Tuesday 12 November 2013

RIP Ignat Avsey

We are saddened to hear that Ignat Avsey – translator of many books for us and for other publishers, including Angel Books, Oxford University Press, Penguin Books and Pushkin Press – passed away last night at the Northwick Park Hospital after a short illness.

We are proud to be the publisher of some of his translations, which include Dostoevsky’s Humiliated and Insulted and The Idiot, as well as a forthcoming novel by Dmitry Merezhkovsky’s, Leonardo.

I am glad I was able to meet him a few times over the past few months, and I am keen to ensure that his literary legacy – as a translator and promoter of Russian and German literature – remains well alive within our list.

Our thoughts and our deepest condolences go to Ignat’s family at this time of mourning.

Alessandro Gallenzi

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Pushkin Hills at Pushkin House

From left to right: Katherine Dovlatov, A.D. Miller and Zinovy Zinik at Pushkin House last night, celebrating the launch of Katherine Dovlatov's translation of Pushkin Hills, written by her father Sergei Dovlatov and available now for the first time in English.

It was a wonderful occupation - absorbing and informative - and well attended, thank you to Pushkin House for hosting the event and to the three panelists for their insightful discussion.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

Secret Leopardi - Event at the Italian Cultural Institute

Having published Canti by Giacomo Leopardi ourselves we are always interested in reading other translations of Leopardi's work, so tomorrow's event at the Italian Cultural Institute (39 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8NX) should to be quite interesting.  For anyone interested in Leopardi or italian literature in general come tomorrow 17th October at 6:30pm, free event but booking essential, see description below:


Under the supervision of Franco D’Intino and Michael Caesar, Penguin publishes the first integral English translation of Giacomo Leopardi’s Zibaldone, the collection of notes written by the poet between 1817 and 1832.

The result of an impressive effort by the researchers, this work includes critical and philological parts, notes and a detailed introduction. 

Critically acclaimed, the translation will be presented at the Italian Cultural Institute by the curators, Professors Franco D’Intino and Michael Caesar, together with Professor Susan Bassnett.
Writer Elisabetta Rasy, within the series Writers in Residence, will read from the book and chair the event.'

Click here to book online

Friday 13 September 2013

Morrissey book 'cancelled'

According to the Bookseller, the publication of Morrissey's autobiography has been cancelled after a last-minute disagreement between the singer and Penguin. It seems the singer wanted his 600 page work to be published as a Penguin Classics.

The publishers of Alma Classics, Alessandro Gallenzi and Elisabetta Minervini would love to take this project on and incorporate it into our Alma Classics list. Having exchanged Morrissey tapes when they were young lovebirds and been dedicated fans for the past 25 years, this book would be a joy to work on and as an important account of music history we feel it deserves a place alongside the classics.

Read the full report from the Bookseller: http://www.thebookseller.com/news/morrissey-book-cancelled.html

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Independent Foreign Fiction Prize

A splendid night at the Royal Institute of British Architects for the annual Taittinger-lubricated celebration of fiction in translation. It was good to catch up with so many friends and take bets on the potential winner. Bill Swainson of Bloomsbury was right in tipping The Detour as the dark horse of the competition – I thought the prize would be a close race between Pushkin Press' The Traveller of the Century by Andrés Neuman or Maclehose Press' Trieste by Daša Drndić (I hope the accents come out OK). We also had a book in the shortlist – Bundu by Chris Barnard – but having won last year, we weren't very hopeful of a new success and were secretly cheering Pushkin's book alongside ours.

When they began to describe the winner, all the contenders thought they'd won: "It's a lyrical book… beautifully written… perfectly translated… a love story… a quest… an escape…" That wise man, François von Hurter of Bitter Lemon Press, who was standing next to us, rightly said: "Every cliché applies to every book – because all books are clichéd."

In the end, as I said, it was a bit of a surprise when the winner (a deserved one, I am sure) was declared to be The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker (translated from the Dutch by David Colmer). The author's and translator's speeches were sweet and I am sure their nerves eased once they got off the podium and toasted their success with more champagne. 

Here I am with our author Elaine Feinstein in front of the podium. Tonight is the Man Book International Award ceremony, and we'll be there to cheer our shortlisted author, Aharon Appelfeld – and catch up with some other friends over a glass or two of bubbly.


