Peirene was a Greek nymph who, as the myth goes, morphed into a spring and provided a stream of inspiration for the thirsty poets of Corinth. She’s the Muse-in-residence at Peirene Press, a rare gem of a publishing house and likewise a source of literary inspiration.
They publish only three titles a year and under exceptional specifications: each book must be under 200 pages long and be translated for the first time into English. The Times Literary Supplement describes their editions as ‘two-hour books to be devoured in a single sitting: literary cinema for those fatigued by film.’
Since 2012 they’ve supplemented their beautiful paperbacks with a classic tabloid publication. They’ve just printed their third issue, featuring interviews with film makers and authors, extracts of forthcoming books, and insight into the art of translation. Editor Clara Ministral tells us more:
Peirene is much more than a publisher. We are committed to spreading the passion for translated fiction in the English-speaking world (and its notoriously Anglocentric literary landscape) and to create a cohesive community of readers and booklovers. That’s why we run regular events where readers and writers can meet, such as supper clubs, literary salons, book clubs and pop-up stalls at outdoor markets and other unusual locations, and also why we publish our free literary newspaper.
The first issue of the annual Peirene newspaper was published in 2012 and it was not much more than a catalogue of our books. Two editions later, it has gone on to become a beautifully designed and carefully edited 32-page publication about foreign fiction featuring articles, interviews, book extracts, details about our titles and events, and interesting insights into the world of literature and translation and the inner workings of a small publishing house.
The newspaper is sent to bookshops, libraries, book bloggers and reviewers, Peirene readers and subscribers and many others, but most of the print run is distributed outside London Underground stations twice a month during the rush hour. We want to reach a wide audience and make foreign literature part of the everyday lives of London commuters, so come rain or shine, two Peirene Ladies stand outside tube stations on Monday mornings and make sure that people receive an unusual and thought-provoking read to accompany them on their journey to work!
If you missed the rush hour handouts, the latest issue of the Peirene newspaper is available online. Happy reading!