P.O.L, thirty years of cutting-edge publishing



A frequent prize-winner, this small literary publisher constantly refuels its ambition under the auspices of Georges Perec


What do Marguerite Duras, Emmanuel Carrère, Nathalie Quintane and Christian Prigent have in common? A publisher: Paul Otchakovsky-Laurens, founder-director of the publishing house whose name is his initials and which, this year, will be celebrating 30 years of existence. Today their impressive harvest of prizes has put them in the spotlight (the France Culture-Télérama prize went to Tu verras by Nicolas Fargues; the Médicis to Ce qu’aimer veut dire by Mathieu Lindon;the Renaudot to Limonov by Emmanuel Carrère in 2011; the Livre Inter to Supplément à la vie de Barbara Loden by Nathalie Léger, and the Wepler prize to Mille feuille by Leslie Kaplan in 2012). Yet this subsidiary of Gallimard remains discreet about its beginnings.

We have to go back to 1983. Paul Otchakovsky-Laurens, then publishing manager of Flammarion’s ‘Textes’ series, convinces Henri Flammarion to invest the necessary capital to open his own publishing house. “I immediately understood that what I wanted to publish would not let me live on my own earnings,”he told Livres Hebdo in a recent interview. In fact, he has never been a majority shareholder of P.O.L, and since 2003,Gallimard controls most of the capital. So what exactly were the publisher’s plans ? His catalogue reveals his ambition to produce high quality publications with the novel, poetry and theatre in all their most contemporary and experimental forms. We find Valère Novarina’s plays alongside medievalist translations and Catholices says by Frédéric Boyer, novels by Marie Darrieussecq and Charles Juliet. The house is a success, but at P.O.L, they don’t let that go to their heads: the number of titles in the catalogue remains steady, with about fifty publications each year. And, for the chosen authors, an identical cover immediately recognized by readers and booksellers, whose logo is a souvenir of Georges Perec, guardian of the house.

Fanny Taillandier