After winning the Nobel Prize in Literature, Louise Glück has found herself at the heart of less-welcome publicity due to a dispute over who should hold the Spanish-language rights to her work.
Pre-Textos, a publisher based in Valencia, Spain, which has translated and released seven of Glück’s books, has called on the American poet to intervene in its favor after her literary agent selected another Spanish-language publisher a month after her award. Pre-Textos had let the Spanish rights to Glück’s work expire, but it maintains that it should be rewarded for broadening her readership and publishing her work at a loss.
“We want some kind of justice for 14 years of loyalty to an author who was almost completely unknown to Spanish-language readers until the Nobel Prize,” said Manuel Borrás, the literary director of Pre-Textos. “For years, we have lost money in the name of promoting great poetry and a wonderful author.”
Borrás acknowledged he had little ground for a lawsuit against the agent, Andrew Wylie, but he said “there is also something called ethics.” According to Borrás, Wylie did not offer Pre-Textos a chance to sign a new rights contract after Glück won the Nobel Prize. Instead, Glück will now be distributed in Spanish by Visor, a publisher that specializes in poetry.
Chus Visor, an editor and the founder of Visor, said he would start publishing Glück as soon as possible, and that he found the dispute bewildering. “What happened with Glück has happened with authors throughout life and in Spain as well: many change publishers, including some who go to Pre-Textos,” he said.
The dispute between Pre-Textos and Wylie has been debated on Spanish-speaking social media and largely presented as the fight of a small publisher against a powerful and ambitious agent. Borrás said he was grateful for the “tsunami of solidarity” that Pre-Textos had received, particularly from Latin America.
Damián Tullio, a translator working in Argentina, said he initially felt outrage when he heard that Pre-Textos had lost the translation rights to Glück’s work, but he now thinks that Glück should seize on the newfound interest the Nobel Prize has generated in her poetry and work with whichever publisher can provide the strongest and broadest international book distribution.
In general, Tullio said, “independent Spanish publishers have a lot of difficulty to distribute their books in Latin America.”
Author: Minder, Raphael; Alter, Alexandra
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