|Jacques Testard and Fitzcarraldo staff in their Deptford office|
Fitzcarraldo Editions is an independent publisher specialising in contemporary fiction and long-form essays. Founded in 2014, it focuses on ambitious, imaginative and innovative writing, both in translation and in the English language. The series, designed by Ray O’Meara, are published as paperback originals with French flaps, using a custom serif typeface (called Fitzcarraldo). Fitzcarraldo Editions publishes, among other authors, the 2015, 2018, 2022 and 2023 Nobel Prize in Literature laureates Svetlana Alexievich, Olga Tokarczuk, Annie Ernaux and Jon Fosse.
I am back in London. Vince gave me a lift. I went to see Sean yesterday morning. He told me his new novel, the one I helped with a tiny bit, is finished.
"Who are you going to send it to?"
"Jacques Testard, he was quite keen on 'The Englishwoman' but decided in the end it didn't quite fit with his imprint."
'The Englishwoman' was Sean's previous effort. Jacques' 'imprint' is Fitzcarraldo Editions.
If you’re a publisher, and four of your writers have won the Nobel Prize for Literature, you might be expected to be slightly blasé should a fifth scoop the same award. Jacques Testard, founder of the independent Fitzcarraldo Editions, is the only publisher in Britain who can confirm that this is not the case. When I speak to him on Friday, he’s overwhelmed.
The Norwegian novelist Jon Fosse, eight of whose books Fitzcarraldo has published in translation since 2018, has just won the 2023 Nobel. Fosse follows in the footsteps of four other Nobel Laureates published by Fitzcarraldo: last year’s winner, the French writer Annie Ernaux; Olga Tokarczuk, the writer and activist from Poland, who won in 2018; the Belarusian journalist-essayist Svetlana Alexievich, who won in 2015; and Elfriede Jelinek, the Austrian playwright and novelist who won in 2004 and subsequently joined Fitzcarraldo’s list too.
This is an astonishing hit-rate for any publisher. What makes it all the more remarkable is that Fitzcarraldo is a small independent firm, founded less than a decade ago. It has seven full-time staff, three of whom are editors, and publishes books at a modest rate: 23 this year.
Not too shabby my old friend Mr Burke. Not too shabby at all.