• Tell us a little bit about your company and your work there!
I work at Suhrkamp Verlag, founded in 1950 by Peter Suhrkamp and directed for more than forty years by Siegfried Unseld. The independent publishing company now includes Insel Verlag (founded in Leipzig in 1899), the Jüdischer Verlag (Jewish Literature, founded in Berlin 1902), as well as the Deutscher Klassiker Verlag (German Classics), established in 1981, and the newly founded Verlag der Weltreligionen (World Religions, established in 2006). Suhrkamp focuses on both contemporary literature and the humanities. Its distinguished list of authors includes leading writers from Germany, Switzerland and Austria, besides major international authors of both fiction and non-fiction, including several Nobel Prize Winners.
I work as a senior editor for German (Robert Menasse, Anna Katharina Hahn etc.) and international literature, i.e. English, American (Rose Tremain, Louise Erdrich, Lisa Zeidner, Gideon Lewis-Kraus etc.), Scandinavian (Marie Hermanson, Anne Swärd, Erling Jepsen, Lars Mytting, Markus Nummi, Miina Supinen etc.) and Icelandic Literature (recently: Auður Ava Ólafsdottir, Solveig Jónsdóttir, Björg Magnúsdóttir).
• Who are the Icelandic authors that you publish. How were they received in your country?
We are very proud to publish Auður Ava Ólafsdottir, Sólveig Jónsdóttir, and we recently acquired the first two books by Björg Magnúsdóttir, which we plan to publish at Insel Verlag in 2016 (Nicht ganz mein Typ. – Ganz mein Typ).
• Do you have any favourite Icelandic author?
Of course. Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir. And Solveig Jónsdóttir. And Björg Magnúsdóttir. And beside these wonderful ladies: Sjón. And Halldór Laxness, of course, „father of all icelandic authors“. However I’m sure there will be more names on the list after my stay in Iceland.
• Have you been to Iceland before? What do you expect from your visit this year to the Literary Festival?
I have never been to Iceland before and I am really looking forward to visiting the country and to attending the famous festival in Reykjavík. I will travel in company (with my family) and do a little tour around the island before the festival starts to experience the landscape of Iceland and to get an idea of what my wonderful authors are writing about. I am also very excited to meet my authors (and their wonderful publishers). And of course, the international authors – and to communicate with colleagues from other countries.
• How do you see the situation of translated literature in your country?
We consider translated literature as a very important part of our list and we translate about 320 titles per year at Suhrkamp and Insel Verlag (both fiction and non-fiction). Among these are bestsellers like Isabel Allende, Gerbrand Bakker, Louis Begley, Lily Brett, Jaume Cabré, Teju Cole, Rose Tremain, Mario Vargas Llosa, Don Winslow.
We are not so much involved in the worldwide bestseller business with its commercial mass market titles. Suhrkamp is a synonym for literary quality whereas Insel slightly opens the door for more commercial entertainment and genre literature. But the interest in storytellers from the whole world is growing and so is our engagement for international literature (which has always been big).