This Small London Publishing House Is Home to Two Nobel Prize Winners

Fitzcarraldo publishing house has picked two Nobel prize winners since launching in 2014

Olga Tokarczuk
Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk is the second author under Fitzcarraldo to take home a Nobel.
Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto/Getty Images
By Kayla Kibbe / October 17, 2019 11:09 am

Polish novelist Olga Tokarczuk has been awarded a Nobel prize for literature, becoming the second author under tiny publishing house Fitzcarraldo to do so in the publisher’s five-year history.

As detailed in a recent Financial Times article, Jacques Testard founded the tiny Fitzcarraldo publishing house back in 2014, and in its young life the London publisher has already received a remarkable amount of attention from the Nobel Prize committee.

Fitzcarraldo’s first Nobel achievement came in 2015, when Svetlana Alexievich won the prize for literature “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time.” Testard acquired the English-language rights to her book a year earlier, taking a significant chance on a then little-known Ukrainian author who had been largely ignored by mainstream publishers.

Testard’s £3,500 investment paid off after Alexievich’s Nobel win, which allowed Testard to command a six-figure sum for the US rights to her book, Second-hand Time.

“I guess it pays to take risks,” Testard told the Financial Times. The 34-year-old publisher launched Fitzcarraldo with the goal of creating a “continental [European] style publisher,” whose focus on individual authors and a select list of titles distinguishes the company from the mainstream international publishing conglomerates that have taken over the industry.

While Fitzcarraldo’s Nobel recognition runs deep, however, the company’s financial status has yet to reflect its critical success. According to the Financial Times, the publisher’s profit was just £1,100 last year.

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