This Folio Life: You Publish That?
The first question I am often asked is how we choose the books we publish. Our list as it stands today, in 2016, is as diverse as it has ever been: our two runaway successes of the last year were Frank Herbert’s Dune (a book – whisper it – not to be found in the London Library Catalogue) and Jaques Barzun’s From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life (not only in the Library’s catalogue, but on almost constant loan). How does one publisher marry these two poles: fiction / non-fiction; cultist / intellectual; populist / ‘high-brow’? All I can say is that the marriage happens in the minds of the editors - these are books that we love, and connections we have ourselves found. Take two books I have really enjoyed working on so far this year. The first is a selection of the poems of Anna Akhmatova, a poet I have admired, along with her compatriot and collaborator Osip Mandelstam, since my schooldays when I was first introduced to the world of Russian literature by a particularly brilliant teacher. She is fierce, economical, soulful and necessary - and our edition, with its superb photography and moving introduction by Eimear McBride, is not just a fitting elegy, but a reminder of why we must read her. On the other hand – at least for some! – the second book which has my publishing blood flowing is Terry Pratchett’s Mort. In an interview for The Monocle Weekly podcast last week I inadvertently mentioned that we have a new edition of this coming out this month. Pratchett is to my mind one of the great comic writers of the twentieth century, with a humanising wit and a vast imagination. Yet he writes fantasy. So, again, not to be found in the hallowed gantries of the London Library! Pratchett got me through an odd six months living in Guildford and commuting to Greenwich at 5am; Akhmatova opened my eyes to the possibilities of poetry as a response to the horrors of the world. Both, to my mind, are necessary reads. Tom Walker Editorial Director, 4 May 2016