By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
Linden Editions: ‘The Seeds of Internationalism’It’s not every day that a literary agent tells you she’s opening a publishing house. But that’s the case today (October 12), with a message from one of the best-known regulars in Frankfurter Buchmesse‘s (October 18 to 22) sold-out Literary Agents and Scouts Center, the “LitAg.”
Nermin Mollaoğlu—who tells Publishing Perspectives that her Kalem Agency in Istanbul now has 13 team members—is working with Tasja Dorkofikis and Geraldine D’Amico to establish Linden Editions in London, a publishing house with a mission to promote translation, internationalism, and “cross-cultural understanding.”
“It came out of our joint desire to publish outstanding literary works of fiction, narrative nonfiction, reportage, and essays, as well as some modern classics primarily in translation from Europe, the francophone world, and the Mediterranean region.”
In an exchange with us today, Mollaoğlu says, “I will definitely go on with Kalem. I love working as an agent.”
But the new press, she says, “will give me more opportunity to try another side of agenting, as we’ll buy some titles for the world rights and I’ll be selling them to the world, as well.”
Dorkofikis has worked at publishing companies including Random House–where she was the divisional publicity director for Jonathan Cape; Chatto & Windus; and Vintage. At Portobello Books, she worked as associate publisher.
She’s currently programming Vera Michalski’s Bibliotopia festival at the Jan Michalski Foundation at Montricher. Of Polish and Greek extraction, she has a special interest in translation.
D’Amico was born in Paris, the child of East European parents, and studied English. She married a Sicilian and has lived in Boston, Milan, and London, settling eventually in Chamonix.
After several years as the cultural attaché with the French Institute in the UK, she worked at Random House and then ran Jewish Book Week in London and Folkestone Book Festival. Nature is a great concern for her, including climate change.
And the Bulgarian-born Mollaoğlu was at a publisher as a rights coordinator, Turkey’s YKY, before setting up Kalem in 2005-2006 when, she has said, there were fewer than 300 Turkish books being read in other languages.
Over the years, she says, she has made more than 4,000 deals in 64 languages, winning the London Book Fair International Excellence Award in 2017.
She and her husband, Mehmet Demirtaş founded the Istanbul International Literature Festival in 2009 and their writers’ and translators’ residence program at Yalova.
‘Challenging the Kind of Nationalism I’ve Seen’
It’s at Kalem House that the garden’s lindens include some trees more than 100 years old. The new press’ name, Mollaoğlu tells us has something to do with how with the fact that linden trees are found in so many parts of the world, and these three associates share a fondness for “living and working internationally and a mixture of cultures, identities, and traditions.
“While governments around the world try to control how we behave and what we call each other, Linden Editions will promote cross-cultural understanding.”Nermin Mollaoğlu
“We speak many languages between us,” the three say in a statement, “and intend to use this access to world literature to our best advantage. We believe that there are countless books that merit international exposure: books which tell compelling stories; books which bring fresh, unforgettable voices; and books which are urgent, challenging, and committed.
“We believe that literature can build bridges between people, and open minds and borders.”
Lindens are often planted in village squares, the trio points out, while some cultures see the tree as sacred, with its honeysuckle-like scent and tea, which some see as medicinal.
“In my native Turkey,” Mollaoğlu says, “a literary agent’s job is much more than just making deals. It’s also a healing role.
“While governments around the world try to control how we behave and what we call each other, Linden Editions will promote cross-cultural understanding. I’m excited to promote literary voices from all over the world. By challenging the kind of nationalism that I have seen in Turkey, our tree will bear fruit.”
The new press initially is announcing two acquisitions:
Not There by the Polish writer Mariusz Szczygiel. The team describes it as “a collection of literary essays about loss and grief,” and have chosen UK-based Antonia Lloyd-Jones as the project’s translator, with the book anticipated for publication late in 2025. “Not There is about ordinary people and the things that have happened to them,” Lloyd-Jones says, “and it’s impossible for the reader not to share the emotions underlying the stories as they prompt us to think of our own losses, and our compensations. It’s also about how we remember things–unreliably on the whole–and how our idea of the truth may be a very personal one.”
- And In Late Summer is by Magdalena Blažević. It’s described by the Linden Editions trio as “a powerful antiwar novel set in Croatia in Kiseljak 1993, translated by Anđelka Raguž for a projected publication in 2024.
And “just like the seeds spread by linden trees,” the three partners say in their note, “we hope our books will spread the seeds of internationalism further.”
At Frankfurt next week, Mollaoğlu’s Kalem Agency will be in Hall 6.2 in the LitAg.