Some of you might know me, others don't. I've come here partly to speculate and partly to complain.
Those of you, who recognize my name should remember I often expressed my strong opinion about the state of Western fantastic fiction. Negative opinion, I might add. For the last few years the number of interesting new writers and interesting ideas has constantly been decreasing. At the same time, I have been reading a growing numbers of opinions that Western scifi&fantasy writers are burnt-out. That of course, is the common opinion here, in Poland or perhaps in general to the east of the river Oder.
We strongly believe that Eastern European authors have more to offer today than those you are accustommed to. The reason? The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves... I don't want to elaborate this, I'm not the right person for that, but if I were to speculate, I'd go with different historic experiences, different cultural background or even ethnic origin. This all adds up to a unique blend of critical look at the modern society and its future and our own past. This doesn't mean typical, low-quality pulp is not available here. On the contrary. But we do get many interesting texts that wouldn't have any chance for being published where you live folks. And that brings me to what I intended originally.
I really loathe Western publishers. Oh, I do realise they need to earn a living and should publish those authors that offer a chance of good return on investment, but who said only Westerners have monopoly on profits, huh? While investments in foreign writers certainly require some spending, they may in turn result in income. As the example of Spain shows, different culture does not necessarily mean readers will be discouraged. In truth, a certain Polish writer (who happens to be the most popular fantasy writer in Poland), Andrzej Sapkowski, has recently gained huge popularity there and his books have been a great success (winning him some of the most important Spanish awards). Success of the first writer resulted in a decision to sign publishing deals with other authors from Poland and Russia.
Unfortunately, this doesn't even seem to be a light in a tunnel when it comes down to American and English publishers, two of the biggest book markets in the world. Given all the information I gathered, it looks that it's damn hard for Poles to find a publisher in the USA or even UK. It didn't even help a young but great Polish writer Jacek Dukaj, that a short animated film based on his fantastic novel, "The Cathedral", was nominated for Oscar two years ago. Translated by renowned Michael Kandel (the excerpt of the novel can be found here) together with another great story by Dukaj ("The Iron General", which in turn is available as an excerpt here) despite efforts couldn't find a publisher.
If a good translation and an Oscars buzz didn't help, what else will? Will the same happen to an interesting Russian writer Sergei Lukyanenko and the chance for international promotion he's having? A blockbuster hit, "Night Watch", based on his very good novel by the same title should hit cinemas in the West very soon. Will the merchandising oppportunities surrounding the film help to promote the book? Time will tell. I can definitely recommend this book to you.
Back to merchandising and Sapkowski I mentioned above. Some Polish computer games company is working on a possible major hit for computer games. The game called The Witcher is based on his hugely successful series of short stories and novels on witcher Geralt, a warrior trained from the early childhood to combat monsters. The early rave reviews suggest the game itself may be really successful, but I'm interesting in whether this would mean a chance for promoting Sapkowski. Again, time will tell. As of today there is no word on a possible translation of his works into English...
*sigh* Anyway, thanks for reading my ramblings. Perhaps anyone of you out there, who happens to read this post is on familiar terms with a publisher interested in new discoveries. If so, let them know there are great writers abroad waiting for a chance.