Two years ago, Gabriella Page-Fort, editorial director at AmazonCrossing, was celebrated as the top honoree for the annual PW Star Watch program, a partnership between Publishers Weekly and Frankfurter Buchmesse.
“Gabriella has had a tremendous role in increasing the number of books in translation published in the United States,” said Jim Milliot, editorial director of Publishers Weekly, at the time of her win. “The quality of her acquisitions has expanded the U.S. literary landscape and opened new territory for readers and book lovers.”
Publishing books in translation is a labor of love for Page-Fort, who wrote a piece entitled “Why Do Americans Read so Few Books in Translation?” for LitHub, of which a Spanish translation by Griselda Zavala Márquez was recently published in Argonáutica.
She is using her platform at Amazon to spread the translation message in different ways, including a promotion during World Book Day. “Amazon Crossing [conducted a] World Book Day giveaway – we’re excited to see more than 4 million pages read so far by customers in more than 100 countries,” said Page-Fort. “This year’s event was truly global in scope – with books featured on Amazon’s sites in the US, Canada, the UK, India, and Australia – and for the first time we featured a new release, Sofia Segovia’s The Murmur of Bees, translated by Simon Bruni (of which readers have read more than 1 million pages so far). My colleague Elizabeth DeNoma discovered this novel and the whole team fell head over heels for it.”
Today, she continues to expand the AmazonCrossing list, with acquisitions from new countries and even expanding the list into nonfiction. Last year’s publications of The Dark Heart: A True Story of Greed, Murder, and an Unlikely Investigator by Joakim Palmkvist, translated from Swedish by Agnes Broomé, which was one of the five most-sold translated books of 2018 per Amazon Charts. Masaji Ishikawa’s A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea, translated from Japanese by Risa Kobayashi and Martin Brown, and An American Princess: The Many Lives of Allene Tew by Annejet van der Zijl. translated from Dutch by Michele Hutchison, were Amazon Charts bestsellers as well as New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers, respectively.
Forthcoming books Page-Fort highlighted are Icelandic author Kristín Eiríksdóttir’s A Fist or a Heart, translated by Larissa Kyzer (set to be published in September 2019), which is currently nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize; Saud Alsanousi’s Mama Hissa’s Mice, translated by Sawad Hussein (November 2019), which is Amazon Crosssing's first translation from Arabic and its first acquisition from Kuwait; and another book by Annejet van der Zijl entitled Boy Between Worlds (August 2019).
“There’s no question this work gets easier with experience,” said Page-Fort, explaining that each book has new things to teach her about how to reach readers.
The Star Watch win is something that not only helped Page-Fort gain the attention of editors and agents, such as Japanese agent Daihei Shiohama who introduces her as “Super Star,” it also helped raise the profile of Amazon Crossing and translation publishing internally as well, providing more resources to create visibility for the imprint.
To nominate someone for Star Watch 2019, go to publishersweekly.com/StarWatch19.