beach bag and read on the road. There can be a gravity that readers bring to books in translation, and this choice of format felt like the first step in making these books more approachable. But we haven’t skimped on quality, either: however tactile the Vintage Editons are, they’re also beautifully produced – flaps, uncoated stock, spot panels and coloured foil. As with any list, you aspire for them to be collectable.
Our launch list of eight titles came together almost intuitively. I was already very eager to reissue Emmanuel Carrere’s dark, playful early novels The Moustache and Class Trip, but then I read Philippe Besson’s heart-breaking In the Absence of Men, followed by Yoko Ogawa’s sinister but riveting Revenge. Here were four short, contemporary and criminally overlooked books in translation that felt almost united in the vibrancy of their worlds. The parameters for the list we had long talked about were coming together. Then, there were books that were already modern classics that we knew deserved something special: Carmen Laforet’s stunning novel of youth and Barcelona, Nada; Magda Szabo’s masterly The Door, Nobel Prize Winner, Patrick Modiano’s haunting investigation, The Search Warrant, and, what remains to my mind the perfect introduction to Roberto Bolaño’s literary genius, Distant Star.
The A-format lends itself to shorter books, novellas, and so one of the ‘rules’ of Vintage Editions is that they’re never going to be tomes. That poses a challenge when finding new books for the list – having to think, is this book going to be too big for the series feels like a strange starting point. We’ve had to dismiss some ideas on those grounds. We already have plans for the next ten Vintage Editions, including Jacqueline Harpman’s strange, sad and deeply moving masterpiece of isolation, I Who Have Never Known Men, and Dag Solstad’s Shyness and Dignity. But as we grow the list I’m aware that any exploration of our backlist also unearths many of the prejudices and oversights that have prevailed, and so my hope is that with time the Vintage Editions will also reissue books that Vintage haven’t previously published. As much as it celebrates our past, I hope the list can also speak for our present and future priorities and we can make Vintage Editions a home for discovering and promoting the widest range of authors and languages in translations.