Guernica Publishing Canada Acquires Ivan Baidak’s ‘(In)visible’

The September release from Guernica will be the first published English translation of an Ivan Baidak novel.

In Sevastopol, March 25. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Elena Odareeva

By Porter Anderson, Editor | @Porter_Anderson

Release date: September 15

As many Western publishing houses announce their intention to produce works from Ukraine during Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked war of aggression against the country, a book originally published by Vivat Editions in Kharkiv is set for an English release on September 15.

As Publication prospects as readers know, Vivat Publishing, run by publisher Julia Orlova, is one of Ukraine’s largest publishing houses and in April visited an air-raid shelter to host a launch party for a new translation by Serhiy Zhadan, who won Germany’s Peace Prize Book Trade at the end of June.

The publication by Vivat two years ago of Ivan Baidak’s book (Invisible won PEN Ukraine recognition in 2020.

Opened in 1978, Guernica Editions in Hamilton, Ontario, is named after the infamous site of the 1937 atrocities in Spain, when the town of Guernica was destroyed by air raids. The press adopted the name “with the hope that the books we publish will make this world a better place to live and love.” The press is said to have published more than 500 international titles and its slogan is “No Borders, No Limits”.

Anna van Valkenburg is the company’s associate publisher and manages international rights. She says Publication prospects that the release of Guernica from (Invisible will mark the first English translation of any of Baidak’s books, which includes the 2013 Personally me, personally you, a novel; several collections, including Role games (2014) and A.k.a; and two previous books (Invisible of Vivat—Shadows of our meetings (2017) and The man in my name (2017).

Van Valkenburg says that to date the Polish rights to the book have also been sold.

While the images of the cover images of the upcoming English version of (Invisible don’t seem to credit them, we are told that the book’s Ukrainian translators are Hanna Leliv and Isaac Wheeler.

(Invisible is a novel based on Baidak’s experience of having Tourette syndrome, which he was diagnosed with as a teenager.

In the book, a 26-year-old freelance designer named Adam finds friends struggling with various difficulties in a social support group. Anna is a charity worker with a facial hemangioma. Marta is a television presenter with alopecia. And Eva is a makeup artist with vitiligo.

The book’s title refers to the kind of self-inflicted invisibility that many in Adam’s (and Baidak’s) position create for themselves, and the book is the story of Adam’s effort to “become visible”.

Baidak has lived and worked internationally, in countries including Poland, Austria, Mexico and the United States. While Van Valkenburg says this is the first of his novels to be translated into English, some of his short collections of works have been translated into English, German, Serbian, Polish, Spanish and Italian.

Early this year, we are told, Baidak left his home in Lviv and was welcomed by the Camargo Foundation of France in Cassis and the Association of Slovenian Writers in Bled.

Van Valkenburg says that part of the proceeds from the sale of (Invisible will go to Help the Heroes of Ukraine charity, which is based in the United States, in Carol Stream, Illinois.

From left to right: Ivan Baidak (photo: Lesya Yasnitska); Hanna Leliv; and Isaac Wheeler

Follow our coverage of Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine and its impact on the country’s publishing industry and international industry reactions.

Read more about international rights in Publishing Perspectives here, about the Canadian publishing market and about translation issues and translators.

More from us on the The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident member of Trends Research & Advisory, and was named International Business Journalist of the Year at the London Book Fair’s International Excellence Awards. He is editor of Publishing Perspectives. He was previously associate editor of The FutureBook at The Bookseller in London. Anderson was a senior producer and anchor for, CNN International and CNN USA for more than a decade. As an art critic (National Critics Institute), he has collaborated with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which is now owned and operated by Jane Friedman.