In November, MacLehose Press will publish Accabadora by the Sardinian author Michela Murgia, acquired from the Turin-based publisher Einaudi. Accabadora has been a critical and commercial success in Italy and has won no fewer than six literary prizes, the most prestigious of them being the Premio Campiello. There seems to be a renewed confidence in homegrown Italian (as opposed to translated) fiction at the moment. Gomorra by Roberto Saviano and La Solitudine dei Numeri Primi by Paolo Giordano both sold huge numbers of copies, and with sales of 120,000 almost 250.000 copies in 2010, Accabadora looks to be continuing the trend.
Now a part of the Mondadori Group – by far the largest of Italian publishing conglomerates, with a market share of 28.4% – Einaudi was founded in 1933 by Guilio Einaudi in collaboration with a number of friends from the Liceo Classico D’Azeglio: Leone Ginzburg, Massimo Mila, Norberto Bobbio and Cesare Pavese. Italy was at that time controlled by the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini, and Einaudi’s father, Luigi, was the editor of Riforma Sociale, a liberal, anti- fascist magazine.
The first book published was a translation (undertaken by Luigi Einuadi) of Henry A. Wallace’s What America Wants. The book was trademarked by a image of an ostrich which was inherited from a magazine that Giulio Einaudi edited up until it was closed down by the fascist authorities. The logo is used on Einaudi books to this day, and was actually first designed in 1574 when it adorned a volume detailing the military and amorous exploits of Paolo Giovio.
From the outset, Einaudi Editore’s publishing programme was as anti-fascist as it could be given the depredations of government censors, and when the Second World War came to an end, with Mussolini out of the picture and democracy reinstated, they were in a position to provide Italy’s newly re-enfranchised citizens with the liberal and left-wing literature they craved. Luigi Einaudi was elected as the second President of the Italian Republic in 1948, and, with many publishing houses tainted by associations with the old regime, Giulio Einaudi assumed the role of elder statesman of the Italian literary world.
In the post-war era, Giulio Einaudi gave literary breaks some of Italy’s greatest writers: Elsa Morante, Italo Calvino and Primo Levi. Throughout the ’50s and ’60s, they introduced iconic series of books including the “Nuovo Politecnico” list, which concentrated on short works that analyzed social and political issues in depth, and the “Collezione di poesia”, which published old masters alongside new voices. The 1970s saw the publication of a six-volume history of Italy edited by Ruggiero Romano, 100,000 of which found a home on bookshelves up and down the country, as Einaudi continued to expand. They encountered financial difficulties in the 1980s, but by the 1990s investment in the acquisition of fiction from abroad brought Ian McEwan, Don DeLillo, Jose Saramago, Gunter Grass, Paul Auster, J.M. Coetzee and Ernest Hemingway to the list.
Throughout its history, Einaudi was known as an environment that fostered and harnessed creative tension: differences of opinion, often heated, were encouraged and were central to the publishing process. Einaudi became part of the Mondadori Group in 1994, and its founder retired three years later, at the grand old age of eighty-five – although he continued to be an almost daily visitor to the Einaudi offices until his death in 1999.
Today Einaudi continues to be one of the outstanding Italian publishing houses. Over the next few years three further Einaudi authors will be published by MacLehose Press (and its not just one-way street, as Einuadi are the Italian publisher of Quercus’ The Blackhouse): Marcello Fois, from Sardinia, who has won a number of prizes for his novel Memoirs of the Abyss; Andrea Bajani, who recently won the Bagutta Prize for Ogni Promessa (Every Promise); and Mariapia Veladiano, who won the Calvino Prize for La Vita Accanto (A Life Apart).We hope that it is a partnership that will continue for many years to come.