For Nicolás Kanellos, founder of Arte Público Press, the oldest bilingual publisher in the US, the lack of a structure focused on publishing works by Latin authors is one of the biggest obstacles facing the Spanish book industry.
"We need more places to express Latino and our perspectives, not only in literature but also in other fields such as sociology and history, engineering and science, because Hispanics are not only great readers, we also write and do it well," said Kanellos to Efe during an interview.
Founded in 1979 and headquartered in Houston, Texas, Arte Público Press has just received the most important distinction awarded in its field by the National Circle of Book Critics.
According to Kanellos, the award marks a milestone in the book industry due to the lack of awards in the US for publishing houses, something that does not happen with writers and journalists, who have the Pulitzer Prize or the National Book Award.
According to Kanellos, it is also necessary to create a greater number of publishing houses that fix their attention on the literary works of Hispanic authors.
"We receive nearly 2,000 manuscripts a year and we only have room to publish about 25 books, making ours a difficult task, due to the competition that this generates," the editor stressed.
Kanellos added that the texts they receive a year are mostly written in Spanish, but since they do not have the capacity to promote such a large number of books in this language, they choose to translate the work into English due to the lack of distributors and dedicated wholesale houses. to the book in Spanish.
Kanellos, who in 2016 was decorated with the Official Cross of the Order Isabel la Católica, granted by the Government of Spain for his cultural contribution, believes that the process of converting an original into a translation is "a double effort", that many Sometimes it's worth it because it's a great text.
"Another of the shortcomings facing the industry are the media spaces, especially in Spanish, where there is no review and literary criticism," he said.
He also teaches at the University of Houston and is the founder of the literary magazine The Americas Review (formerly Chicano-Riqueña Magazine), which condemned the disinterest of publishers with higher budgets who "rarely publish" titles of Latinos.
"That partly explains our success as the most recognized and largest book publisher of Latin writers, but (if we look at it) in perspective, we are a small nonprofit nationwide," explained Kanellos.
Born in New York in 1945, the cultural promoter regretted that the majority of Latin publishing houses in the country at most publish two to three titles a year, when there is, in his opinion, an immense range of literary talent, as well as artists and thinkers "capable of writing books that are, after all, the basis of education".
For his work in the conservation and promotion of Hispanic letters, Kanellos has also been recognized with the National Award of the American Academy of the Spanish Language Enrique Anderson Imbert.
He was also awarded the 1996 Denali Prize, awarded by the American Library Association and the 1988 Hispanic Heritage Award given by the White House.
In 1991, Arte Público Press inaugurated the Project of Recovery of the Hispanic Literary Heritage of the United States, whose purpose is to investigate, preserve and spread the written culture of Hispanics in the United States. from the colonial era.