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26 October 2020

From Barcelona: interview with Silvia Sesé, editorial director of Anagrama

Laura Pugno

Silvia Sesé, born in Tremp, Lérida, in 1965, has been the editorial director of Anagrama since 2017. She became an influential figure in the Spanish publishing world when, working for the Destino publishing house of the Grupo Editorial Planeta, she discovered the Swedish writer Stieg Larsson and his Millennium saga.

How would you describe in just a few words the distinctive features of your publishing house for Italian publishers, writers and readers?

Anagrama is one of the most representative publishing houses of the post-Franco era and Spanish modernity, of the country’s progressive spirit, with a left-wing orientation. It is famous for its series of non-fiction works in the fields of sociology, politics and culture, but its most distinctive feature are the works of Spanish fiction and foreign fiction translated into Spanish. We continue to look for classics of the future and to propose topics of discussion with brilliant, transgressive non-fiction writers. In addition, we have a marked Latin American vocation.

How did you come into contact with Italian books and Italian literature? Can you recall a specific episode, encounter or event during your life or in the history of the publishing house?

Anagrama has always had space for Italian literature, from writers such as Bufalino, Tabucchi, Baricco, Mazzucco, Veronesi, Saviano… to non-fiction writers and philosophers such as Agamben, Magris and Calasso, to mention just a few names. After the acquisition of the publishing house by Feltrinelli, this liaison has become even more evident.

What, in your opinion, is different about Italian literature and Italian books generally? What kind of a contribution do they make to your catalogue?

The quality, cultural and humanistic solidity, and the interest in form.
Which Italian authors are present in your catalogue? Which kind of Italian books and authors would you like to acquire?
Recently, in addition to the authors mentioned beforehand, we have also started to include the new generations, such as Claudia Durastanti.

What can be done to forge even closer relations between Italian and Spanish publishing houses? Generally and in this moment in particular?

A literary and publishing festival in which we can tackle the issues facing the publishing industry – digital rights, distribution, etc – and in which there can be, at the same time, a literary exchange and meetings with the public.

How useful do you think a platform like newitalianbooks is? Generally and in this moment in particular?

I think it can be very positive to promote an encounter between Italian and Spanish cultures, which, even though they may seem very close to one another, are not always so close. It can also help to improve the situation as regards the influence of other cultures, such as Anglo-Saxon culture, in both our countries, etc…