Wednesday 28 January 2015

Turning the Page at Esplanade

When Esplanade Books relaunches this spring, Véhicule Press’s fiction imprint will be publishing more authors under a wider mandate. For the past year, new Esplanade editor Dimitri Nasrallah and co-publisher Simon Dardick have been working to curate a list that aptly represents the imprint’s revitalized vision.  This new list represents a clean start for Esplanade’s second decade, balancing fearless debuts and internationally lauded authors as it straddles Canada’s two official languages.

We’re honoured to be publishing the first collection of stories by Croatian writer Josip Novakovich since he was named finalist for the 2013 Man Booker International Prize and became a Canadian citizen. Heralded by the Kirkus Review as “the best American short-story writer of the decade”, Novakovich arrives at Esplanade with a formidable international reputation already in hand, but no Canadian publication record to match. Novakovich’s first Esplanade title, Ex-Yu, will appear this fall. A second collection is due in 2017.

Novakovich is in the good company of Québécois writer Éric Plamondon. Author of the 1984 Trilogy, which includes the novels Hungary-Hollywood Express, Mayonnaise, and Apple S, this contemporary Québécois classic offers a wildly experimental look back at the twentieth century through the lens of Tarzan actor Johnny Weissmuller, counter-culture author Richard Brautigan, and Apple mastermind Steve Jobs respectively. The translations are being undertaken by Esplanade editor Dimitri Nasrallah and will be published between 2016 and 2018.

Plamondon was first published by the innovative Quebec house Le Quartanier, with whom we’ve cultivated a productive working relationship that has also resulted in the acquisition of Geneviève Pettersen’s runaway bestseller, The Goddess of Fireflies, which has been all the rage in Quebec since it was first published last spring. Neil Smith, author of Boo! and Bang Crunch, is translating Fireflies for publication in 2016. Both Pettersen’s and Plamondon’s novels represent a new pursuit for Esplanade: giving Quebec’s English writers the opportunity to translate the French-language novels to which they feel a deep kinship.

We’ll be kicking off the new Esplanade list with Toronto author Andy Sinclair’s first novel, Breathing Lessons, a deeply provocative and powerful exploration of what modern life can be like for gay men.  Canada Reads finalist Angie Abdou writes, “I’m not exaggerating when I say that Andy Sinclair is doing something no other Canadian writer has done, possibly something no other Canadian writer has dared to do,” while Giller Prize finalist Marina Endicott writes, “Sinclair’s ferocious and straightforward prose bares a broken, still-open heart searching for something better.”

Sinclair’s debut will be followed by Montreal writer Anita Anand’s first collection of stories, Swing in the House. Anand paints a devastating portrait of Canadian families in their most private moments. She pulls back the curtains to reveal the unspoken complexities within the modern home, from sibling rivalries to fracturing marriages, casual racism to damaged egos.

Our 2015 list rounds out with Sheila Fischman’s translation of Jacques Poulin’s brilliant novella, English Is Not a Magic Language.  Best known to English readers as the author of the classic Volkswagen Blues, which was a finalist for the 2005 edition of Canada Reads, Poulin is enjoying something of a revival lately, having had three of his last English translations published by the esteemed American house, Archipelago Books.

Dimitri Nasrallah
Editor, Esplanade Books

No comments: