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.