As the owner and managing director of Pushkin Press, his mission in life is to sell translated literature from around the world to the English-speaking market. And many of the authors that he works with are Israeli and/or Jewish.
Last year saw the publication of Waking Lions, the second novel Pushkin has published by contemporary Israeli writer Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, who won the Sapir Prize for best debut with One Night, Markovitch. Her third novel will be published by Pushkin in 2018.
Since buying Pushkin in 2012, sales have grown tenfold, culminating in the publication of 60 striking-looking titles this year— up from fewer than 10 in 2011. He says he is lucky that many European countries are keen for books to be translated, so offer subsidies of up to 100 per cent of translation costs. In January, he will publish his first Estonian novel, taking up to 24 the number of languages translated.
Finding the right translator is an art in itself, involving sifting through samples to find the one most suitable. It’s more than just ensuring that nothing is lost in translation. “They make something read so smoothly that you are not even aware it’s a translation.”
Freudenheim, now 42, and his family are members of Belsize Square Synagogue. His three children Susanna, 13, Max, 12, and Nina, nine, are all big readers, sometimes acting as his test audience for a new book. When Max, (then aged eight) read the second half of Laura Watkinson’s translation of The Letter for the King, by veteran Dutch children’s writer Tonke Dragt in a single sitting, he knew it was going to be a hit. It sold so well, that it’s now in its eighth print run. Pushkin has recently published a third book by Dragt, The Song of Seven .