The novels they publish are just as vibrant. One Hundred Shadows by Hwang Jungeun, translated from the Korean by Jung Yewon is set in an electronic market in Seoul. Its two central characters, Eungyo and Mujae, are treated as cogs in society’s machine. This book breathes magical realism and hauntings, the twist being that it’s the characters who haunt themselves — their shadows detaching to rise up against injustice. The Impossible Fairytale by Han Yujoo translated from the Korean by Janet Hong is a piece of metafiction that ties itself in knots. Beginning with a character called The Child, who wants everything a spoiled girl takes for granted, it holds up a series of mirrors to discuss the impossibility of writing the self.
Their pamphlet series Translating Feminisms includes poetry from Indonesia, Vietnam, Nepal and Korea alongside essays asking how feminism translates and what form it takes around the world. One of my favourite poems from this series is by Kutti Revathi called ‘Light is a Prowling Cat’ translated from the Tamil by Lakshmi Holmstrom, a beautiful extended metaphor of daylight arriving like a sleepy cat: ‘Seeing that the rain has gone / it spreads out its shadow-shop / upon the clustering trees, / then climbs up the tent-face / to sit and watch the world.’
Happily, I still have a few of their titles sitting on my shelves waiting to be read and I’m eagerly awaiting some of their 2021 releases, too. Next on my to-read pile is Strange Beasts of China by Yan Ge, translated from the Chinese by Jeremy Tiang, a novel about a cryptozoologist who has been hired to uncover fabled beasts living in the city — some of these have been hiding for centuries, and others have just been engineered as artificial beasts.
This book club review of Tilted Axis Press was written by the author and poet Jen Campbell, whose latest book is The Girl Aquarium.
Images by Kendal Noctor.