In 2006 Comma Press announced the launch of a new translation imprint dedicated to delivering the best in contemporary short fiction, as part of Comma's on-going commitment to the short story as a unique and divergent literary form.
With support from Arts Council England, the new imprint began with four anthologies showcasing a cross-section of stories from around Europe and the Middle East. The first of this anthology series, Decapolis: Tales from Ten Cities was published in 2006 year, as a pilot edition, and was followed in Oct 07 by a second, Elsewhere: Stories from Small Town Europe, featuring Ingo Schulze (Germany), Frode Grytten (Norway), Jean Sprackland (UK) and many others.
In 2008 these were followed by ReBerth, a port cities anthology, looking at six cities around Europe, produced in conjunction with Liverpool's Capital of Culure year, and Madinah, a compendium of contemporary Middle Eastern short stories, edited by the Lebanese poet and critic Joumana Haddad.
The former was also launched in conjunction with a student creative writing and translation pilot scheme. More here.
In 2010 we launched our first 'single city' translation anthology, The Book of Istanbul, featuring translations of short stories by ten of the city's most vibrant authors, as part of Comma's wider 'Book of the City' series.
As well as the anthologies, in 2008 Comma launched four single-author collections from European short story practitioners, with assistance from the European Culture Programme. In 2009 with support from English PEN, Comma launched its first single author collection from the Middle East, Hassan Blasim's The Madman of Freedom Square. And in 2011 we published a further four collections translated from other European languages.
The first nine translated single-author collections so far are:
Twice in a Lifetime
by Agust Borgthor Sverrisson
Translated from the Icelandic by Mara Helga Gumundsdttir and Anna Benassi.
It Was Just, Yesterday
by Mirja Unge
Translated from the Swedish by Kari Dickson.
On Flying Objects
by Emil Hakl
Translated from the Czech by Karren Repin & Petr Kopet.
The Last Tram
by Nedim Gursel
Translated from the Turkish by Ruth Whitehouse.
The Madman of Freedom Square
by Hassan Blasim
*LONG-LISTED FOR THE INDEPENDENT FOREIGN FICTION PRIZE*
Translated from the Arabic by Jonathan Wright.
by Maike Wetzel
Translated from the German by Lyn Marven.
I Love You When I'm Drunk
by Empar Moliner
Translated from the Catalan by Peter Bush.
by Gyrdir Eliasson
Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb.
by Arnon Grunberg
Translated from the Dutch by Ron de Klerk & Lisa Friedman.
The aim of the imprint will be to explore both the short storys family resemblances and its idiosyncrasies across cultures, whilst benefiting from its unique cultural moveability. As a form grounded in the fleeting, the momentary and the singular, the short story lends itself as well as any literary form to translation, being rooted despite its modern reinventions in the mobility of the oral tradition. Comma Translation will be committed to developing a resolutely contemporary list from the outset, with the aim of keeping the cultural exchange fresh, vital and relevant. All publications will be accompanied by author tours, discussions and innovative live readings (with authors reading in the original against projected English surtitles).
Imprint editor Maria Crossan says, The establishment of this imprint gives Comma a great opportunity to inject some much-needed energy into UK readers experience of literature in translation, and equally to enrich and give context to the current short fiction scene in this country. It also allows us to build bridges between writers and readers, and start from the common ground that is the short story itself.
Decapolis: Tales from Ten Cities the imprints pilot project was championed for bringing some fresh and varied new literary voices in European short fiction to UK readers (Independent on Sunday). A Radio 3 discussion prompted by the publication praised the stall Comma had already set out for the European Short Story as a concept, distinct from the more recognizable American Short Story, concluding the former is obviously in vigorous form (Matthew Sweet, Nightwaves, R3). A.S. Byatt in The Times commended the way the stories in this pilot project brought forward the history of the many cities represented, as opposed to the domestic nihilism of the Carver model: Europe is heavy with history and the trace left by cataclysm and upheaval, she observed. These are present in these tales, and yet coexist with a kind of wry and knowing playfulness.
For more information on Comma's Translation Policy (useful for translators) click here.