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9 July 2024

Interview with Paolo Primavera and Alice Rifelli, Edicola Edizioni/Edicola Ediciones

Laura Pugno

As part of the interview series that newitalianbooks dedicates to Italian publishing houses with international branches, we meet Edicola Edizioni/Edicola Ediciones. This unique publisher operates between Italy and Latin America and is based in the town of Ortona. In 2022, Edicola was invited to take part in the 15th episode of Alfabeto Italiano, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation podcast designed as a journey through contemporary Italian publishing in the run-up to the Frankfurt Fair 2024. This year, the Abruzzo publishing house was awarded the National Translation Prize by the Italian Ministry of Culture.


How would you describe the identity of Edicola Ediciones to the readers of New Italian Books abroad?


Alice Rifelli

When reflecting on the concept of identity, I take my cue from books by Cynthia Rimsky, a Chilean writer with roots in Argentina whose work we have begun translating into Italy, starting with Il futuro è uno strano posto, Autostop per la rivoluzione and Yomurí. According to Rimsky, identity is an ephemeral, fluctuating, ever-changing image. Edicola was founded in Chile in 2013 and two years later opened an office in Italy. For several years it straddled the two countries, gathering the influences from two languages, two cultures, two approaches to literature, two different publishing worlds.

In Santiago, Edicola published its first books in response to a specific need (the scarce availability of contemporary Italian books in the Latin American market) and grew in the awareness that it could become a bridge, a ground on which distances, not only geographical ones, were shortened.

Today Edicola is an independent publishing house that translates, publishes and distributes books by authors from Latin America in Italy, and by authors from Italy in Chile and Argentina. In 2025 it will be 10 years old, a few months ago it won the National Translation Prize of the Italian Ministry of Culture, it has almost seventy titles in its catalogue and continues to observe its identity as it changes, or rather expands, mainly thanks to the ability of our authors to expand the boundaries of our thinking. As far as the Italian catalogue is concerned, I am thinking of the literary projects by Andrès Montero (of whom, after Tony Nessuno and La morte goccia a goccia, we will publish L’anno che abbiamo parlato con il mare in the autumn), by Lola Larra (Sprinters and A sud dell’Alameda, which won us the Andersen Prize in 2019), by María José Ferrada (Niños, Kramp and La casa sul cartello), by Alejandra Costamagna (Il sistema del tatto and C’era una volta un passero), by Claudia Apablaza (Tutti pensano che sia un fachiro and Storia della mia lingua) and by the aforementioned Cynthia Rimsky. I am also thinking of the work rediscovering the works of Pedro Lemebel, a Latin American icon of social criticism, whose chronicle collections Di perle e cicatrici and Folle affanno and the short stories Irraccontabili.

But if we talk about borders, then it is fair to say that Edicola tends to ignore them. After the first few years devoted exclusively to Chilean literature, our gaze began to explore new territories, starting with Colombia (with Orlando Echeverri Benedetti and María Ospina Pizano, 2023 Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Prize, whose Gli azzardi del corpo we translated and whose new book we will publish in 2025), Argentina (with María Moreno, whose L’atroce storia di Santos Godino, a narrative between fiction and journalistic chronicle of the vicissitudes of Argentina’s most famous serial killer, will be published this autumn) and Italy (where, especially with Livio Santoro‘s texts, we are focusing on the short form and linguistic research).


What are its characteristics and strengths?


Paolo Primavera

Edicola is a publishing house that has its roots in translation, the vehicle that allows us to shorten the distance between the two countries where it was born and continues to publish. From the very beginning, from the moment we decided to nurture a double catalogue, we realised that, both for us and for the translators with whom we collaborate, local knowledge would be an indispensable value that would make the difference for our texts. This is even more evident for translations into Italian, as Castilian is not only different from region to region but is often accompanied by localisms or real parallel languages, such as Chilean coa or Argentinian lunfardo.

With regard to the themes to which we appeal when choosing our titles, we try to pay attention to the multiplicity of the different and the fundamental role it plays in a society that wants to call itself truly contemporary; we give voice to unconventional stories, to minorities and to everyday life.

We imagine our catalogue as a kind of labyrinth where each title takes the reader by the hand and leads him towards another, and from this to yet another.

We have a lot of respect for our readers, whom we always imagine as curious people, thirsty for knowledge and willing to plunge into unfamiliar territories. We pay a lot of attention and care to the translation revision process, to the aesthetic aspect of the book, entrusting the covers to the work of established illustrators, and we try as much as possible to work independently of the rhythms that regulate the presence of a publishing house on the market. This is probably also the most effective way to respect the environment.


What bets, literary and otherwise, have worked best in Italy and/or Chile, and in your opinion, why?


Paolo Primavera

The main bet, and this applies to both territories we work in, is to give each book as long a life as possible, to continue to give it time, care and passion, even after the typical three months after which a title is generally swallowed up by the publishing market, thus disappearing from the reader’s attention.

I am thinking, for example, of the contemporary poetry series we publish in Chile, where we only collect female voices, and which years later continues to give us unimaginable satisfaction. Or Claudio Morandini‘s Nieve, perro, pie, which fascinated a large number of readers, due to its elegant narrative style and probably also because Adelmo Farandola’s loneliness was recognised as very similar to that experienced in living in a metropolis like Santiago de Chile. Or to La maravillosa lampara de Paolo Lunare by Cristò, so capable of winking at the concept of truth that the living can only freely express after death. To Silvia Ferreri‘s La madre de Eva for anticipating the Chilean wave in defence of LGBT+A rights, Marino Magliani‘s Antes que otros te lo digan for touching so profoundly on the theme of migration, or Peppe Millanta‘s Vinpeel de los horizontes, a delicate invitation to listen to one’s interlocutor in order to understand his or her essence and be able to embark on a journey together.