Publisher Focus:

Adam Freudenheim, Publisher and Managing Director of Pushkin Press, talks to NBG

Adam Freudenheim Photo: Philip
Pushkin Press seeks to discover the best stories for adults (and lately, for children as well) from all over the world, from modern classics to the urgent and contemporary. There has been a strong focus on translation from the very beginning of the press’s foundation in 1997, with a recent shift towards contemporary literature and to books from a wider variety of languages.

As Publisher and Managing Director, Adam Freudenheim is involved in every aspect of publishing at Pushkin, which includes commissioning and acquiring, editing, and working with designers and producers. He loves that he has a real overview of the entire publishing process. ‘I never know what a particular day will bring,’ says Freudenheim, ‘and I’m constantly discovering new writers – past and present – from all over the world. What a pleasure!’

Publishing in London
Since London is such a cosmopolitan city, Freudenheim constantly meets people from all over the world. Stephanie Seegmuller, who works with him very closely at Pushkin, is French. Their editor Gesche Ipsen is from Germany but also lived in Italy for a long time when she was growing up. ‘It’s a very international city and this certainly makes us more outwardly looking as a publisher,’ says Freudenheim.

Translated Literature in the UK
‘I’m pleased to say that I think Pushkin is part of a wider trend to publish more work in translation,’ says Freudenheim, ‘though our new children’s imprint Pushkin Children’s Books probably stands out more, as there’s very little interest in translation from most children’s publishers.’ Although translation is still a very small part of the overall market, it is nonetheless a growing area. Freudenheim thinks that it will continue to grow in the coming years: ‘Ultimately, readers don’t care what language a book was originally written in. They want to read great stories, wherever they may come from.’

Selecting New Titles
‘We have to feel that a given book is good and that we’re passionate about it,’ says Freudenheim. ‘Ours is a small list, so if we’re not passionate about our books, how can we convince reviewers, booksellers and ultimately readers to take the time to read them?’ The current retail environment has more effect on how Pushkin publish rather than what they publish. ‘We are trying to lead rather than follow the market,’ says Freudenheim.

Translators often also play a role in Pushkin’s selection process. The press is open to recommendations from translators, who on occasion pitch a book to them, accompanied by a sample translation, and convince them to publish it.

The Future
Pushkin Press have already published two dozen titles by Austrian author Stefan Zweig (1881 – 1942), who has developed a mainstream Englishlanguage following in recent years, and have two more in the pipeline. ‘We are far and away the leading publisher of Zweig in English, worldwide,’ says Freudenheim. In 2015, Pushkin is publishing a new translation of Ulrich Plenzdorf’s Die neuen Leiden des Jungen W (tr. Romy Fursland) as well as the first English translation of Maxim Biller’s recent Im Kopf von Bruno Schulz (tr. Anthea Bell). They will also be publishing Arthur Schnitzler’s recently rediscovered novella Später Ruhm. In 2016, they’ll be publishing Wolfgang Herrndorf’s Sand and Saša Stanišić’s Vor dem Fest. On the children’s front, later this year they publish new translations by Anthea Bell of Erich Kästner’s Das fliegende Klassenzimmer and Das doppelte Lottchen, followed by Pünktchen und Anton next year.
Interview with Tyler Langendorfer