Things have been busy at Portobello Books. The young indie will turn thirteen this year, and what a decade-plus it’s been. Their staff acquisitioned A-list catalogs, added to their international literary prize lists, and adopted sister imprints, Granta Books and Granta Magazine, all since opening its doors in 2005.
Through the press continues to develop broader interests, the Portobello Books staff remains steadfast in their investment in English-language translations. Their catalogs are brimming with acclaimed fiction from six of the seven continents (“our search in Antarctica continues”). Read their “Prize News” page to see just how many Portobello Books translations are winning global attention.
Portobello Books’ “About” page states that the press “is home to some of the most celebrated writers from around the world”. It’s undeniable that this taste-making London publisher has introduced English-reading audiences to dozens of best-selling global authors: Jenny Erpenbeck, Han Kang, Hiromi Kawakami, and Herta Müller call Portobello Books home. Even English-language debuts, such as Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, can find international notoriety with Portobello Books supporting their work.
My favorite English-language debut from Portobello Books was written by Andrés Barba and translated by Lisa Dillman. What can I say about Barba’s Such Small Hands without spoiling the plot? Just four things:
- I murmured, “Oh no…” aloud as I read the final paragraph.
- The story left me gut-punched, but eager to reread it as soon as I laid it down.
- This one hundred and twelve page book is a master class in building the slowest and surest dread.
- Barba’s style is compared to iconic writers of suspense “Daphne du Maurier, Shirley Jackson, Guillermo Del Toro, and Mariana Enríquez”—an apt comparison in my Shirley Jackson-loving opinion.
Dark, impactful, and brilliantly concise, Such Small Hands is an exercise in anticipation, an incremental burn that steals your breath on the very last page.
A short sample of Portobello Press’ mission statement is provided below.
Portobello Books is one of Britain’s younger independent publishing imprints, but since its launch in 2005, we have won a strong reputation for quality, integrity, originality and individuality in our publishing. We publish about ten new books each year, with a particular focus on issue-driven non-fiction that ranges from investigative journalism, reportage, politics and narrative history, to travel writing and memoir. The other key strand of our list is fiction in translation, and Portobello is home to some of the most celebrated writers from around the world.
Please click here to read the publisher’s statement in its entirety.
By Chelsey Slattum