A Carnival of Voices in Independent Publishing
Parthian will have been publishing for twenty-five years in 2018 so we’re looking back and seeing if it’s all been worth it...
I can still see Topher Mills, in a big red suit, he later claimed he never owned, standing at an Academi buffet supper, that I had gate-crashed, telling us we should set up our own publishing company. A year later Gill and I were at a celebration of ten years of Red Sharks Press, Topher’s own independent poetry publisher, held at the Clwb Ifor Bach in the centre of Cardiff. Ten years seemed like an improbably long time for a writer and publisher. I would be in by late thirties by then.
And now I’m in my early fifties and we’ve been publishing for twenty-five years. It has been a time of many emotions. Publishing is about hope and communication. The idea to make public, ideas and stories. We’ve published books that stay with you, become part of a shared culture and some that are forgotten quickly as they fail to find a hold and are hidden as the fall of new words turns with every year.
The picture above is of myself, Gill Griffiths and Ravi Pawar on the steps of museum in Cardiff taking a promotional shot for our second published book, Tilting at Windmills, an anthology of the winners of the Rhys Davies short story award. We’ve always been about new writing and the promotion of new voices. The Rhys Davies Trust has been a constant for us with other work and projects through the twenty-five years and is now supporting the Modern Wales series. The Prince’s Youth Business Trust was crucial in the initial development of the venture with training and finance. Major supporters once we got going were first the Arts Council of Wales and then the Welsh Books Council with their many services to develop publishing in Wales. And then with devolution and a Welsh Government the Library of Wales project, now reaching fifty titles, has been a ground-breaking series edited with talent and ambition by Dai Smith. There have been lots of other people who have committed time and energy and passion to making it all happen. We’d like to thank all of them.This year at twenty-five, we’re having a quick look back, but publishing is always about the future and this catalogue brings another year of books published by Parthian. We hope you enjoy reading them. Take a look at our full catalogue or come along to some of our literary events.
Richard Lewis Davies
We're also looking forward with a host of fascinating voices from Wales and through our Carnival of Voices in translation from a wider Europe including new work from the Basque Country, Slovakia, and the Baltic countries. In 2017, we published Ece Temelkuran's ground-breaking road novel of ideas Women Who Blow on Knots. It received a host of fabulous reviews and won the Edinburgh International Literature Festival First Book Award. In 2017 Alys Conran's novel of the conflict of childhood, language and ideas Pigeon won the Welsh Book of the Year and Hummingbird by Tristan Hughes is on a number of literary shortlists. This year Glen James Brown's Ironopolis, a working-class acid-house north-eastern set on a housing estate in Middlesbrough is a fabulous and inventive slice of fiction. While for a literary thriller of murder and intrigue set against the background of a Mediterranean island The Golden Orphans by Gary Raymond is great summer read with a bit of bite.
PoetryNew titles for 2018 include a new Parthian Baltic series edited by Alison Evans and Jayde Will featuring work from Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. It will be the first English translation for an array of Baltic poetic voices including Krisjanis Zelgis, Eduards Aivars, Eeva Park, Madara Gruntmane, Marius Burokas and Austra Kazillunaite. Many of these poets will be appearing at the Wheatsheaf Baltic Poetry night in Fitzrovia, London on the 8th April 2018 and will also be part of events at the London International Bookfair. Also new for 2018 will be first poetry collections by Rhian Elizabeth, Rhys Owain Williams, Mari Ellis Dunning and new collections from Kate North and Kate Noakes.
The Classics of Welsh Literature
We also publish the Library of Wales series edited by Professor Dai Smith. The series includes books such as Border Country, The Black Parade and Dannie Abse’s Ash on a Young Man’s Sleeve. Recent books include Dat's Love and Other Stories by Leonora Brito and In and Out of the Goldfish Bowl by Rachel Trezise. Soon to be added is Booker long-listed author Stevie Davies for her novel The Element of Water.
Over the years we have developed good translation links throughout Europe and beyond, and our books have appeared in over thirty foreign-language editions including German, French, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Turkish, Danish, Turkish, Portuguese and Russian.
The PEC strategy
Featuring writers from - from nine countries – from the Basque coast at Donostia, to Slovakia, to Romania, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia to Germany, to Turkey and from Wales – the new Parthian Europa Carnivale project represents a collection of new European fiction and poetry, written by some of the most talented contemporary female authors writing today.
The books we have chosen tackle a number of extremely important or relevant themes, some of them universal despite their foundations in differing languages, histories, and cultures. These writers have woven the tales of a number of extraordinary women challenged by religion, health, love, war, and politics; from The Equestrienne’s feeble Karolina, whose passion for trick-riding is threatened by the Goliath that is capitalism, to Her Mother’s Hands’s Nerea, who must battle more intimate, personal demons in the face of her mother’s amnesia, each story, be it long or short, showcases a masterful depiction of the human spirit in the face of adversity and oppression.
