Wednesday 17 November 2021

Kabaty Press and Sven Elvestad

I came across Kabaty Press via the Golden Age Detection Facebook group. which includes a lot of interesting material from a very wide range of contributors around the world. This led to correspondence with Isobelle Fabian, who told me that she started Kabaty Press (the name comes from a suburb of Warsaw) 'because after living in Poland for a number of years, I came to realize what a vast mountain of literature there is that never makes it into English.' 

Isobelle added: 'I don't believe that book buyers avoid translated literature...Rather it's a matter of how it's promoted and sold...together with a tendency to translate only 'serious' literature rather than what the majority of people in other countries are actually reading...Also, the economics can be tricky, as the translation needs to paid for upfront, and like any book only the rare one breaks through to become a bestseller. Finally,  publishing today is very focused on promoting the author, so if the author happens to be dead,  or even unavailable for book tours in another country,  it's seen as a major negative'. Some very fair points here, and I think that outfits like Kabaty deserve every encouragement.

I've now read their recent offering, The Man Who Plundered the City, by Sven Elvestad, translated by Frederick H. Martens and introduced by Mitzi M. Brunsdale. It's a conspicuously well-produced paperback. Elvestad is better known to me under the name Stein Riverton, who has been described as 'the Edgar Allan Poe of Scandinavian', though I'd say that a closer comparison is with another Edgar, Mr Wallace. 

Elvestad's first novel appeared in 1907 and he wrote nearly a hundred more prior to his death in 1934. As you'd expect with someone so remarkably prolific, The Man... is a light, breezy thriller, definitely not to be taken too seriously, and a historical curiosity rather than a literary masterpiece. I'm glad to have had the chance to read it and I look forward to more European 'classic crime' from Kabaty.


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