Pushkin Children’s Press: The Official Story
Just as we all are, children are fascinated by stories. From the earliest age, we love to hear about monsters and heroes, romance and death, disaster and rescue, from every place and time.
In 2013, we created Pushkin Children’s Books to share these tales from different languages and cultures with younger readers, and to open the door to the wide, colourful worlds these stories offer.
From picture books and adventure stories to fairy tales and classics, and from fifty-year-old bestsellers to current huge successes abroad, the books on the Pushkin Children’s list reflect the very best stories from around the world, for our most discerning readers of all: children.
At The Book Wars, we feel very strongly about diverse children’s literature and we care immensely that more of this diverse children’s literature be available for English-reading children. It is a well known fact that while books originally written in English may be translated into many different languages, books written in other languages are rarely translated into English. Why that is so is a post for another day. Today we introduce to you Pushkin Children’s Press which only recently launched their North American branch and made available, for the very first time, several popular children’s books that heretofore had never been published in English. You can find out more about them and the books they offer from their website but we had Adam Freudenheim answer a few of our burning questions about Pushkin Children’s Press.
Adam has worked in publishing since 1998 and was Publisher of Penguin Classics, Modern Classics and Reference from 2004 to 2012. He is perhaps best known for helping to rediscover the work of the German writer Hans Fallada, with the first English-language publication of Alone in Berlin. Born in Baltimore, Adam lived near Düsseldorf and in Berlin for nearly three years and came to the UK in 1997. Adam brings his passion for international literature and exquisitely designed books to Pushkin.
1. Pushkin Press, along with its imprint Pushkin’s Children’s Books, is dedicated to translating books from other languages into English. Considering the emergence of the recent #weneeddiversebooks movement, why do you think it is necessary for children to read books featuring a diverse cast telling a variety of stories?
I’m not sure that it’s say ‘necessary’ but I’d certainly say it’s desirable as the larger variety of voices and stories from all around the world that children – and adults! – are exposed to the better in this very cosmopolitan age.
2. How do you decide which books to translate from their original language into English? What prerequisites does a book need to pass for it be considered worthy of translation?
Pushkin Press is quite unusual in that nearly all our list consists of titles already published successfully elsewhere, be they contemporary works or modern classics. Beyond that it’s about personal taste and a feeling or instinct that the books will resonate with English-speaking readers.
3. Would you be able to walk us through the process? What happens after a book has selected to be translated and published in English?
First, we have to acquire the underlying rights. Usually these are held by the original publisher though on occasion by an agent for the author or author’s estate. Then, we commission the translation. Once we have the translation in hand we read it and it then needs to be edited and copy-edited, typeset and proof-read. We design a cover/jacket, a blurb has to be written and the book has to be sold to our sales team and they and our publicist in turn sell the book to retailers and the media.
4. Do the translations preserve the culture in which the stories are told? For example, lots of translate Manga titles come with notes at the end of each chapter explaining things are have no literal translation or are based on the culture in which the book is rooted. Do books published by Pushkin Press have something similar?
This is very dependent on the individual title. Some books do require footnotes of this kind while others really don’t. There are no hard and fast rules.
5. Pushkin Press recently launched an international children’s imprint and this will lead to many titles being available for the first time in North America. Are there any titles in particular you are excited to share with a non-British audience?
I’m excited about all of them! We are aiming to find the best titles from other countries, both modern classics and contemporary works which have not yet appeared in English. Our first years of children’s publishing in North America includes books translated from French, German, Japanese, Swedish and Danish.
Stay tuned for our reviews of Pushkin Press books. We’re excited and you should be too!