PEC, which began with the publication of Goldfish Memory by Monique Schwitter in Spring 2015, has ten books either published or in the process of translation, with new voices being discussed for 2019. The books already released have garnered critical acclaim and a wealth of prestigious prizes, including the PEN International/New Voices Award, the Beterriko liburua, the Rotahornpreis and, most recently, the PEN Translates Award.
Our backlist also includes a growing number of titles in translation such as Petrograd, Paris, Harry Selwyn’s Last Race, To Bury the Dead, Under the Dust, The Bridge Over the River, Strange Language, Martha, Jac and Shanco, and Feet in Chains from Spanish, Catalan, German, Basque and Welsh.
For all Rights Enquiries please contact Richard Davies: email@example.com
The Parthian Team
Richard Lewis DaviesRichard Lewis Davies is one of the founding partners of Parthian. It was established in 1993 to publish his first novel Work, Sex and Rugby, and has since developed into a leading independent publisher based in Wales with a focus on Welsh writers working in English while also assembling a carnival of voices from many languages and cultures. Richard has been involved in the literary scene in Wales since 1990 and is the current commercial director of Parthian and the Library of Wales series. In addition to publishing, he has a parallel career as a creative writer. His novels include Tree of Crows and My Piece of Happiness, and he has also published a selection of literary essays As I Was a Boy Fishing and a critically acclaimed selection of stories Love and Other Possibilities. His work has received numerous awards, including the Rhys Davies short story competition and the John Morgan writing award. He has worked extensively in Welsh theatre and has had six plays professionally produced, the most recent of which was 'Supertramp, Sickert and Jack the Ripper' at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. His work for younger readers includes a series of children’s picture books available in both English and Welsh Tai and the Tremorfa Troll, developed with the illustrator Hayley Acreman. He is currently writing a play with Gustav Dunck.
Gillian Griffiths is one of the founding partners of Parthian and is the financial director. She has worked in fine art and photography and held a number of exhibitions in Wales including Child for a Moment and Freeways, both at the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea. Her photography and artwork have appeared on a wide range of covers for Parthian including Grace, Tamar, and Laszlo the Beautiful. She is working on a book of her work and is a trustee of the Coppice wood college in the Teifi valley.
Susie Wild is publishing editor at Parthian looking after our poetry, fiction, translation and creative non-fiction lists, organising festivals, reading our submissions and developing new authors. She has worked with Parthian since 2007 following an MA in Creative Writing from Swansea University and an MA in Journalism from Goldsmiths. After London life as a journalist for the Guardian and an editor at TheSite.org she returned to Wales as a local and national arts and music journalist writing for BBC Wales, Clash Magazine, Metro, The Stage, Mslexia, The Big Issue, New Welsh Review, Planet and many more. These days she lectures in the art of novel and short story writing and is currently an associate lecturer on the Creative Writing MA at Cardiff MET. In her own writing, Susie has toured extensively with her debut poetry collection Better Houses in 2017 and 2018 while her commissioned multi-media piece 'Sex Change Disco' was performed at festivals in 2016. She regularly reads at events including the Glastonbury Festival, Hay Festival, the Green Man Festival, and the Dylan Weekend and hosts literary events. The author of the short story collection The Art of Contraception listed for the Edge Hill Prize, and the novella Arrivals, Susie lives in a Cardiff garret where she is writing her next book and possibly reading yours.
Alison EvansAlison studied creative writing at the Open University and took the opportunity to begin an internship with Parthian via the OU. With a background in research, writing, and marketing in the charity sector, she was interested in a change of direction and, after a lifetime of obsessive reading, it seemed that publishing could be the way to go. She is the editor of the Parthian Baltic series. Alison lives in Carmarthen with her son and dogs and in her spare time sews, writes, walks the beaches and forests of West Wales and spends hours reading in the bath.
Nick FiskNick Fisk studied English and Philosophy at Reading University. A fervent Cardiff City fan, he is the author of the Parthian title, The Blues Are Back in Town. For three years, Nick was the editor of the poetry and writers’ magazine, Square. He has several self-published books of poetry and has also published books by Cardiff-based poet, J. Brookes. He was the compere of the successful Oxslam poetry slams. In his spare time, Nick enjoys playing poker and likes to be referred to as the poker playing poet. Nick handles Parthian’s logistics and sales.
Eddie Matthews is a Ph.D. in Creative Writing student at Swansea University and assistant editor at Parthian. His area of research is the California-Mexico border and his dissertation novel will explore the multitudinous characters that comprise it. He is a California native from its central coast and takes joy in learning about the U.K. and growing his worldview in the process. Already having been a lover of tea and green hills, he feels at home where he lives now in Swansea.
