By Adam Critchley
GUADALAJARA: France’s Anne Marie Métailié, founder of the Paris-based publisher specializing in Latin American literature, has won the Guadalajara Book Fair’s (FIL) publishing merit award.
The prize has been awarded annually since 1993 to acknowledge the outstanding work of a publisher.
The publishing house, Editions Métailié, founded in 1979, is the French-language home of Argentina’s Elsa Osorio, Selva Almada, Eugenia Almeida and Jorge Franco, Mexico’s Élmer Mendoza, Enrique Serna, Colombia’s Santiago Gamboa, Cuban writer Karla Suárez and Chile’s Luis Sepúlveda, among many other Latin Americans.
Métailié also publishes Maïtena, the Argentine cartoonist whose comic strips appear syndicated in newspapers and magazines in Spain and Latin America.
During the award ceremony, FIL president Raúl Padilla López described publishers as the bridge between authors and their readers who exercises “the difficult art of surprising by finding writers with extraordinary potential.”
In her acceptance speech, Métailié said she likes literature written by people who have lived and that all the titles she has published are her personal love stories.
“Publishing is a melancholic profession that almost always ends as an imperfect business,” she said.
The profession requires bulletproof stubbornness, she added.
“I come from a privileged country where books are appreciated and respected and where, until recently, even the presidents expressed a love of literature.”
“When I first came to Latin America, publishers here struck me as heroes, given the adverse conditions they work in, and I have never complained about my own predicament since.”
Mexican publisher Jesús Anaya described the profession he shares with the prizewinner as “an essential social function,” and the role of editor as that of a venture capitalist, by taking a risk with each investment.
Publishing is one of the crucial acts of civilization, he said.
Writers and publishers expressed their admiration for and gratitude to Métaillié, many of which were read out as messages from those not present by Argentina’s Osorio and Franco.
Spanish journalist and novelist Rosa Montero, who has 10 titles published by Métaillié, said the publisher makes her feel like a better writer than she is.
Asked if she has a favorite book in her catalog, Métailié told Publishing Perspectives that it is like being a mother of dozens of children, and it is impossible to choose a favorite, loving them all equally.
“They all have their stories, like everything in life.”
Asked whether she has seen a boom in Latin American literature since she began publishing writers from the continent, she said there has actually been a decline in interest.
“The US domination of culture in Europe has sidelined Latin American writers, and because there are no longer bloody dictatorships in the region, writers from Latin America are no longer considered interesting.”
The catalog, which also features authors from Angola, Brazil, Mozambique, Portugal, runs to more than 1,000 titles and includes ebooks.