“Good Literature Has Universal Appeal:” Judith Uyterlinde on Discovering International Literature

international literature

“Good Literature Has Universal Appeal:” Judith Uyterlinde on Discovering International Literature

S2 E2: World Editions’ Judith Uyterlinde Discusses Publishing International Literature in English

By Marleen Seegers, Co-Founder of 2 Seas Agency and Host of The Make Books Travel Podcast
international literature

Judith Uyterlinde © Hans Koole

November 15, 2020

Welcome to Season 2, episode 2 of the Make Books Travel Podcast! Today’s guest is Judith Uyterlinde.

Judith has had a diverse career in publishing and for the past few years she’s been Publishing Director of the internationally-minded publishing house World Editions.

It’s one of the few publishing houses that focuses on bringing international literature to an English readership. If you listened to episode 20 of the first season, you may remember that translator Eve Bodeux and I discussed the challenges that translated literature encounters on the English language market.

Yet, in spite of the general challenges it has brought to us all, 2020 is turning out to be quite a successful year for World Editions. No less than 2 of the 10 titles that made it to the longlist of this year’s National Book Award for Translated Literature are published by World Editions: Linda Boström Knausgård’s The Helios Disaster and Pilar Quintana’s The Bitch. The latter is now a finalist—we will know on November 18 whether it is the winner.

Here are some of the questions I asked Judith:

  • Can you tell us about World Editions and its mission?
  • How many titles do you generally publish every year?
  • The US and the UK are infamously difficult markets for books in translation. How has your experience been so far, and do you feel that things may be shifting?
  • What is your biggest market in terms of sales: the US or the UK? Or is it evenly balanced?
  • Have you noticed that certain topics or genres sell better (or less well) on this side of the pond than in the UK, and vice versa?
  • What has the impact of the pandemic been on your sales this year?
  • Did you postpone any publications and/or adapted your marketing and publicity strategy?
  • What went through your head when you found out that Pilar Quintana’s The Bitch, which you published earlier this year, was a finalist of the National Book Award for Translated Literature?
  • How did the acquisition of this title happen? Were you already familiar with the author and her work?
Show NotesMake Books Travel Podcast
  • Judith’s book recommendation:

Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, The Discomfort of Evening (Graywolf, 2020 for the US edition; Faber & Faber, 2020 for the UK edition; translated from the Dutch by Michele Hutchison)

  • About Judith:

Judith Uyterlinde (1962) started as an English, French, Spanish, German, and Portuguese translator for the European Community in Brussels. She wrote literary reviews for the newspaper NRC Handelsblad, and was a commissioning editor and publisher for several Dutch literary publishing houses, such as De Bezige Bij and J.M. Meulenhoff, with a focus on translated literature.

Subsequently, she worked as a literary programmer and coordinator for the international literature festival Winternachten in The Hague. She was a judge for the European Literature Prize, the Anton Wachter Prize for literary debuts and the Libris Prize for Dutch novels.

Judith has also written several books, one of which, Eisprong, was translated to over twenty languages. She also coordinated the literary ‘Guest of Honour’ programme, which presented Dutch and Flemish literature to the international public at the Frankfurt Book fair. Since 2017 she is the Publishing Director at World Editions, an English language publishing house specialized in voices from around the globe.

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