Friday 17 May 2013

The Old Library

I was invited, courtesy of our music editor Gary Kahn, to Trinity College, Oxford, for a tour of the Old Library – which, apparently, has even its own ghost: John Henry Newman. The place is rich with literary associations – Dr Johnson, for example, used to study there.

There are hundreds of fabulous books there, and I'd have been happy to be locked in for a week or two so that I could browse them at leisure. The section I liked the most was the first-editions one. Here I am holding the first volume of the first edition of Pride and Prejudice, first published 200 years ago, in 1813.

But for me the real gems were the first editions of Milton's Paradise Lost, George Eliot's Middlemarch (four green volumes, left in the following picture) and Fielding's Tom Jones (six brown volumes, right). Thanks to Sharon, the Librarian, for showing us around.

A short stroll from Trinity is the Blackwell's bookshop in Broad Street. Alma is well represented throughout, and there's plenty of beautiful modern books on display, including the six titles from our splendid Fitzgerald series.

No trace of ebooks there, thank God. The physical book is still going strong in Oxford, even among students.


Wednesday 15 May 2013

Congratulatory Messages

Over the past twenty-four hours we have been overwhelmed with congratulatory messages – we had no idea we had so many friends! We are sorry if we were not able to reply to all them personally, but rest assured that they did reach us and they mean a lot to us.
Thanks again to everyone for your warm support,
Alessandro, Elisabetta and the rest of the team Alma

Photo left to right: Alessandro Gallenzi, Elisabetta Minervini, Ion Trewin and Simon Evans. (Photo credit: Leo Wilkinson)

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Alma Books winner of the Independent Publisher of the Year 2013

Winner – Independent Publisher of the Year

It was a huge surprise to win Independent Publisher of the Year and we are delighted to have taken home the bacon at the third time of asking! It's a classic case of third-time lucky.

We would like to thank the judges of the prize, all our authors and translators, as well as all the booksellers, agents and readers who have been supporting us over the years.

A special thanks goes to Bloomsbury Publishing Plc and Macmillan Distribution Services for selling and distributing our titles, the CPI Group for printing all our books to such a high standard of quality, and all national and international reps and agents for their passion and continued support.

Monday 22 April 2013

Bestseller in Spanish

Bestseller was launched in Spanish two weeks ago. My wonderful publisher Alba Editorial invited me to a series of interviews and a lovely launch at La Central, where I had the honour to be introduced by the legendary Spanish publisher Jorge Herralde, founder of Anagrama. There was a good crowd – it was a good opportunity to see many of my Spanish friends – and I left with a feeling that, despite the ongoing world financial crisis, the Spanish literary scene is more vibrant than the English one at the moment. I'd like to thank my publisher, Idoia Moll, my editor María Tena, my translator Laura Vidal, my interpreter Kate Wilson and the rest of the team at Alba for their wonderful work. I feel I am in excellent hands in Spain.

There have been a number of reviews of Bestseller in Spanish and Catalan – if you are interested you can find most of them online.

You can see myself on the left, with Jorge Herralde in the centre and María Tena on the right.

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Launch party for The Art of Leaving

Great launch party last night at The Society Club in Soho celebrating the recent publication of The Art of Leaving. Above author Anna Stothard and Alma publisher Alessandro Gallenzi.

Friday 15 March 2013

Bookseller Industry Awards Shortlist

We are delighted to announce that Alma Books has been shortlisted for two of the Bookseller Industry Awards.

The first category is Independent Publisher of the Year, and the second is Imprint and Editor of the Year, with our publisher Alessandro Gallenzi flying the flag for independent publishers, against competition from the top four publishing groups in the UK: Viking (Penguin), Fourth Estate (HarperCollins), Arrow and Yellow Jersey Press (Random House) and Weidenfeld & Nicolson and Hodder & Stoughton (Hachette).

Fingers crossed - and a big thank you for your continued support.

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Bloomsbury After-Party

Elisabetta and Alessandro enjoying a bit of bubbly with Trilby Kent at the Bloomsbury offices in Bedford Square after presenting the Autumn 2013 titles to the Bloomsbury reps.

