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The Background to New Books in German

New Books in German is a twice yearly journal aimed at busy editors in the UK, the USA, and increasingly those in other countries, who would like to publish more translations but would also appreciate independent help in finding the right titles from among the thousands published each year in the German language: the Spring Issue is published in time for the London Book Fair, while the Autumn issue appears at the time of the Frankfurt Book Fair.

In addition, the journal is sent to translators, to literary critics, to booksellers, to German departments in universities, to libraries and to others who have expressed interest in reading German-language literature. More than four thousand five hundred copies of the journal are distributed throughout the world from the central mailing list in London as well as by the Goethe-Institut, the Austrian, German and Swiss Embassies, the International Division of the Frankfurt Book Fair and the German Book Office in New York.

The initiative for New Books in German came from a seminar held in London in May 1996 at which representatives from many branches of the book trade met to discuss why relatively few books are translated from German into English. It was felt that readers of English were not being given access to some of the best books in a variety of fields and for a variety of reasons. A steering committee was set up to hold further discussions and to launch a journal, with members now drawn from the British Centre for Literary Translation, the Austrian Cultural Forum (formerly Institute), German and Swiss Embassies, the Goethe-Institut, the Frankfurt Book Fair as well as our two editorial consultants. Editorial advisers are brought in for each issue, including a literary agent, a publisher, a translator and a bookseller, as are experienced readers to provide preliminary book reports. Some of the original founding members are still involved. As well as book reviews we publish features on aspects of the publishing scenes in the respective countries, portraits of authors, the experiences of those working creatively with German in their professional lives here, and news about literary festivals and other events.

Financial and moral support for New Books in German is provided by the Foreign Ministries of Austria, Germany and Switzerland, Pro Helvetia (Arts Council of Switzerland), the Goethe-Institut in Munich and London, the German Book Office in New York, the International Division of the Frankfurt Book Fair and the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels. In addition, once a book has been chosen independently by the Editorial Committee, its German publishers make a fixed contribution to the journal’s costs. We are grateful to all these supporters, and also to the organisations represented on the Steering Committee, for their continued assistance. There is more information about all those who support NBG under Sponsors.

A more recent development, one we are delighted about as it opens up a whole new potential readership and market, is that a Spanish version of all the reviews and relevant features exists online. We thank our colleagues in the Madrid office of the Goethe-Institut for their excellent work. Also a selection of reviews from each issue is available as a newsletter in Italian: we thank our colleagues in the Rome office of the Goethe-Institut for this initiative.

The Selection Process

The selection processfor books that we review in NBG is entirelyindependent.

For each issue, we start with approximately 150 titles. At our first editorial meeting we select around seventy of these to send to our experienced team of reviewers.

Our reviewers are translators, academics, editors and agents – all extremely well-read and with a good feel for the market.

At our second editorial meeting, our committee discusses the reviews and selects approximately 30 titles for the issue.

Our Editorial Committee comprises some regular members – translators Anthea Bell and Shaun Whiteside, agent Tanja Howarth, bookseller Jonathan Ruppin of Foyles – as well as representatives from the Austrian, German and Swiss cultural institutes in London.

Different guest members are invited to join the committee each time, and include publishers, literary agents, booksellers and translators.

We have juries in both London and the United States. The American jury consists of literary scouts, editors, critics and booksellers, as well members of the German Book Office and Goethe-Institut in New York.

Our only guiding principle when selecting the books is quality: we are looking for outstanding works and voices, books which should have a chance even in the tricky British and American market and internationally.

All fiction books featured in New Books in German and bought by an English-language publisher are guaranteed a grant. Non-Fiction books by German and Swiss authors are guaranteed a grant

If you would be interested in finding out more about the background of the journal, or have questions about its work today and its ideas for the future, please contact the editor at:

Further information about the journal can be found in the Press section under News.

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