25 Mar Les Argonautes Editeur: Making European Literature Travel to France
By Marleen Seegers, Co-Founder of 2 Seas Agency and Host of The Make Books Travel Podcast
March 25, 2022
This is the last episode I recorded before traveling to Europe again at the end of March, to attend the London Book Fair but also to visit publishers in Amsterdam and Paris.
I wanted to alert you before you listen to today’s interview with Les Argonautes Editeur founder Katharina Loix Van Hooff that Russia comes up a couple of times during our conversation. We mention it in the context of European literature, and more precisely, because Katharina has acquired the French rights in two novels written by Dutch author Marente de Moor. Marente used to live in Russia and one of the two novels is set in there.
Please note that my interview with Katharina was recorded prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and keep this in mind as you’re listening. Otherwise it may strike you as insensitive and incomprehensible that we do not mention the ongoing war.
While I can’t wait to see many publishing friends and colleagues again in person soon, my thoughts are with the people of Ukraine. I’ve already expressed my thoughts and concerns about the Russian invasion in 2 Seas Agency’s March newsletter, and have published an article on our website, which links a list of humanitarian organizations one can donate to. 2 Seas Agency has made a donation to Médecins sans frontières/Doctors without Borders.
Here are some of the questions I asked Katharina:
- Was starting your own publishing company something that you’ve always aspired to?
- Can you tell us a bit about Les Argonautes?
- What were the main challenges to get started?
- Like elsewhere, the French publishing industry has been marked by consolidations in recent years. At the same time, several new publishing houses were launched these last 12-18 months or so, including yours. What’s your take on this situation?
- What is your favorite book fair, and why?
Katharina’s book recommendation:
- The Sweet Indifference of the World by Peter Stamm
Katharina Loix Van Hooff has been working in publishing for twenty years. Born in Berlin, she attended the Berlin Journalism school and went on to study comparative literature and history in Brussels, Berlin, Washington D.C. and Paris all while working for German newspapers and radio, amongst others reporting extensively from Russia and Ukraine.
After important editing projects for a German publisher and her own novel published with Hanser Verlag, she took up a a Master’s degree in Politique éditoriale in Paris (Villetaneuse-Paris XIII University) and worked several years as an agent for Anna Jarota Agency in Paris.
In her function as responsible of the foreign literature department at Gallimard, she accompanied authors like Orhan Pamuk, Amos Oz, Ludmila Ulitskaya, Bernhard Schlink and Peter Handke.
In the summer of 2021 she founded Les Argonautes Éditeur, an independent publishing house focusing on European translated literature. She currently develops an innovative and interactive internet project associated with the publishing house and supported by the city of Paris. The idea is to promote European literature to new audiences.