Although they’ve only published one book so far — Leo Tolstoy’s How Much Land Does a Man Need, translated from the Russian by Boris Dralyuk with a foreword by Brian Evenson — Calypso Editions looks like a press worth paying attention to. Here’s how Elizabeth Myhr & Piotr Florczyk describe their mission and sensibility:
You have by now no doubt experienced, in one way or another, the publishing world’s continuing decline and know that it’s losing its ability to enrich our culture and our lives. Maybe your favorite periodical recently went bankrupt, or your favorite publisher can no longer support authors whose work doesn’t bring in money. Maybe you’ve been so alienated by big publishing that you barely remember the days when you looked forward to the release of a new novel or book of poems.
We have a solution. Here at Calypso Editions we’ve decided to go a different direction. Forget the profit. Forget the celebrity. We know there is still plenty of room for authors and readers to form supportive and rewarding relationships with books and each other. We know our time calls for great authors and great literature, and we’ve decided to make that happen for you and for dedicated readers and writing communities across the nation.
What do we publish? What do Russian writer Leo Tolstoy and Polish poet Anna Swir have in common? They are both great authors whose works have been embraced by the likes of Nobel Prize winners James Joyce and Czeslaw Milosz, and they also happen to be the authors of the first two titles forthcoming from Calypso Editions.
Available now for preorders, Leo Tolstoy’s How Much Land Does a Man Need, newly translated into English by Boris Dralyuk, will be Calypso Editions’ first title. It will be published on December 13, 2010. The editors at Calypso have worked hard to bring this new English version forward while honoring the integrity of the original Russian text. After a slew of bad translations, this new translation aims to reintroduce and reinvigorate this literary gem.
Anna Swir’s Building the Barricade and Other Poems, translated by Piotr Florczyk, is a bilingual collection of her most memorable poems. The collection includes poems from Swir’s experience of the tragic Warsaw Uprising of 1944, her preoccupations with the human body, and her experiences of love and family. Swir is a poet of profound wisdom and insight into the human condition, and we hope this new collection will ensure that her work continues to be celebrated by American and English-speaking readers everywhere. It will be published in March, 2011.1
In addition to the books themselves, Calpyso also has a blog. Not a ton of content yet, but I suspect it will grow over time as they start getting more attention, readers, etc. They did already get a great review over at the TLS by Tadzio Koelb that includes this quote:
“Joyce thought ‘How Much Land Does a Man Need the greatest story that the literature of the world knows,’ and there is little doubt that the folk tale as high art continues to have an enormous influence on contemporary writing, particularly in Eastern and Southern Europe. It would be hard to imagine Herta Müller or José Luís Peixoto without the “sense of community opinion” that Brian Evenson highlights in his informative short introduction. . . . It is hard to imagine any of the large publishers devoting this much time and space to a single short story, so we should be grateful to Calypso, a new press run collaboratively by writer and translators, for this excellent edition of a small but important work.
Also nice to find out about a new literary translation-centric press . . . The more the better . . .
1 I didn’t edit this note from them at all, but if I had, the first thing I would’ve done is delete all the double-spaces after periods!