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Fitzcarraldo Editions, with Jacques Testard • #132

This episode is a celebration of the joy we find in Fitzcarraldo Editions, an independent publishing house that makes no concessions towards mass appeal but instead offers up books that are consistently ambitious, imaginative and innovative. Their hallmark is their plain typographic covers that allow the words inside to speak for themselves.

The editorial line maintained by publisher Jacques Testard since the beginning has reaped rewards and he now publishes four Nobel prizewinning authors as well as Booker International and Pulitzer prize winners and shortlistees. Not bad for a small publishing house that was started in 2014 on a tiny budget with just one employee, Jacques himself.

Listen in to hear the story of Fitzcarraldo – named after a film that celebrates a seemingly impossible endeavour – and how in only his second-ever Frankfurt book fair Jacques found himself negotiating a 12-way bidding war for the English-language rights to Secondhand Time by Nobel winner Sveltlana Alexievich.

And, because it’s us, we deep-dive into some of the books. What are our favourites? Which do we recommend? And why are they all so sad? Important questions, and we’re joined by Sam MacAuslan, keen Fitzcarraldo reader, to help answer them and uncover some particular gems from the list.

Like all good things, this episode has been a while in the making but with Fitzcarraldo recently celebrating publishing their 100th book it seemed the perfect time to release it out into the world, we hope you enjoy it, and feel inspired to try a Fitzcarraldo or two.

Book recommendations for Fitzcarraldo Editions episode

Things I Don’t Want to Know Deborah Levy

Attention: A Short History by Joshua Cohen

Limonov: The Outrageous Adventures by Emannuel Carrère

Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexievich (Bela Shayevich)

Minor Detail by Adania Shibley (Elizabeth Jaquette)

Fifty Sounds by Polly Barton

Flights by Olga Tocarczuk (Jennifer Croft)

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tocarczuk (Jennifer Croft)

The Books of Jacob by Olga Tocarczuk (Jennifer Croft)

Primeval and Other Times by Olga Tocarczuk (Antonia Lloyd Jones)

The Years by Annie Ernaux (Alison L. Strayer)

Exteriors by Annie Ernaux (Tanya Leslie)

Zone, Matthias Enard (Charlotte Mandell)

Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au

The Naked Don’t Fear the Water by Matthieu Aikins

Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor (Sophie Hughes)

Paradise by Fernanda Melchor (Sophie Hughes)

The Netanyahus, Joshua Cohen

Septology, Jon Fosse (Damion Searls)

Notes for Fitzcarraldo Editions episode

The film Fitzcarraldo by Werner Herzog

Deborah Levy interview in The White Review

New Directions in the US

Giramondo in Australia

Transcript of Fitzcarraldo Editions episode

[coming soon]

Further listening

In the mood for more? Check out episode #46 where we first discussed Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tocarczuk


Have a favourite Fitzcarraldo book or any particular thoughts on this episode? Let us know.


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