This Edmonton publishing house specializes in authors whose first language isn't English
'It's creating a wider sense of community and it's transcending borders'
A small Edmonton publishing house is trying to introduce readers to more works by writers whose first language isn't English.
Laberinto Press says it is the first publishing house in Western Canada to do this.
Publisher Luciana Erregue-Sacchi started Laberinto Press in 2020, just before the pandemic hit.
"It's anchoring the city and the province in the world, rather than helping writers. It's creating a wider sense of community and it's transcending borders," she told CBC's Edmonton AM.
A Canadian-Argentinian writer, Erregue-Sacchi felt there was a gap in the market for more diverse writers.
She found Edmonton is home to authors from the Middle East, the Philippines, Latin America and Indigenous communities who connect to their communities of origin through their stories.
"I spotted the need to produce literature by culturally diverse writers that do not pander to tokenism, but touch on the true diversity, multiplicity and complexity of human experience," she said.
Erregue-Sacchi feels she is in a unique position as a writer and editor with knowledge of Canada's literary world.
"I'm thinking about all the opportunities that writers that do not write in English, as their first language, have right now, in the city and in the province," she said, noting there is a big community of authors in Edmonton.
Laberinto = Spanish for labyrinth
Laberinto Press published the first instalment of its Beyond anthology series in 2020.
Beyond the Food Court: An Anthology of Literary Cuisines was born out of an inspiration to address food as a personal and deeply diverse experience, Erregue-Sacchi said.
"When you emigrate, part of the country comes with you. But also you love the country you're in," she said. "It's like your heart expands, all of a sudden you feel at home in the world."
The series is based on the five senses. Literary Cuisines focused on taste. It was followed by 2021's Beyond the Gallery: An Anthology of Visual Encounters.
Laberinto is the Spanish word for labyrinth. The name was a way for Erregue-Sacchi to incorporate her Argentinian culture and identity into her publishing house.
The name was inspired by The Garden of Forking Paths, a short story by the Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges. The story is a metaphor for narratives that intersect.
"That's what I want to accomplish with this publishing house," Erregue-Sacchi said.
"We meet each other in narratives and stories, and then our paths separate and our narratives diverge."
The labyrinth is comforting, a place for getting lost, and found again, she said.
A small press, Laberinto is only able to publish one book a year. Its next offering, which is not part of the Beyond series, is The Ghost of You, a collection of short stories by Peruvian-American author Margarita Saona.
It will be available in 2023 as part of Laberinto's Global Literature in Translation series.