As I was doing research for this month of Baltic appreciation by talking to people in the industry and looking at publishers there was a particular line that caught my eye in regards to The Emma Press’ story. They mentioned that much of their exploration into the area of Baltic literature (they have published and translated from both Latvian and Lithuanian) was thanks to grants offered by the respective countries endowments for the arts.
In addition to bringing back memories of the deliciously corny The Lion the Witch and the Warbdrobe television adaptation from 1988 (which always prefaced the program with a nod to a similar endowment) The Emma Press’ nod to the grants also brought to view an interesting point—that the grant allowed the small, independent publisher to pursue avenues that otherwise would’ve been quite difficult. In particular in this article by thebookseller.com, Emma Wright (founder of The Emma Press) points to the Latvian Writers Union as having been helpful in learning about the process of producing translated books.
After checking out the Latvian Literature website, which is formed by the triumvirate of the Latvian Writers Union, Publishers Association, and the International Writers and Translators house, I was impressed by the clarity and transparency that they showed. Every single grant they had given out since 2016 was on their website—including some works that I referenced in my write up on The Emma Press here. After a bit of checking, sure enough there were comparable setups for Estonian and Lithuanian literature.
With the focus on the Baltic during the London Book Fair, now’s a good time to take a look at the possibilities offered by these endowments. There is genuine commitment behind these websites and grants, a hunger for the world to share in the culture of these unique places. Give these sites a look over if you’re a publisher or a translator. Maybe you’ll find something that you fall in love with.