Malaysia’s Silverfish Books: Every Book Counts

In Global Trade Talk by Amanda DeMarco

By Amanda DeMarco

You’re not likely to find another Malaysian publishing house quite like Silverfish Books. “I guess, what is unique about us is the way we approach publishing,” says publisher Raman Krishnan, “our focus on storytelling, on the unique Malaysian experience.” Part of that mission has been translating Malaysian culture for English-language readers, a successful endeavor that has been in practice since 2000. Recently, two of Silverfish’s fiction titles, 21 Immortals and Ripples, were shortlisted for major international prizes.

But, says Raman, “Our greatest success was the publication of I Am Muslim by Dina Zaman, a book that, practically shook up the entire country for the way it openly discussed so many subjects considered taboo in this largely conservative Muslim country.”

Raman sees opportunities in the international translation market. Though Anglo-American publishers have proven too risk-averse, Silverfish received enthusiastic responses at last year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, especially from Europeans and the Japanese.

Silverfish, which is simultaneously a publisher, bookstore, and education center, draws energy from its broad range of activities, but it hasn’t lost sight of its core objectives: “We are old fashioned publishers. We sit with authors and go through every manuscript, line by line, and word by word. It is time consuming but rewarding. Every book counts.”

About the Author

Amanda DeMarco

Amanda DeMarco is a freelance writer and translator living in Berlin. Originally from Chicago, her work for Publishing Perspectives focuses on German-language publishing news.