Germany’s Voland & Quist Opens English Translation Imprint

In News by Porter Anderson

A German house opens a new English-language imprint for the UK and Ireland, ‘to help bridge the gap between Europe and the UK.’

The board of publishers for the new V&Q Books imprint are, from left, Sebastian Wolter, Katy Derbyshire, Karina Fenner, Leif Greinus, Helge Pfannenschmidt. Image: Robert Gommlich, V&Q books

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Remarkable Writing From Germany’

The German independent publishing house Voland & Quist was founded in 2004 and has offices in Berlin, Dresden, and Leipzig.

Now, with a sizable headline that reads “Remarkable Writing from Germany,” the company has opened a new imprint, V&Q Books, an English-language distribution vehicle for the UK and Ireland that comes with a promise to bust myths “including the one about Germans having no sense of humor.”

With its first titles to be released about a year from now, V&Q is expected to start with some five to six books annually in categories of commercial, literary fiction and narrative nonfiction. Much of the writing is translated from German, according to the company’s media messaging from Berlin, but the publisher also expects to produce content originating in Germany but in other languages.

“And we hope to champion original English writing produced in Germany,” the company says.

Three titles have been named for the first releases:

  • Lucy Fricke’s Daughters, translated from the German by Sinead Crowe, tells the story of two women, pushing 40, according to promotional copy, “on a road trip across Europe, each of them dealing with difficult fathers along the way.”
  • Sandra Hoffmann’s Paula, translated by Katy Derbyshire, is “a moving piece of autofiction about the writer’s relationship to her grandmother, a devout Swabian Catholic who refused to reveal who fathered her child in 1946.”
  • Francis Nenik’s narrative nonfiction, Journey Through a Tragicomic Century, translated by Derbyshire, is about the life of the writer Hasso Grabner, “told with great joy in language and love of absurdity. The journey takes us from the Young Communists in 1920s Leipzig to wartime Crete, with Grabner falling from steelworks director to a vilified author banned from publishing his work in the GDR.”

As it happens, Derbyshire, who appears as translator in two of the three books just listed, is one of a board of publishers of V&Q Books, a role she shares with four colleagues.

She has announced that other authors in the pipeline for translation at V&Q are Selim Özdoğan, Isabel Bogdan, Marica Bodrožić, Birgit Weyhe, Ivana Sajko, and Marcel Beyer.

In a prepared statement for the announcement, she’s quoted, saying that she hopes the new imprint “will help bridge the gap between Europe and the UK.

“Our books tell stories of complex identities and family relationships, migration, and the impact of world history on individual lives,” says Derbyshire.

“They’re beautifully written, translated and presented, and have a strong sense of place.

“We plan to bust plenty of myths, including the one about Germans having no sense of humor.”

In Germany, the company also runs a booking agency for writers, including the writer Clemens Meyer, shortlisted for the German Book Prize in 2013 for his Im Stein. Live appearances are an essential and lively part of the German literary scene, and we hope to bring some of this verve to the UK and Ireland.

More from Publishing Perspectives on translation is here, and more from us on the German market is here. More in our Industry Notes series is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident fellow of Trends Research & Advisory, and he has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.