Dai SmithDai Smith is the series editor of the Library of Wales and Professor in the Cultural History of Wales at Swansea University. Having studied History at Balliol College, Oxford, and Literature at Columbia University, New York City, he was awarded a Ph.D. at Swansea University for a thesis on the South Wales Miners' Federation, which subsequently became the subject of his book, with Hywel Francis, The Fed. He has written extensively about modern Wales, including Aneurin Bevan and the World of South Wales (1993) and Wales: A Question for History (1998). His critically acclaimed biography of Raymond Williams was published in 2008 as Raymond Williams: A Warrior's Tale. His debut novel of stories Dream On was published in 2013 and a novella What I Know I Cannot Say in 2015.
Nikki GriffithsNikki Griffiths has many years experience working in publishing in the areas of rights licensing, contract negotiation and a stint in international sales and has worked for Penguin Books, Random House and Bloomsbury. Should you wish to consider any of our books or need more information on our authors and titles please do contact Nikki at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ann Dystrup Bjerregaard
Ann Dystrup Bjerregaard is our current intern in Parthian’s Swansea office. She is a Danish MA student of English language literature, history, culture and linguistics from Aarhus University. Her dream is to work in Danish publishing, preferably managing translations. Aside from giving her valuable publishing and marketing experience, her placement at Parthian Books also promises to help her towards beginning her MA dissertation on Welsh nationalism and literature politics. In her spare time, she reads anything she can get her hands on, wanders endlessly through Swansea and struggles to get out of a creative writing slump.
Internship ExperiencesIn addition to Parthian HQ in Cardigan, there is a bustling Editorial and Marketing office at Swansea University, where we provide work experience for students interested in developing publishing skills, from taster sessions in publishing software like InDesign to editorial assistant and marketing duties. Internships can be conducted on an informal basis and are flexible to suit individual requirements. We also work closely with Swansea University’s placement programs: SPIN and Santander and have hosted placements for American, Colombian, Dutch, French, Spanish, Italian, and Slovakian interns.
The new recruitment period for internships and work experience placements will start in November 2018. For more information, please contact email@example.com.
Former Parthian intern Jantine Broak writes about her four months spent in Wales, and the opportunities and tasks that she experienced with us
My time at Parthian Books has been brilliant. As soon as I got the green light for my internship, they were concerned with giving me a thoroughly enjoyable working experience, picking out duties that suited me and engaging me with projects via e-mail before I arrived. The moment I stepped into the office on a predictably rainy morning, I was steeped in Welsh hospitality and given cakes, tea, and a pile of Welsh literature to take home to read. Over the next three months, I had some very diverse duties: writing press releases and assisting with the marketing campaign for Stand Up and Sock It to Them Sister, meeting with authors, blogging for the website and writing newsletters, creating promotional flyers and booklets, and writing reader reports for manuscripts that arrived on our doorstep. A bit of everything, really, and as my master’s was in editing, I was happily given plenty of opportunities to proofread, correct and oversee the various stages of the production of manuscripts. They were happy to hand over the reins, giving me plenty of responsibilities and learning opportunities. Communication (and the coffee machine) were sometimes erratic, but it was all part of the spontaneous and slightly chaotic environment of a small publishing house.
In the meantime, I traveled to literary festivals all over the country that featured Parthian’s books, including Gwyll Aral in north Wales, Penfro in the west, the National Eisteddfod and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. It was a wonderful opportunity to see as much of the UK, and mainly of Wales, as I could. My coworkers and friends gave me the full Welsh treatment, taking me out for drinks at the ubiquitous pubs, making sure I ate enough cawl and cheddar, and introducing me to the Welsh literary canon. If you’re not familiar with the works of Dylan Thomas when you arrive in Swansea, you will be soon enough. On weekends I took the bus to the gorgeous Gower peninsula, just an hour away from Swansea, to enjoy the unspoiled Welsh beaches, forests, cliffs, and castle ruins, walking sections of the Wales Coast Path and on my way back stopping in Mumbles for one of their famous ice creams. I visited vibrant Cardiff a number of times, which is only an hour away by bus or train, and on hot summer days (of which there were at least five!) I was happy to dip my toes into the ocean in Swansea Bay, which practically reached to the doorstep of the office on the university campus.
Overall, Parthian have been a huge help in giving me necessary experience in publishing, introducing me to many interesting people in the field, and making sure I got to taste everything on the menu—not just editing, but also marketing and administrative tasks. It has been an absolute pleasure to contribute to their catalogue and do my bit to raise the profile of Welsh literature. Furthermore, it was great to dive into the Welsh literary canon and learn more about the history of Wales, which, undeservingly, is little discussed outside of Wales itself. I’m very grateful for the warm welcome and the equally warm goodbye party they gave me and hope to continue to keep in touch with them in the future.
I've written more about the things I got up to during my internship on my blog, jantinebroek.wordpress.com. For more info about the work I did for Parthian and my services as an editor, copywriter, and translator, visit my website, fabulatextservices.wordpress.com.
The Parthian publishing programme is produced with support from of the Welsh Books Council.