Peirene Press announces new direction

Peirene Press would like to announce that it is under new ownership and management. Former owner and publisher Meike Ziervogel has stepped down, and new co-directors, Stella Sabin and James Tookey, are taking the company forward with a re-brand, relocation and new editorial direction.

In 2008 Meike Ziervogel set up Peirene Press – an independent publisher dedicated to collectable editions of translated European novellas. Working alone from her living room, Meike published the first novella in 2010: Beside the Sea by Véronique Olmi, translated by Adriana Hunter. In the twelve years since this first (extraordinary) book, Peirene has published over forty books, featuring translations from seventeen languages, and twenty countries. Peirene titles have been listed for the International Booker (or the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize) seven times. Thanks to Meike’s editorial eye and boundless energy, as well as the dedicated community of readers who supported the press, Peirene has become a central plank of the independent publishing scene which has bloomed in the U.K. and Ireland in the last decade.

Meike has been working in Beirut since 2018, and in 2020 she established the Alsama Project, an educational charity based in Shatila Refugee Camp. It became clear she couldn’t give her all to both organisations, and so in the summer of 2021, Stella Sabin and James Tookey, both former assistants at Peirene, agreed to take over the press. They both bring a deep knowledge and affection for Peirene and its history, and a keen sense of its potential.

We are proud to be able to take Peirene forward into a new and exciting chapter. We will build on the last ten years, bringing new voices and great stories into English, whilst widening the scope of what Peirene can do. In the short term this mean publishing a diverse range of books from beyond Europe as part of our novella series. In 2023, we will publish our first Brazilian title, The Love of Singular Men, a queer coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of 1970s Rio de Janeiro, by the Prêmio Jabuti winning author Victor Heringer.

The subscription model has always been at the heart of Peirene and we want to bring more people into the fold through a re-design. We have worked with Glasgow-based Art Director Orlando Lloyd to create new branding, including a logo and website, and a new look for our collectable novella series. This includes the cover of our upcoming book Of Saints and Miracles by Manuel Astur, tr. Claire Wadie, which features an original artwork by William Luz. 

In addition to these changes, Peirene Press has relocated to Bath, Somerset, where we hope to be part of the thriving literary scene in the area. We have also changed distributor and sales team, moving to Turnaround Publisher Services.

In the longer term, we will expand our list, increasing the number of books we publish a year. We will announce future titles and new initiatives over the course of this year.

It is customary to say that sharing stories and seeking cultural understanding is ‘more important than ever’ – this is not so: storytelling and intellectual communion has always been crucial, both as a way into ideas and other worlds, and a way out of them, when solace or distraction is needed. But for us today, as we step into these new roles, Peirene’s work and future does feel exciting, urgent and brimming with possibility. It is a great privilege and pleasure to work with authors and translators, to turn their manuscripts into books, and to find an audience for them. Peirene Press has played a key role in raising the profile of independent publishing and translated literature over the last decade, and we are excited to widen the net of writers and readers we connect with, and to grow Peirene in the years to come.

Stella Sabin and James Tookey, co-publishers at Peirene