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Culture

Women's publisher focuses on forgotten texts with feminist undertones

Newly established in Germany, the edition fuenf publishing house has a specific focus: books for women, written by women, published by women. Its founder is hoping to satisfy the needs of intelligent female readers.

The first five books published by edition fuenf

The publisher has a unique concept

To found a publishing company, you need money and a good dose of idealism. Silke Weniger has both. She has over 20 years' experience in the business and is one of Germany's most successful agents in the field.

Weniger has made plenty of money putting bestsellers on the market and she says she felt the need to do something different - and a bit more meaningful. With her publishing business, edition fuenf (edition five), she aims to publish books exclusively for women - inspiring, critical, witty and thoughtful texts that she would buy and read herself. Her advertising motto is "Great books for clever women."

Born in 1962, Weniger was too young to participate in the women's movement of the 1970s, though she says the women of the era fascinated her, especially teachers, but also rock stars and artists.

"They had a sense of vitality that I always wanted too," she said.

While many young women of today want to distance themselves from the feminists of that era, Weniger has a relaxed attitude toward them. "My mother wasn't a feminist, like many of theirs were," said Weniger. "I'm too old for that."

Three women - three generations

For many years now, Weniger has been involved in the Buecherfrauen organization - a network for female vendors, translators and agents in the publishing industry. It was there that she met translator and editor Karen Noelle. She valued Noelle's work and employed her as a publisher.

Born in 1950, Noelle had some experience with the women's movement, but does not like to call herself a feminist, saying she has "a problem with all 'isms.'" Nevertheless, she is an expert on feminist literature, especially from the Anglo-Saxon cultural sphere.


From left: Karen Noelle, Christine Graebe and Silke Weniger

The publishers, representative of three generations, do not see themselves as classic feminists


The idea to publish good books for intelligent women appealed to Noelle right away, though she did not want to take on the publishing role alone. Her co-publisher, Christine Graebe, is 25 years younger and brings different ideas into the project, representing the third generation involved in edition fuenf.

Different types of books

According to the trio's plan, five books are to be published every autumn. These should always include one volume of short stories, since this genre represents some respected female authors, such as Canadian Alice Munro. There will also be a novel and a book of reflective nature such as life stories or thoughts on female literature. And, of course, there will also be one classic within the selection.

The books will always fit a particular theme and feature a different cover design every year. The first batch from edition fuenf appropriately takes "beginnings" as its theme and the color of the five covers is green - like spring. The stories chosen depict women starting a new life, such as Edna in Kate Chopin's 1899 novel "The Awakening," which illustrates a woman's struggle to reconcile her unconventional views on femininity with motherhood and prevailing social attitudes at the turn of the 20th century.

Weniger does not expect to come out with any huge bestsellers - she's already done that - but hopes to bring books that have been forgotten or neglected back into the spotlight.

Author: Heide Soltau (ew)
Editor: Kate Bowen

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