Seven-book series builds a 5,000-mile literary bridge between Shaanxi and Scarborough
Scarborough-based publisher Valley Press is helping to raise the profile of translated books in the UK – currently just 1.5% of general fiction – with a seven-book series by acclaimed Chinese authors.
This comes just days after author A L Kennedy blasted British publishers for not producing more literature in translation.
She said British publishing’s aversion to risk meant it currently had ‘little appetite’ for foreign works, especially since the abolition of the Net Book Agreement which fixed prices for books, leading the industry ‘into a territory of simple calculations of profit and loss’.
However, Valley Press, founded by publisher Jamie McGarry in 2008, is setting itself up as one of the exceptions that prove the rule with Mountain Stories by bestselling Chinese writer Ye Guangqin, due out in July, followed by six more translated titles in 2018 and 2019 all by authors from the Shaanxi province of north-west China.
‘Readers might not have heard of Shaanxi before, or be particularly familiar with the bestselling Chinese-language authors who call that province their home, but they soon will be,’ said Jamie.
‘We've signed an agreement to publish a whole series of titles from the region's finest authors, translated with great care by a team at Northwest University in the city of Xi'an, then edited and proof-read by native English scholars.
‘These books offer an astonishingly fresh literary experience for UK readers – and for us at Valley Press. It's something genuinely new for us to get to grips with and, as you can probably tell, I'm very excited by the whole idea.’
But just how did the ‘whole idea’ of bridging the 5,000-mile gap between Shaanxi and Scarborough come about?
‘Dr Robin Gilbank of Northwest University’s School of Foreign Languages was looking for a UK publisher for this project. He has a family connection to Scarborough and they suggested Valley Press. So, we met in local independent bookshop Wardle & Jones and the arrangement progressed from there,’ said Jamie.
‘It really was a chance encounter of deeply engaged literary people thousands of miles apart.’
:: Mountain Stories, a collection of six tales about the colourful legends and everyday absurdities of life in China’s Qinling Mountains, is available to pre-order from Valley Press, and is represented to the trade by Inpress.