In the beginning there were stories without homes. I began thinking of establishing an independent publishing house to offer them a literary shelter.
At the same time, we nearly lost our home, the old Victorian house in Cape Town which contains a private library spread over several rooms, about fifteen thousand books ranging from its creator André Brink’s own first published novel, Die meul teen die hang (1958), to a 1790 edition of François Le Vaillant’s Voyage de Monsieur Le Vaillant dans l’intérieur de l’Afrique, par le Cap de Bonne-Espérance, dans les années 1780, 81, 82, 83, 84 & 85. Ever since I came to live here in 2005 and married André, we have added a few hundred titles to the precious collection. Among them, the ones I have authored and edited over the years.
Losing a home is a terrifying prospect for most, but the fear that time surprised me in the context of my own life. During my early migratory years I had lost many homes and one more should not have made a difference. But it did. By then, my roots had grown too deep to survive such a change without permanent damage. The possibility of a move looming, I desperately began searching for a home no one would ever take away from me.
A caravan. The obvious option. It can even be shipped to another continent and filled with books from which you will never have to part.
In the end, however, we were able to keep our home and all the books living in it. I did not buy a caravan, but I realised that a book is like a caravan, a home away from home, taking you to unexpected places. It seemed only natural to name the publishing house I was dreaming of Caravan Books. My friend Alex Smith recommended ‘Press’ instead of ‘Books’ and the ‘K’ was my own idea.
Karavan Press came into being. At first it was just a vision in my head, sustained for a few years only by the wisdom contained in Roberto Calasso’s L’impronta dell’editore, first published by Adelphi Edizioni in 2013, and by the enthusiastic support of a few people in my life. In 2019, finally, the vision became reality.
Karavan Press aims to publish books we are passionate about, of any genre, any length. We want to nurture authors and their creativity, establish strong bonds between our writers and readers, and offer a literary home for those who treasure words and stories. We cannot, and do not want to, imagine a world without them. Excellence, integrity, and our love for the book as an object are the cornerstones of Karavan Press.
— Karina M. Szczurek, founder and publisher
My deepest gratitude to all the people and institutions that have made Karavan Press possible: André Brink, Alex Smith, Helen Moffett, Erika Viljoen, John Maytham, Joanne Hichens, Nick Mulgrew, Stephen Symons, Megan Ross, Monique Cleghorn, Douglas Venter, Paul Mills, The Brenthurst Library, Protea Book House, Catrina Wessels Rights Management, Tandym Print, The Printing Press, Roberto Calasso, Ingrid Jonker and Virginia Woolf.