Cross-curtain literature, and pretty covers

I’ve had a bit of a reading bottleneck recently. I suddenly realised that there was a short but pressing list of books that needed dispatching for one reason or another and plunged into them with great gusto, if I may say so myself. But now I’m briefly surfacing to mention the new list of Central European books Penguin will be publishing in May, which sound great. Penguin don’t have a special page about this series for some reason, but you can read about it here.


I’m a big fan of Russian, Eastern and Central European literature (put those borders wherever you like) and it bothers me that in order to read as much as I would like of them I’d pretty much have to learn Czech, Hungarian, Polish, and all, as they’re not widely translated. Although, having said that, my joint-favourite publishers Pushkin and Hesperus Presses do a fine line in cross-curtain literature. But I am particularly gratified to see Central European writing published by Penguin, as it seems to signal a move towards the U.K. mainstream for these books.

Pushkin Press

Plus the covers are by gray318, who’s Jonathan Lethem covers are really nice, though I’m not 100% sure about these ones. It may be a bit too intentionally ‘quirky’, following along with the commonplace of Central/Eastern Europeans as the writers of almost self-consciously odd works. 

Pushkin, Hesperus, and the NYRB books always give their books lovely covers, whereas some publishers don’t treat their literature well at all.

Unpleasantly covered Capek

 You see how maltreated Capek has been in the past. I don’t know why publishers of books they deem to be obscure usually condemn them under such covers as these. As if to say, ‘no, I don’t know why anyone would read this’. And yet once you get past the covers the books are a revelation.

Anyway, to veer back towards the original subject,  I want to read all of the Penguins, and more of the same.


One thought on “Cross-curtain literature, and pretty covers

  1. Pushkin Press have done a good job of republishing Zweig’s novellas — surely one of the best and most underrated European writers of the last century. Although, I read the Penguin edition of ‘Chess’ — and what a story! Completely blew me away. Reminds me that I’m ready to reread it (again).


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