International book fairs should always present independent surprises. Publishers and editions that can capture the reader at first sight, far from mainstream and best seller quests. It was the case of Federico Tozzi Editore at the Salone del Libro di Torino, last May. A real supernova in the national editorial scenario, thanks to its accurate and unique books. We have had the chance of discovering more about it with Tozzi himself, who led us in a pleasant journey, in between already published volumes and books that are yet to come.
What can you tell us about the process that led you towards the creation of your publishing company and such different collections?
The decision was taken trying to make a dream come true: I would have liked to work for a publishing company (specifically thinking about my favourite: Adelphi), but not having been able to I decided to create my own. My dream has found fertile grounds on the fact that there are many unpublished or no longer available books, in Italy. Important books, sometimes great literary classics. It is frustrating not to find a book you would like to read and uncomfortable for a librarian to tell a client a specific title no longer exists in Italy. I wanted to save some of these books, giving a contribute to a world that was disappearing. Many of these volumes are not even available in a digital version. There are only paper copies and if they disappear it will become increasingly difficult to be able to read them. I wanted them to have a new life.
The collections are varied because each of them has to represent a specific style and its characteristics. I wanted them to be immediately recognisable. They need to have character and peculiarities that can give certainties to their readers. If you read one of our books, you know that you will find more romantic novels in Cecilia, while Marta includes a more irregular narrative. Classics and lost volumes can be found in Lys, which also deals with the so-called docu-fiction, cases and real stories you can read as novels. Each name has its specific taste, as every human being.
How do you choose which volume to include in each collection?
I think I have already partially answered this question. The first rule is that “I must like the book”. Full stop. If I don’t like it, it might be an important novel or a best seller, but I won’t publish it. I need to be enthusiast about every book I publish, first on a reader’s point of view. If, when I read it I think: “this must be read by…” then I take it into consideration. Furthermore, it must be a book I would certainly recommend, in my bookshop. I do this for passion, therefore I am free to create a catalogue I am proud of. Once the book has been chosen, understanding which collection it is more suitable for, is not difficult. Lys, for example, was born from the need to include certain books without making Marta and Cecilia seem too generic.
The books you publish show your care in the choice of authors, themes and printing. Do you deal with it all on your own?
Not really. I follow all steps, from the choice of the book to its sale, but I obviously have a group of people helping me. It varies from book to book. The graphic style of Lys for example (the collection we started this year) was born from the confrontation with Chiara Tavella and Cristina Levet. It seems like a mundane thing to say, but realising a collection requires a thorough work on the elements, the colours, the dimensions of an image etc. We talk and try to reach the best result possible. Each book is a team work and involves other people for editing and corrections. In the past two years Chiara and Cristina, together with Giuliano D’Amico who has been helping me from the start, as well as Carlo Quaglia, who was fundamental for the realisation of such books as La confessione di Lucio and of course Rivolta dei pescatori di S. Barbara.
At the Salone del Libro di Torino - last May - you presented: La Bocca dell’Inferno. It is a unique book in its genre. Could you tell us something more about its editorial genesis?
It is Giuliano D’Amico’s merit as he introduced me to the novel and Marco Pasi’s who accepted to be the curator and transform it into such a rich and interesting book. It was born from a meeting between myself, Giuliano and Marco. We needed almost two years to finish it. It is a book that has grown up with time. Without Marco Pasi’s collaboration, I doubt we would have been able to reach such an in-depth volume. The notes, for example, are almost a book inside the book given the amount of information they show. It has been really tiring, but I think it was worth it.
Could you already tell us which projects your are working on, as well as those you would like to be involved into?
We are already working on the books for next year. The first book will be by a famous Icelandic writer. A very important name on an international level, but who has never been well known in Italy, strangely enough. Signing with him was incredible, as it was when we did with Gallimard for Un amore senza parole. The sort of experiences that leaves you pondering over it. When you contact them you think they will never answer, while they have a respect for your work, even if it is small and elitist, that you cannot always find in Italy.
We are also publishing our long seller Mare aperto (by Strindberg) again and we are working on a French classic, as well. I hope we will manage to, as I think it should be read by any reader of Dostoevskij, my favourite author. There are obviously authors I dream about publishing. I think about Quarantotti Gambini in Italy or Herman Bang on an international level. The list is much longer, as I am not at a lack of ideas.