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Our Mission and Values
The mission of Readers International remains the same as it was at the start: to bring to readers the best international literature, especially by authors representing the national conscience of their countries, who are therefore often subject to political pressures, censorship and exile. In the past these writers included East European dissidents during the Cold War, African writers under apartheid and writers in exile from military regimes in Chile, Uruguay and Argentina. However, we recognise that the nature of political engagement and indeed the writer’s role in many countries have changed over time. Also, audiences and publishing itself have been hugely affected by the establishment of the internet and electronic media, and there is scope for creativity and innovation in our field as these important changes take their course.
Our Record of Excellence
Readers International literary titles from all over the world were recognized at publication by reviewers in major publications like The New Yorker, Publishers Weekly (including “Books of the Year” selection), and The New York Times Book Review, The Literary Review, Times Literary Supplement, as well as being featured on the BBC and NPR. The Readers International translations by linguists like David H. Rosenthal (Catalan), George Theiner (Czech), Nick Caister (Spanish), Arch Tait (Russian), John Batki (Hungarian), David Newton Marinelli (German) and Professor Martin Holman (Korean) are now regarded as classics of modern fiction.
The diversity of authors and works published by Readers International includes:
- The first novel ever translated into English by a Nicaraguan writer - Sergio Ramirez’ To Bury Our Fathers, praised by both Salman Rushdie and Ariel Dorfman
- First novel from Haiti translated in more than a generation, Cathedral of the August Heat by Pierre Clitandre
- The first publication in English of Argentinian writer Osvaldo Soriano, A Funny Dirty Little War, reviewed very favorably by John Updike in The New Yorker.
- Publication of Fools and Other Stories by South African Njabulo Ndebele, winner of Africa’s highest literary award, the NOMA Prize.
- Translation of the first post-Soviet-era Russian Booker Prize-winner, Baize-Covered Table with Decanter by Vladimir Makanin.
- Readers International introduced Czech writer Ivan Klima into English with the delightful My Merry Mornings, securing major international coverage for his work.
- Published Palestinian Emil Habiby’s satirical novel The Secret Life of Saeed the Pessoptimist. Habiby was the first Palestinian writer ever to win the Israel Prize.
- Readers International introduced into English Lu Wenfu from China and Abdellatif Laabi from Morocco, who both subsequently won Lillian Hellman-Dashiel Hammett Awards for writers of courage from US Human Rights Watch.
Who We Are
Readers International is a small independent literary publisher of international literature, making excellent and important works of world literature available to US readers in high quality translations. We are a 501©(3) not-for-profit organisation first incorporated in 1982 in the state of Louisiana. We began publishing books in 1984. We have a North American Book Service office in Columbia, Louisiana, in the Fifth Congressional District of the USA. All those connected with the U.S. organisation and the trustee board are US citizens.
In the UK we have been a registered company and charity (Charity Number 295396) since 1986, with a separate Board of Trustees representing UK international publishing (i.e. African Writers Series) and also human rights expertise. We have a London editorial office, staffed by one of the founders, Dr Dorothy Connell.
We have published over 50 titles, mostly in original English translations, many of these works supported through the 1980s and 1990s by National Endowment for the Arts, Ford and Rockefeller Foundation, and MacArthur grants, as well as Arts Council, Know How Fund and other UK funders. Since 2000, a period of sustained but quiet maintenance of our operations has passed, and Readers International titles have continued in print and selling in the USA, Canada, UK and abroad, significantly contributing to US and UK college courses and also to new markets and audiences for books in English that have been created in Central Europe, especially in Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, since the fall of Communism and the end of the Cold War.
Just as after the fall of the Wall, Readers International was one of the first Western publishers to work with our formerly dissident contacts in Central and Eastern Europe to publish books like The Rights of Man and On Liberty, which had not been available for 50 years under Communism, we now want to respond to the changed situation created by the internet to help world writers find a new digital presence, and to find new and diverse audiences for writers who can truly expand our world view.