Renaissance Learning MD interviewed in Peirene Press newspaper
By Ruth Atkinson
Managing Director Dirk Foch is interviewed in the latest newspaper from boutique publishing house Peirene Press. The newspaper is an annual publication featuring commentary on European literature and translation. Peirene publishes three novellas each year, classics and award-winners in their countries of origin and translated into English for the first time.
Dirk is a familiar face at Peirene’s Salon events, where the authors and translators read their work and answer questions in an informal setting over a glass (or two) of wine. Dirk has a strong personal interest in quality foreign literature – a Dutchman in London, he is himself a successful European import. His professional life with Renaissance Learning is dedicated to accelerating students’ learning, not least through a commitment to motivating students to read for pleasure through the Accelerated Reader programme.
In the interview, Dirk highlights Hanna Krall’s Chasing the King of Hearts as a particular favourite from Peirene’s list and explains why it is one of three Peirene books we have made available for students to quiz with Accelerated Reader.
What was it about Peirene that first attracted you and made you become a subscriber?
I love the concept of a small publishing house promoting high-quality non-English literature in a very attractive, no-nonsense, entrepreneurial way to the UK market, following a grassroots approach: Peirene has been steadily building up an ever-growing circle of friends and admirers. It’s all based on Meike’s [Meike Ziervogel, Publisher] unerring ability to detect novellas of quality without being sidetracked by any other criteria, and her modesty: it’s about the books, not about the company! How refreshing…
What is your favourite Peirene book and why?
It has to be Chasing the King of Hearts, a small haunting masterpiece that is highly economical and matter-of-fact in its use of language but remains etched in your mind long after you’ve finished it. It’s incomprehensible to me that this book wasn’t picked up earlier here in the UK and Peirene must be tremendously proud of having been the publisher who selected it. It deserves to be a best-seller and should be read by anyone who would like to know more about the Holocaust.
Chasing the King of Hearts is now one of the titles on Renaissance Learning’s Accelerated Reader scheme. Can you explain what the scheme is and how it’s helping teachers and students across the UK?
Accelerated Reader very accurately assesses children’s reading ages, and directs children to a wide variety of popular fiction and non-fiction titles that are appropriate for them – appropriate in terms of challenging and motivating them to read for pleasure, providing the building blocks for a lifelong love of reading, which has a proven positive impact upon their academic career. Chasing the King of Hearts is a fascinating addition to the range of books we have analysed. The Dead Lake and The Mussel Feast are next on our list.
Read the whole interview on page 21 of the newspaper, available online at Newspaper Club. To find out more about the AR quizzes on three Peirene Press books, including Chasing the King of Hearts, visit our Books and Quizzes blog post.