'Literature against silence: that’s our mission. Our books encourage curiosity. No prescription required, but the treatment does have side effects.'
Literature as a cure for ignorance: that is the vision of Alberto Rodríguez and Gonzalo Izquierdo. Together they founded the Spanish publishing house Dos Bigotes in 2014, based on their love of literature and their commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community. Dos Bigotes specializes in literature that relates to LGBTQIA+, gender issues and feminism. We asked them to share their views on diversity and inclusivity in the book industry.
Why did you decide to start a publishing company specializing in LGBTQIA+, feminism and gender issues?
We believe that every reader is interested in good literature, and therefore that it’s important to publish good books related to those themes. They enable more readers to get acquainted with this type of literature and its characters, which in turn will help to break down prejudices and make different realities visible.
What are some of the important factors you take into consideration when deciding which books to publish? How would you describe a quintessential ‘Dos Bigotes’ publication?
We would have to say that the most important factor is whether we are moved by the story. Right from the start, we’ve been looking for writers who focus on telling the diverse and complex stories of LGBTQIA+ people and their lives. Aside from that, we love stories written from a non-traditional viewpoint and books that shine a new light on reality.
Dos Bigotes also publishes translated literature and essays. Why do you think that’s important? Have you noticed differences in the way certain topics are discussed in different countries or languages?
Absolutely! Ever since we published our first title in April 2014 ― an anthology of contemporary Russian writers called El armario de acero (The Iron Closet) ― the translation of foreign authors has been one of the fundamental pillars of our catalogue. We’ve now published translated literary works by authors from the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Slovenia, Romania, Poland and several African countries.
We strongly believe that translated literature enables readers to learn more about the realities of different countries. It’s important to know that the personal and social experience of being a member of the LGBTQIA+ community is very different in the Netherlands, for example, from how it is in Russia. And indeed different in Nigeria from how it is in Uganda.
La geometría del trigo, written by Alberto Conejero, won the Premio Nacional de Literatura Dramática in 2019. How does it feel to see the books you’ve published appreciated in mainstream and non-LGBTQIA+ contexts, including awards?
It was amazing! We always say that we specialize in LGBTQIA+ themes but not LGBTQIA+ readers, because good books are written for all kinds of people, beyond questions of gender or sexual identity. La geometría del trigo is a stunning play written by Alberto Conejero, one of the best contemporary writers in Spain.
Apart from the stories you publish, are there any other ways Dos Bigotes invests in diversity and inclusion?
Yes. We believe that publishing books is a form of cultural activism and for that reason we have a constant relationship with various LGBTQIA+ associations. We also participate in various events (such as national and international book fairs, conferences or talks) because we think it’s important to spread awareness of the diversity of LGBTQIA+ culture in all areas of life.
What tips would you give other publishing companies that want to feature more diversity and be more inclusive?
First of all, believe in the books that you publish. Publishing books brings responsibility with it, and as publishers we need to contribute to making the world a more diverse and inclusive place. We’re convinced that books save lives, so our job is to present references and stories we can all identify with.
Which inclusive books would you recommend?
There are many books we’d recommend, including:
- Las malas by Camila Sosa Villada
- Tengo miedo torero by Pedro Lemebel
- The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst.
If asked to pick some books that we’ve published at Dos Bigotes, we’d recommend:
- Cómo entender tu género by Alex Iantaffi and Meg-John Barker
- El hombre de hojalata by Sarah Winman
- Cómo luchamos por nuestras vidas by Saeed Jones
- La herencia by Matthew López