Rights Edition: Canada’s Guernica Editions Acquires Ukrainian Author Ivan Baidak’s ‘(In)visible’

In News by Porter Anderson

The release in September from Guernica Editions will be the first English translation published of an Ivan Baidak novel.

At Sevastopol, March 25. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Elena Odareeva

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

Release date: September 15
As many Western publishing houses announce their plans to produce work from Ukraine during Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war of aggression against the country, a book originally published by Vivat Publishing in Kharkiv is set for a release in English on September 15.

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, Vivat Publishing, led by publisher Julia Orlova, is among Ukraine’s largest houses, and in April went into a bomb shelter to hold a launch party for a new translation by Serhiy Zhadan, who in late June won the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.

Vivat’s publication two years ago of Ivan Baidak’s (In)visible won a PEN Ukraine recognition in 2020.

Opened in 1978, Guernica Editions in Hamilton, Ontario, is named for the infamous site of the 1937 atrocity in Spain, when the city of Guernica was destroyed by air raids. The press has adopted the name “with the hope that the books we publish will make this world a better place in which to live and love.” The press is reported to have published more than 500 international titles, and its slogan is “No Borders, No Limits.”

Anna van Valkenburg is the company’s associate publisher, handling international rights. She tells Publishing Perspectives that Guernica’s release of (In)visible will mark the first English translation of any of Baidak’s books, which include the 2013 Personally Me, Personally You, a novel; several collections, including Role Plays (2014) and Alias; and two books that precede (In)visible from Vivat—Shadows of Our Meetings (2017) and The Man With My Name (2017).

Van Valkenburg says that to date the Polish rights for the book have also been sold.

While the images of the cover images of the forthcoming English release of (In)visible don’t appear to credit them, we’re told that the translators from Ukrainian of the book are Hanna Leliv and Isaac Wheeler.

(In)visible is a novel based on Baidak’s experience of having Tourette’s syndrome, with which he was diagnosed in his teens.

In the book, a 26-year-old freelance designer named Adam finds variously challenged friends at a social support group. Anna is a charity worker with a face hemangioma. Marta is a TV anchor with alopecia. And Eva is a makeup artist with vitiligo.

The title of the book refers to the kind of self-inflicted invisibility that many in Adam’s (and Baidak’s) position create for themselves, and the book is the story of Adam’s effort to “become visible.”

Baidak has lived and worked internationally, in countries including Poland, Austria, Mexico, and the United States. While Van Valkenburg says this is the first of his novels to be translated to English, some of his short work collections have been translated into English, German, Serbian, Polish, Spanish, and Italian.

Early this year, we’re told, Baidak left his home in Lviv and has been hosted by France’s Camargo Foundation in Cassis, and by the Slovenian Writers Association in Bled.

Van Valkenburg says that a portion of the proceeds from sales of (In)visible will go to the Help Heroes of Ukraine charity, which is based in the United States, in Carol Stream, Illinois.

From left are Ivan Baidak (image: Lesya Yasnitska); Hanna Leliv; and Isaac Wheeler

Follow our coverage of Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine and its impact on the country’s publishing players and international industry reactions. 

More from Publishing Perspectives on international rights is here, more on the Canadian publishing market is here, and more on translation issues and translators is here.

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

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson 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.com, 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.