The Emma Press

The Emma Press awarded Latvian Literature grant for translation of Lilija Berzinska’s surreal short stories

The Emma Press is excited to announce the acquisition of The Skeleton in the Cupboard, a short story collection for older children by Latvian author Lilija Berzinska.

This surreal collection about a community of strange creatures in the north of Latvia blends fairytale wisdom with more solemn and satirical themes. Featuring original illustrations by the author, the title complements The Emma Press’s existing range of unique illustrated Latvian titles for children and young adults, which includes The Secret Box, The Book of Clouds and the Bicki-Books poetry series for younger children.

The collection, translated by Žanete Vēvere Pasqualini and Sara Smith, will be edited by award-winning children’s author Kate Wakeling. Skelets skapī won the prestigious Latvian Literary Award of the Year (Children’s Category) in 2019, with judges noting: ‘Lilija Berzinska’s tales ooze warmth and sweetness.’ The book has been awarded a 3000 grant by Latvian Literature to support translation and publication. Publishing 12th September 2024.

Emma Dai’an Wright, founder and director of The Emma Press, has commented: “I’m so excited to be bringing Lilija’s characters and stories to an English-reading audience. Lilija has such a distinct voice and viewpoint, beautifully translated by Žanete and Sara. The stories take place on the Livonian coast in northern Latvia, with the calm of the natural world offering a fun contrast with the existential crises experienced by the various creatures, from lovestruck Hare, who kidnaps the Sea-Wolf, to Semi-Limosa who is only half a mimosa. Just like the Moomins and Pippi Longstocking before, also from Northern Europe, I hope Lilija’s creatures will find a place in the hearts of children in the UK and beyond.”

About the author and translators:

Lilija Berzinska was born in 1978 in Riga, Latvia, and spent her childhood on the banks of the Daugava river, observing nature and animals. She is a children’s author and illustrator, and also works as a translator, journalist, and teaches Theology at the University of Latvia. Her children’s novel “Clumsy Clot is Looking for Clumsy Clot/Lamzaks meklē lamzaku” was nominated for the Latvian Literature of the Year Award in 2016, and her collection of fairytales “Skelets skapī/A Skeleton in the Cupboard” won the children’s category of Latvian Literature of the Year Award in 2018.

Žanete Vēvere Pasqualini works as a literary agent for the Latvian Literature platform and translates in her spare time. Her translation of Kristine Ulberga’s “The Green Crow” was published by Peter Owen Publishers, and she translated the stories “The Birds of Ķīpsala Island” by Dace Rukšāne and “The Shakes” by Svens Kuzmins for “The Book of Riga”, published by Comma Press in 2018, as well as “The Quarry” by Jana Egle (for Words Without Borders). Her other translations in English include: “The Noisy Classroom” by Ieva Flamingo (children’s poetry, published by The Emma Press), “Dog Town” by Luīze Pastore (a children’s book, published by Firefly) and the Bicki-Books poetry series for children (The Emma Press, 2019). Žanete is currently working on translating “The Room”, novel by Laima Kota.

Sara Smith studied Italian and Business at Edinburgh University, where she was awarded a Swiss Arts Council prize. She lives in Rome and works as a teacher and translator, and her work has been published by Guerra Editori, Artes Faveo and Compagnia Editoriale.

For further information please contact: 

Georgia Wall, Publishing Manager, The Emma Press

About The Emma Press:

The Emma Press is an award-winning independent publishing house based in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham. It was founded in 2012 by Emma Dai’an Wright and is dedicated to producing beautiful, thought-provoking books for adults and children, and to making publishing and literature more accessible and welcoming. The Emma Press publishes themed anthologies, illustrated chapbooks and children’s poetry and fiction, with a growing list of translations which includes titles from Latvia, Estonia, Indonesia, Spain and the Netherlands. 

The Emma Press is an independent publisher specialising in poetry, short fiction and children’s books. We are trying to make publishing and literature as welcoming and accessible as possible.
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