Wednesday 13 February 2013

Shortlisted for the IPG Trade Publisher of the Year Award 2013

Dear Friends,

We are delighted to announce that Alma Books has been shortlisted for the IPG Trade Publisher of the Year Award 2013.

It is a shortlist of three, and in the running are also Constable & Robinson (who won in 2012) and John Blake Publishing (who won in 2010). The winner will be announced at the IPG Conference Gala Dinner on 7th March 2013.  Alma was already shortlisted for the award in 2011.

Here is the judges’ comments on our shortlist:

“Alma Books is shortlisted on the back of a year of commercial print success, exponential ebook sales growth and substantial critical acclaim. Judges admired its commitment to translated fiction and outstanding website, plus its instinct for picking up little-heard-of authors who are likely to appeal in the UK. ‘Alma is a small independent publisher with no obvious weak spots. It is finding authors and books in a way most other publishers are not.’ ”

Fingers crossed and, as ever, thank you for your support (and all your emails this morning).

Elisabetta Minervini and Alessandro Gallenzi

Tuesday 5 February 2013

The Rediscovered Skeleton

I was reading Belli's sonnets yesterday and I found this gem (Sonnet No. 1010). I couldn't resist translating it because of the topicality of the subject (the digging-up of Richard III's bones).

1010. The rediscovered skeleton

What a spectacle – dear God – what a spectacle!
Only today you see this kind of thing!
People bothering so much about
four paltry fleshless and skinless bones!

And you hear this sing-song all the time:
“It’s him – it’s not him – they’re his – no, they’re not –
it’s Raphael – no, it’s not Raphael…
and the Pantheon bursts with people every day.

Of course this is something very important,
because there’s such a shortage of bones in Rome, isn’t there,
in all its twenty or thirty graveyards!

You find a skeleton in dug-up ground?
Well, then, without being so solemn about it,
just chuck it back into its grave.

[Translated by Alessandro Gallenzi]

1st November 1833 (All Souls’ Day)

This poem was written by the Romanesco poet Giuseppe Gioachino Belli (1791–1863) on the discovery of bones – purported to be those of Raffaello Sanzio – in the Pantheon.

Original 1010. Er corpo aritrovato *

È una sscèna, per dio, propio una sscèna.
Ma ttutte ar tempo mio s’ha da vedelle!
Pe quattr’ossacce senza carn’e ppelle
s’ha da pijjà la ggente tanta pena!

E ttutti fanno sta cantasilèna: 1
È llui: nun è: ssò cquelle: nun zò cquelle:
è Rraffaelle: nun è Rraffaelle...
E ttutt’er giorno la Ritonna 2 è ppiena.

Certo, nun dubbità, ssò ccasi serj!
Come c’a Rroma sciamancassin’ossa 3
tramezz’a un venti o un trenta scimiteri!

Trovi uno schertro 4 in de la terra smossa?
Ebbè, ssenza de fà ttanti misteri,
aribbuttelo drento in de la fossa.

1° novembre 1833

* Le ossa di Raffaele Sanzio. 1 Cantilena. 2 Rotonda. 3 Ci mancassero ossa. 4 Scheletro.

At the Savile Club with Anne Sebba

Greatly enjoyed Anne Sebba's talk a couple of weeks ago at the Savile Club. Her latest book That Woman follows the life of Wallis Simpson. The suave man on the right is Alan Williams, the chairman of the Whitefriars Dining Club, one of the oldest dining – if not the oldest – clubs in the UK.

Friday 18 January 2013

In the News

Alessandro Gallenzi with Sir Trevor McDonald and Prof Ian Bruce (new Chairman of the Richmond Society) at yesterday's talk by Sir Trevor at a packed Duke Street Church in Richmond, the first in a series of talks organized by the Richmond Society.

It was a delightful occasion, and the talk was interesting and insightful. It was also good to catch up with some other illustrious residents, such as Clive Bradley and our Alma author Robert Chesshyre.
Photo (c) Jeremy Rodell

Tuesday 8 January 2013

60th-Anniversary of Diogenes

Alessandro trying to persuade an unconvinced Donna Léon that the publishing world is not doomed. Anthony McCarten listens attentively behind his shoulders while sipping excellent champagne offered by Diogenes during their lavish 60th-Anniversary party at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Photo courtesy of Diogenes.