From Madrid: interview with Pilar Adón, writer, translator and publisher with Impedimenta.
Author: by Laura Pugno
Pilar Adón was born in Madrid in 1971. She is the author of three collections of short stories (La vida sumergida, El mes más cruel and Viajes inocentes), two novels (Las efímeras and Las hijas de Sara) and three collections of poems (Las órdenes, Mente animal and La hija del cazador). She translates from English and, together with Enrique Redel, runs Impedimenta.
How would you describe in just a few words for Italian publishers, writers and readers the distinctive features of your publishing house?
The aim of Impedimenta is, above all, to create a catalogue that recovers key works of the modern classics, but, at the same time, also to discover new, fresh works, which, with time, can themselves become modern classics – works that you read and appreciate, works that remain relevant. We want to recover undeniable classics, but also to “fabricate” modern classics, creating a constant dialogue between books that made us become readers in the past and books that seduce us as readers in the present. In 2008, our project was awarded the national prize for the best cultural publishing contribution, together with the publishing houses of the Contexto group. Mircea Cărtărescu, Stanisław Lem, Iris Murdoch, Penelope Fitzgerald, David Lodge, Natsume Sōseki, Georges Perec, Dubravka Ugrešic and Maryse Condé are just some of the authors we have published.
How did you come into contact with Italian books and Italian literature? Was there a particular episode, encounter or event you, personally, remember or one that stands out in the history of your publishing house?
We adore the Italian language and culture at Impedimenta. We have always been seduced by the history, cinema, landscape and, obviously, literature of Italy, which reflects all of this. As for me, I began studying Italian at the Italian Cultural Institute in Madrid, but had to give it up for lack of time. Now I am teaching myself Italian.
What, in your opinion, is different about Italian literature and Italian books generally? What kind of a contribution do they make to your catalogue?
Italian literature offers a vision of the current situation and past situations in Europe. Because our two countries are geographically close to one another, you would expect these visions to be very similar to our Spanish visions. But that is not the case in several different ways. The same is true of our two languages. You have the impression that because you know Spanish, you also know Italian – the same happens with Portuguese –, but you could not be more wrong. There are similarities between our two cultures, but also important differences.
Which Italian authors are present in your catalogue?
We have Le ragazze di San Frediano by Vasco Pratolini, Il cappotto di Proust by Lorenza Foschini, Scritti galeotti and Mestieri di scrittori by Daria Galateria, and the magnificent illustrated albums Il viaggio and Io e la mia paura by the illustrator and graphic designer Francesca Sanna.
What can be done to forge (even) closer relations between Italian and Spanish publishing houses? Generally and in this particular moment?
You need to know the catalogues of the different publishing houses, the new entries, the new authors. A few years ago, we had a great experience in Rome at the Festival “Più Libri Più Liberi”, where we were able to speak to several Italian publishers who were very interested in our catalogue and were really positive about the selections we had made. This exchange of titles, proposals and experiences was very rewarding and opened up new, unexplored possibilities for us. I would like to add that it would be very useful for publishing houses to be given more information about the funding currently available for translations.
How useful do you think a platform like newitalianbooks is? Generally and in this moment in particular?
I would go back to what I was saying before regarding the exchange of information. This platform provides an overview of the different novels, non-fiction works, children’s literature and illustrated books that are being published. Moreover, it provides you with references, interviews and information on how to apply for funding. I think that it is an interesting platform, especially right now, when it is difficult to organise meetings with people physically present, so all publishers are now surfing a lot more on the web.