A man without a head, tightly wrapped in a rumpled trench coat waiting for a door to open.
The book’s cover, devoid of any colour, struck me.
It was immediately obvious to me that the image, so concise and essential, was the powerful visual synthesis of those pages which describe the uncanny events (which I knew well) of “The Homecoming” by Harold Pinter.
And so it was, that in the London bookstore, I momentarily put my beloved Pinter to the side to step over the threshold of such an evocative and refined cover and entered the world of Faber&Faber.
I would like to say, for those of you who like me, are not so familiar with works in their original language, that Faber&Faber is a real institution.
It is one of the world’s most important independent publishing houses: it has published the works of thirteen Nobel prize laureates – from TS Eliot (1948) to Kazuo Ishiguro (2017), from Samuel Beckett (1969) to Harold Pinter (2005) – as well as seven “Booker Prize” winners, the literary prize started in 1968 which every year is awarded to the best English language novel published in Great Britain.
This year Faber&Faber is celebrating its 90th birthday with the publication of “Faber & Faber: The Untold History of a Great Publishing House,” written by Toby Faber, grandson of that very Geoffrey Faber who in Bloomsbury in 1929, founded the publishing house almost by chance. The story of a family business which was founded during the Great Depression, and which has had the ability to maintain its independence even in the most difficult moments of its long life, surviving gloriously even during the lack of paper during the Second World War and the economic crisis during the 1970s.
Drawing on letters, diaries and documents of the time , the author reveals the business’ successes and failures, its genius intuitions, and the untold stories behind some of the greatest literary works of the 20th century. It is not the monotonous chronicle of the ups and downs of a company which has been active for nearly a century, but an exciting account which explores the fears and hopes of the people who through time have made Faber&Faber what it is today.
I was forgetting to tell you that the image of that man without a head is by the great Polish artist Andrzej Klimowski who in 1980 began working for Faber&Faber and illustrated the covers of Harold Pinter’s works.