A Gallimard Editor Opens a New Publishing House in Marseille

In Feature Articles by Olivia Snaije

Planning to eventually publish up to 20 books per year, Marie-Pierre Gracedieu leaves Paris to establish a new press in Marseille called Le Bruit du Monde.

Adrien Servières and Marie-Pierre Gracedieu. Image: Charlotte Jolly de Rosnay

By Olivia Snaije | @OliviaSnaije

‘Artistic Vibrancy and Energy’
Marie-Pierre Gracedieu, former head of international literature at Gallimard, has announced that she’ll be establishing a publishing house with her partner Adrien Servières, who has worked as a bookseller and as a sales director in publishing.

Le Bruit du Monde—loosely translated as Sounding the World—will be an imprint of the Editis group, but Gracedieu and Servières will be shareholders. Editis “had considerable faith in us and in the future,” says Gracedieu, who will be establishing Le Bruit du Monde in Marseille.

Paris is France’s traditional publishing center, but in recent years publishing houses have been setting up outside the capital. The pioneer in this, of course, is Actes Sud, which was founded in the southern city of Arles in 1983.

Marseille played a central role in the couple’s project. As Gracedieu says, there were stepping-stones all along that led them to the city.

“I spent years taking care of collections at publishing houses and I wanted to put my energy into my own project. Marseille was the beating heart of our adventure. We both knew and loved Marseille before we met. On a professional level there’s such a cultural and artistic vibrancy and energy.”

Gracedieu mentions being very impressed by the four-year-old literary festival Oh les Beaux Jours, and by La Marelle, which had organized a writer’s residency for Jonathan Coe, her author at Gallimard. She notes that the Fondation Carmago in nearby Cassis also has residencies for international authors.

Gracedieu has always been passionate about international literature and has published authors including Sofi Oksanen, Taiye Selasi, Anna Hope, and Ocean Vuong But she’s also interested in francophone literature, and she intends to develop both interests as CEO of Le Bruit du Monde. Servières will head sales and marketing.

The project came together very quickly, says Gracedieu. Until November 2020, “Nothing had yet been decided.”

At Editis, CEO Michèle Benbunan and Jean Spiri, COO and head of literature, had wanted to work with Gracedieu and Servières, and were immediately open to the idea of a publishing house. Arnaud de Puyfontaine, chairman of Editis and its parent company Vivendi, gave it his blessing and Le Bruit du Monde was born.

‘I Want To Find Unique Voices’

In the port at Marseille. Image: Olivia Snaije

Asked if the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic had anything to do with the speedy decision, Gracedieu says, “The pandemic condensed everything.

“As soon as we got out of the first lockdown, we kept going to Marseille. Perhaps it was the desire to live somewhere inspiring.”Marie-Pierre Gracedieu

“As soon as we got out of the first lockdown” in May 2020, “we kept going to Marseille. Perhaps it was the desire to live somewhere inspiring. We were ready without knowing it.

“And later on, our meetings with Editis began in a dynamic mode, everything went very quickly, and we were able to put things together with strong support.”

Le Bruit du Monde will hire four people to join Gracedieu and Servières, who plan to release their first books in March 2022. Gracedieu says they’ll publish up to 20 books a year, primarily fiction, of which she estimates 60 percent will be translated literature. She’ll also be looking for literature in French from Africa, or Québec, she says, francophone voices that she has always believed in. “For sure I will be hunting on foreign territory.”

Last March, La Grenade was established as an imprint of JC Lattès seeking new voices from France but also from the francophone world, a trend that appears to be growing.

Gracedieu says she’s also interested in publishing narrative nonfiction. “I want to find unique voices,” she says. “A book gives you the possibility of better understanding what’s foreign to you, but it can also allow you to see differently what you think you know.”

She wonders if today it’s easier to publish less traditional authors. “I’m not sure. As a publisher you have to be more and more determined and give more and more time to each book.” She says she does think literature produced in France today is becoming increasingly interesting to international publishers.

And perhaps Le Bruit du Monde is a sign of post-pandemic times—a decentralization of traditional publishing centers to places that provide renewed inspiration.

MuCEM, left, the Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Meditrranean, stands in the old Port at Marseille, designed by architect Rudy Ricciotti and opened in 2013. Image: Olivia Snaije

More from Publishing Perspectives on the French market is here, and more on Gallimard is here.

More on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Olivia Snaije

Olivia Snaije is a journalist and editor based in Paris who writes about translation, literature, graphic novels, the Middle East, and multiculturalism. She is the author of three books and has contributed to newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, The Global Post, and The New York Times.