Publisher Spotlight: Europa Editions

Sacred Darkness

How does one properly introduce a publisher with a far-reaching reputation for excellence like Europa Editions?

In 2013, Europa Editions co-founder Sandro Ferri told an Italian media source that the press was “born with the intention to create bridges between cultures.” This concise mission statement is more than aspirational: it’s Europa’s modus operandi, one that the editorial team has worked to embody since the press’ creation in 2005.

It’s safe to say that Europa Editions is an ambitious publisher, especially considering the American market for English literary translations. When discussing the oft-quoted “three percent of all books published in America are translations” data point, Ferri told the New York Times that “I think that this is not a reason that it should always be like that.” In an effort to “bridge” that three percent gap, Europa Editions developed transcontinental literary connections between twenty-six countries and English-reading audiences. In addition, the editorial team cultivated geographically diverse acquisitions. Take a peek at this fantastic online infographic to better understand the extent of Europa Editions’ range of interest.

Europa Editions is special for many reasons. One is the scale of their annual production: The press publishes thirty-five books a year, a heavy schedule for most independent outfits, let alone one releasing international titles. Another is their unprecedented early success. (Remember the 2009 release of The Elegance of the Hedgehog, written by Muriel Barbery and translated from French by Alison Anderson?)

Elegance of the Hedgehog

One of the biggest ways the press stands out is in their manuscript selections. A browse through their catalog proves that Europa Editions is not afraid to represent eclectic reads. Consider the forthcoming novel Sacred Darkness, written by Levan Berdzenishvili and translated by Brian James Beer and Ellen Vayner (pub date: 2019). This Georgian novel blends fact and fiction to share the stories of “intellectuals, professionals, citizens of all walks of life” who are imprisoned toward the end of the Soviet Union’s reign.

Despite the characters’ dire circumstances, Sacred Darkness is less about the traumas of confinement and more about the unexpected bonds that form as the protagonist—also named Berdzenishvili—gets to know his fellow inmates. Two more surprises are the story’s format, which gives a chapter to each of the prisoners Berdzenishvili meets, and the amount of humor present throughout the story. As the subtitle states, it’s “the only book on the Soviet gulags that’s impossible to read without laughing.”

Find more information about Europa Editions on their in-depth About page. The introductory paragraph is excerpted below:

Europa Editions is an independent publisher of quality fiction. The company was founded in 2005 by Sandro Ferri and Sandra Ozzola Ferri, who are also the owners and publishers of the Italian press, Edizioni E/O. The idea behind the creation of Europa Editions was to capitalize on Edizioni E/O’s deep roots in European publishing to bring fresh international voices to the American and British markets and to provide quality editions that have a distinct look and consistently high levels of editorial standards. The Europa catalog is eclectic, reflecting the founders’ belief that dialogue between nations and cultures is of vital importance and that this exchange is facilitated by literature chosen not only for its ability to entertain and fascinate but also to inform and enlighten.

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By Chelsey Slattum

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