The first volume of Best European Fiction, from the year 2010, brought together stories from 30 countries—introducing fiction by well-established writers such as Alasdair Gray and Jon Fosse in addition to stories by emerging European writers who had not yet been translated into English. Over the last six years, the series has published more than 200 stories from countries across Europe, from Iceland to Russia.
At a time when publishers are publishing dramatically less writing in translation, Dalkey Archive Press will release Best European Fiction 2016 on November 13. In an email interview, the volume’s editor, Nathaniel Davis, described the process of continuing to provide English-language readers with new artistic and intellectual windows that open out on to Europe.
MB: The call for submissions for Best European Fiction 2016 received more than 150 stories. Describe the process of whittling that number down to 29. What were your toughest editorial decisions? For example, were you conflicted in choosing between two authors from the same country?
ND: The way the selection process works, we choose one story from each country, and multiple stories for countries with more than one national language. So we might have both French and German stories from Switzerland, or French and Flemish stories from Belgium. Part of the project of Best European Fiction is to highlight writers from neglected linguistic traditions. So BEF2016 has Spanish stories written in Basque and Catalan, but not Castilian (although we often also include Castilian authors). After the primary selection of the best submissions, we have to whittle it down to about thirty, taking space and funding into consideration. We ask the participating countries to contribute some financial support to the anthology, as it’s a very expensive undertaking that doesn’t pay for itself (despite usually selling pretty well). READ MORE…